How To Thin Fruit (And Why You Need To)

nashis pre thin

Removing excess fruits from an over-burdened tree rewards you with a more robust tree and better fruits (this year and next).  From mid spring on keep an eye on your fruit trees and thin heavily loaded trees as fruits reach marble size.

Thinning is about removing extras to improve the remainder, but best of all it keeps your tree’s equilibrium steady by ensuring there’s enough juju’s for this years fruits as well as for spur development, ie next years fruits. It takes a heap of carbs to create fruit, and carbs don’t come easy.

A mother load of fruit = stress. Stress is same for trees as for humans – 10/10 on the badness scale , creating a multitude of problems down the line.

Luisa pre thin

Luisa is carrying way too many plums

Bonuses of Thinning

  • improved light for better ripening
  • airflow for disease prevention
  • prevents biennial bearing (enthusiastic big crop followed by exhausted little crop)
  • a better size, better quality fruit
  • less of a wildfire approach to disease spread (like having a firebreak)
  • less insect hotels (nothing cosier for codlings than three apples squashed up together!)
  • a lovely peaceful job among the trees

How To

Thin fruit when it’s marble size. Drop it on the ground, returning it to the tree.


Work your way systematically branch by branch. Use seceteurs to cut pipfruits and your thumb and finger to twist stone fruits. Pulling is disastrous! you’ll end up taking the whole spur off.

Remove deformed or stunted fruits, leaving the biggest and best to grow on.

Leave 1 fruit per cluster. For some of you this’ll be oh so hard! I can but encourage you.

For a young or poorly tree, thin plenty off so you don’t exhaust the poor thing.


The amount of space to leave between each fruit depends on the full grown size of each variety. As a guide use these

  • Peaches and Nectarines 10 – 15cm
  • Apricots 10cm
  • Plums 5 – 10cm
  • Apples 15 – 25cm
  • Pears 10 – 15cm

Before Thin

Captain Kidd pre-thin

After Thin

Captain Kidd apres-thin