Thin out fruitlets

Amateur Gardening - - Your Gardening Week -

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

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