Fruit trees with exceptionally heavy crops benefit from ”thinning”, where a portion of the crop at the fruitlet stage (about 3cm wide) is removed. Most trees will naturally drop a portion of the crop, but you may need to thin more. Usually November or December is the best time (it may be earlier for early ripening varieties). While it can be a bit heartbreaking to take fruit off your trees, there are a number of incentives. Overcropping risks branches breaking under the weight of the fruit, can cause biennial bearing (only fruiting every second year, in recovery after a heavy crop) and can cause damage to the fruit simply by it rubbing together or by encouraging brown rot to develop between the fruit. Thin apples and pears to bunches of two or three fruit. Thin stonefruit so that the fruit is spaced 5-10cm apart. Leave more fruit on the outer and upper branches, as these receive the most direct sunlight so will produce the biggest and best-flavoured fruit.