I do plums, usually only once It's clear a branch is too overloaded (I should know better by now and do it earlier...)
I also do apples, mainly because earwigs take up residence and munch holes if they push together. I have received conflicting advice, either to leave just the middle 'king' blossom, as it will be the largest fruit, or just remove the king blossoms this makes enough space to ripen the other 5 or 6.
... Personally I tend to leave 2-3 nicely spaced, unblemished fruit, as I don't care about supermarket consistency and large size. Maybe i should thin a bit harder as I have the occasional biennial bearer - but I have only harvested 3 real crops so maybe they are just settling in...
Has anyone got some words of wisdom on crop thinning?
- Lois Lincoln I have always thinned my small Satsuma & Queen Rosa plums at least 50% to 70% seems a lot but always had plenty of good size fruit, peaches thinned to about 4 fingers between took off 75% this year.
- Sharn Lucas I've heard conflicting advice too, and when I think back I reckon that was because the reason for thinning was different. I received advice from a commercial grower that an apple per handspan was the go, but that of course ties in with crop consistency and also creating a managable harvest. Whereas in the backyard you might want heaps of smaller ones for juicing (throw whole into the blender!) or kids lunchboxes, or you might want less but larger ones that pass for an entire meal when you are out gardening and are real easy to core for particular processing. And it might depend how much you like that particular tree's fruit - I have one out of the eight apple trees on our place that I loved so much I want to savour every single one, I'm not sure I could thin! I'd rather trial something crazy like pushing a plastic bottle cap between them so they are still spaced and get a bit of sun ha ha! :)
- Ben Waite I certainly allow more than 1 per hand span :) Well formed apples, no broken branches and preventing biennial bearing are my goals... I grow a few of the stupidly large apples like Peasgood Nonesuch, Twenty Ouncer and Belle Cacheuse on espalier around the veg garden. Once they are bearing properly I will thin them more heavily for maximum size, since they are as much a decoration as for fruit.
- Carolyn Payne-Gemmell I have been lightening the load of my young apples, leaving 2-3 fruit when all 6 pollinated, as I would rather they grew branches than put their energy into fruit. I don't lighten the plums, but I do put props under the branches if they look really heavy later in the season. I did discover that lightening a really heavy apricot crop did slow it from being a biennial bearer, and by discover I mean an errant goat climbed the tree and ate a lot off.
- Lois Lincoln I have been told by organic commercial grower apricots well thinned out will stop biennial bearing & increase the size of the fruit, also no fruit touching as it can harbour disease & crawling creatures, I can say the best thing I have done is generally thin out Japanese plums, apricots & peaches, European plums & prunes may be different as they smaller, apples I have know idea about but will need to learn fast with 20 trees to do. I work on the theory if the fruit is looking like a bunch of grapes you will get grape size fruit, to me 1 small sprig = 1 fruit, I look at small branches and imagine what size the fruit will look like & the weight at picking time. Generally the stone in a peach will be the same size in (that variety) whether the fruit is big or small.
- Neil Barraclough I would suggest that if you thin the smaller fruit you will reduce the length of season that the fruit is available, the smaller fruit is the late ripening fruit. If you intend thinning remove some across the size range.
- Kym Stroud Smith just noticed the apricots have done their November drop. Self thinned. Either that or the cockies had a good go
- Ben Obst I'm a big believer in thinning. However it doesn't look like I'll be doing much this year as we have had a very light fruit set. I'm putting it down to the very dry spring we have had which resulted in poor pollination. I generally like to thin so that fruit aren't touching because this is where bugs seem to live.
- Bianca Patetl Timely question although a little too late for my small granny smith. thanks for the tip Neil, next year ;-) I didn't thin last year and had a tree full of super small granny smith, just thinned quite considerably as had an enormous quantity of fruit set but mostly got rid of the small ones ;-(
- Alexandra Westlund That's exactly what I figured, Neil!
- Alexandra Westlund Thinning fruit is pretty sad though for a tree that is laden with fruit and you're getting rid of half... :(
- Molly Galea I didn't thin the first year I was here and the apple dropped its entire crop. Now I thin. Today I reluctantly thinned the grapes - my first ever crop!Kate Hayward You mention Earwigs, the bane of my garden, seedlings eaten and plants diminished overnight, suggestions please.
- Alexandra Westlund I've started thinning my plums, everything is a bit later in Woodend so they are ok for the next week or so I guess.
- Ben Waite I would say thinning gives me mixed feelings Alexandra Westlund. It's sad to remove fruit, but it's usually the first time I give my trees a really good going over and see how the crops doing. After all, if you are thinning, it means too many fruit, which is a good place to start :) The Kinglake ranges are a few weeks behind as well, however I was pleasantly surprised how big some of the plums and apples are already.
- Alexandra Westlund Yep true. My peach and nectarine have had totally crap fruit set so that's disappointing.... I had a good look over everything today.
- Alexandra Westlund The pears are really cute, it sounds silly but I was delighted to see their tiny pear shapes haha
- Ben Waite pears are one of the cuter baby fruit for some reason... I have some little bright ones hanging off an espalier that I spent 10 minutes looking at the other day, so I can't judge ;)