For top quality fruit and a better performing tree – thin your fruit this month! Thinning removes the excess to improve the remainder – and it’s a lovely job, so peaceful among the fruit trees (apart from Nellie the pig’s grunts for more!)
I thin because thinning looks after my trees. It lightens their load. (I love the thought of a benevolent being plucking jobs from my list – wouldn’t it be great!) There’s a heap of carbs required to create fruit, and carbs don’t come easy. In this way you’ll prevent biennial bearing (enthusiastic big crop followed by exhausted little crop). There are other advantages too – improving light for better ripening, airflow for disease prevention and a better size, better quality fruit. Spaces between fruits means less of a wildfire approach to disease spread (like having a firebreak) and less insect hotels too.
Thin when your fruits are small – up to marble sized. Don’t yank the fruits off – you’ll damage the spur. Either bend them backwards and snap them off or pinch or cut them off.
Remove the disfigured and retain the biggest ones where possible.
And work with the rule of um. For big fruiters like Peasgood or Monty leave only one fruit per cluster. If it’s a heavily laden young or poorly tree, thin plenty off so you don’t exhaust the poor thing.
Apples and Pears – Leave 1 or 2 fruits per cluster and about 15cm between clusters.
Plums, Peaches and Nectarines – 5 – 10cm spacings between fruit.