Anyone who knows me knows that at this time of year I’m more than a little keen to encourage the thinning of fruitlets on apple, pear and other pome fruit trees. I posted a long-read piece on the importance of thinning to avoid a boom and bust biennial bearing cycle just yesterday and I’ve also written about the reasons for, and process of fruit thinning once or twice before, so I won’t re-hash everything here. Instead, I’ll just show you a couple of quick comparison photos to illustrate and reiterate the point.
This is a cluster of fruitlets on apple ‘Howgate Wonder‘ in the heritage orchard at Ordsall Hall, taken1Please excuse the generally poor quality of the pics. My phone camera has never taken great photos, but there’s a newer model on the way which will hopefully provide better quality images. on Thursday 1st July:
Note the small size of the fruits, how starved and pinched they look, how crowded they are in the cluster. You really can’t imagine any of them growing to their full potential over the next three or four months, can you?
By contrast, this pic (taken from a similar distance) shows a single fruit, growing a couple of branches over, the selected survivor of a cluster that was thinned by removing two or three smaller fruitlets:
As you can see, this fruitlet is already noticeably larger than the ones shown above and there’s plenty of room for it to grow and develop into the sort of large, impressive dual-purpose apple that ‘Howgate Wonder’ is renowned for.
As I talked about yesterday and in my previous posts on fruit thinning, fewer fruits on the tree not only results in larger, better-formed, riper fruits this year, but the lower overall drain on the tree’s resources should leave it with plenty of energy to initiate fruit buds for next year. This in turn will help to reduce the chances of the tree entering a biennial bearing cycle of ‘boom and bust’ fruiting.
If your fruit trees are over-loaded with fruitlets at the moment, if you want good-sized, well-ripened apples to pick and enjoy come harvest time, and if you want a much better chance of a good crop next year as well, then fruit thinning is the answer.
Go, check your trees! And don’t forget to take your thinning secateurs with you.
- 1Please excuse the generally poor quality of the pics. My phone camera has never taken great photos, but there’s a newer model on the way which will hopefully provide better quality images.