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Make the Most of Summer – Thinning Apples, Pears and Plums

June is just closing out, which means it’s time to start thinking about fruit thinning. Nature does part of the work for you, with fruit naturally falling to the ground as part of the ‘June drop’. Nonetheless, it’s important to get involved yourself.

apple trees

Thinning your fruit helps immature trees conserve energy, allowing them to expend it on developing roots, foliage and branches, creating a better infrastructure to harvest from in later years. This even carries over to mature trees. If a specimen expends too much energy on this year’s crop, there may be little to harvest upon the following year.

This process benefits the remaining fruits, able to develop to a good size, with sunlight and oxygen easily penetrating branches to help even ripening of fruit and reduce disease. Similarly to how you wouldn’t plant grass near an immature tree, avoiding competition over resources aids the establishment of a productive garden.

For Apples and Pears, you’ll want to start by removing fruit with an odd shape, position, or blemishes. Keep an eye out for the ‘king pin’, the apple at the centre of the cluster which will often meet these criteria and need removing. On newer trees, try to retain no more than 6 apples per three years of age. For older trees, try and keep one or two dessert apples per cluster, around 10-15cm apart. For cooking apples cut this down to one per cluster, 15 to 25cm apart. They can be removed using secateurs and scissors, or simply twisted off by hand.

Plums have a habit of over cropping, so you’ll want to keep particularly aware of the above risks. Fortunately, they’re easy to thin out. Leave one pair every 15cm, and gently remove the rest with your thumb and forefinger to provide more than enough room to thrive and ripen.

If your fruit have already dropped it’s time to get started, and you should ideally have finished thinning by mid-July. If you have any questions or queries don’t hesitate to contact us, and we’ll have someone on hand more than happy to help you with orders and advice.

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