Thinning apples

by Jane Moore

This year my three apple trees have flowered and set fruit beautifully and the branches are laden with bunches of marble-sized fruits.

Thinning applesWhat a week we've had. It's been more like October than July and the poor old plot is looking a bit battered and bruised. I nipped there to take stock of any damage after the gale force winds last weekend, and found my brassica netting in a hedge.

While I was there I thought I may as well do a couple of jobs, so I set about thinning out the fruit on the apple trees.

This year my three apple trees have flowered and set fruit beautifully; the branches are laden with bunches of marble-sized fruits. However, each cluster boasts about four or five fruitlets - far too many to ensure each one develops to its full size. Each cluster therefore needs to be thinned to one or two fruits. Ideally, they should be spaced apart to ensure they won't rub together as they swell (which can break the skin and encourage disease). The ideal spacing between fruits is about 10cm, though I admit I often allow a bit less than that.

You can snip off the excess fruits with a pair of secateurs, but they will just as easily break off in your hand. Quite a few young apples drop off naturally - a process known as the 'June drop' - at the start of the summer, but rarely enough to make a difference, and rarely in the right places. I really enjoy thinning apples; it's one of those lovely little jobs that I save for when I need a bit of cheering up. And after last week's weather, I need all the cheering up I can get.

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Gardeners' World Web User 15/07/2008 at 13:01

Can anyone help please ... I have two container planted pear trees (bought from a tv shopping channel last year) one of them has about 6 small fruits on the other just leaves. Also my container plum tree makes some fruit but they keep falling off.

What need I do I have fed them and they haven't dried out at all.I have also sprayed against insects etc.

Gardeners' World Web User 16/07/2008 at 12:10

Very helpful idea, our fruit trees are so full of fruit this year theres no way they can all grow to full size. After having hardly any fruit last year we have the complete opposite this year, even our walnut tree is overloaded but I dont think I'll be climbing that to thin the fruit!

Gardeners' World Web User 17/07/2008 at 17:07

I haven't a very good crop of apples this year and my nectarine tree hasn't even produced a single bud I have ended up using this to grow my climbing plants up.

Gardeners' World Web User 21/08/2008 at 21:11

Anyone have any ideas of how to stop squirrels stealing your apples? 3 weeks ago I had a tree groaning with them, now I don't have a single one. It's never happened before, but the only thing I can think of is the squirrels. Any suggestions welcome!

Gardeners' World Web User 14/08/2010 at 14:23

So glad I read this article. For about four years now my apple tree has produced loads of fruit but none of them have reached the edible stage before winter. Now I know why!! Just off to do a bit of thinning. Thank you. Hellebore

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