Mother Nature has built in survival by ensuring that fruit trees bear many more blossoms than are needed for a full crop. However, this creates a catch-22 when more blossoms grow and develop into more little fruit than the tree really can support. Just as wisely, nature’s design includes the likelihood that not all developing fruit will hang on and grow until harvest. You will see this process at work in “June drop.”
If the tree does not drop enough fruit, as gardeners we may need to give nature a helping hand. Why would you want to thin fruit off your tree? There are several reasons:
- Carrying excess fruit, stresses the tree.
- A heavily stressed tree does not develop as many fruit buds to create next years crop as does a tree that is carrying only the fruit it can manage. Are you aware of when those buds for next years fruit form? It’s right now, June and July, as this season’s crop is also trying to grow.
- The tree can only support the growth of so many pounds of fruit. When the tree is carrying an over abundance of fruit, each fruit will get a smaller share of food and energy. The individual fruit can not grow as large.
- Fewer fruit means bigger fruit, provided the tree is otherwise healthy.
Apples, pears, quince, peaches, and to a lesser extent, apricots and plums all respond to fruit-thinning by producing larger fruit. Cherries do not. So, let me ask you, would you rather pick golf balls or baseballs? Of course, it will take a lot more effort to fill that basket with golf balls than with baseballs. In my next posts I’ll talk more about how to thin fruit. Stay tuned.