NZ Gardener - Garden Diary 2018 - - Growing Tips -

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.

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