Thin out fruitlets
IF you follow the mantra of quality over quantity, then you’re already well on your way to being a good fruit grower. Fruit trees can set a prolific crop, yet allowing all of it to reach maturity can compromise fruit size, ripening and the health of the plant.
Most of you will have come across the phrase ‘June drop’, where excess or abnormal fruitlets are naturally shed by the tree. It occurs some time this month, a sign of its arrival being shrivelled fruitlets all over the ground. Once this has occurred it pays to thin the crop out a little more – in this way you can guarantee optimum fruit size and quality.
Thin dessert apples and all pears to two healthy fruitlets per cluster, and cooking apples to one per cluster. Peaches and nectarines should be thinned to one fruit every 15cm (6in) of stem, whereas you can have an apricot every 10cm (4in). Cherries, plums and gages don’t need thinning, but bear in mind that branches (especially of plums) might need supporting as the fruitlets swell later in the month.
Thinning does make you feel rather like an X-factor judge, but being harsh now will ultimately give you the best harvests come summer.
Thin out peaches and nectarines to one healthy fruitlet every 6in of stem to ensure good-sized harvests