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How to Thin Apple Tree Fruit

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Wondering how to thin tree fruit in your orchard?

Knowing why and how to thin tree fruit is important. And, it’s important to thin tree fruit on all sorts of orchard trees. That’s because doing this pruning taste helps improve your harvest. And it may help your tree’s overall health.

It may seem counterproductive to take several fruits off of your pollinated tree. However, pruning out crowded clusters of young fruit actually does a few good things for your trees and your crop.

How to thin apple tree fruit

So, what does thinning fruit do to help?

Fruiting trees often produce an abundance of flowers. And by growing a lot of flowers, that helps ensure some get successfully pollinated. And, when flowers get pollinated, they grow into fruits.

However, if all of the flowers are successfully pollinated, that may lead to a burdensome fruit load on the tree. Sure, it might sound like you’re going to get a lot more delicious fruit when this happens. But unfortunately, the opposite may be true.

By manually removing some young fruits early in the season, you will help your fruit tree divert its limited resources to the remaining fruits. And, yes, you will harvest fewer individual fruits. But, those you do harvest should make for better eating. That’s because they will benefit from growing space, water, and  sweetening feeds from the tree. So, they should grow larger, sweeter, and healthier.

Growing fruit requires a lot of out of trees.

When trees are laden with a lot of fruit, they may not be able to access sufficient resources to convert every one of those fruits into big, juicy edibles. Plus, if branches are over-burdened by an over-abundance of developing fruits, they may become stressed. And, the tree’s branches may break under the weight.

In fact, with newly planted trees, you may want to remove all of the fruit from the trees for the first few years. That’s because developing a strong tree in the beginning is most important. So, focusing on proper tree pruning is also key. And, if you need help learning how to prune your trees, we’ll teach you in our online Academy.

So, it’s important to both reduce each crowded cluster from several fruits to just one or two. As well it is equally important to to be sure that the remaining fruits are well spaced on branches. That’s because this helps disperse the weight maturing fruit adds.

how to thin apple tree example

Not only are the smallest fruits ideal to remove, but taking out damaged or poorly formed young fruit like this one keeps the tree from wasting resources on it.

So, how do you choose which fruits to remove & which to keep?

When you’re choosing how to thin apple tree fruit, examine each cluster. And, what you’ll likely notice first is some are well formed and plump. But, others may be tiny and scrappy.

So, get rid of the tiny ones.

And, if you need to thin out more fruits, trim out any that look damaged or malformed. That’s because they’ll continue to drain resources. But, they aren’t likely to be the best to harvest.

Finally, if any fruits are wedged between branches, get rid of those as well.

And, when is the best time to thin apple tree fruit?

In late spring/early summer, check your fruit trees for young fruit clusters. Then begin removing the worst of the batch.

Left to their own devices, by early-to-mid-summer, many trees will drop a number of immature fruits on their own. But, the tree may choose to let go of fruit you want. So, by editing the tree earlier in the season, you may benefit from making your own selections. However, trees may over-ride your decision and drop more fruit later too. If this happens, know the tree is simply doing what it needs to do to survive.

Moreover, if the tree begins flagging or is still overly burdened later in the season, you may choose to remove even more ripening fruit later in the season.

Finally, after thinning your apple tree fruit, protect the rest…

And, if you haven’t protected your fruits from apple maggot and coddling moth, learn how to do that here.

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