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Connecticut Garden Journal: Thinning the crop helps fruit trees thrive

FILE: A tree full of Empire apples is pictured at Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, Massachusetts.
Matthew Cavanaugh
Getty Images
Too many fruits on plum, peach, apricot, apple and pear trees can lead to the branches breaking from the weight and the fruits being small and not as flavorful. There is a preventative fix for that.

We're potentially going to have an abundance of tree fruits this summer. With the mild winter and spring and the right about of sun and moisture, our cherries, plums, pears, apples and peaches have set lots of fruit. While I'm excited about the potential fruit glut, I also know that trees might be too enthusiastic. Too many fruits can lead to the branches breaking from the weight and the fruits being small and not as flavorful. That's why I'm thinning some fruits from my trees.

Thinning is removing some young fruits so the remaining ones thrive. Nature does a good job by doing something called the June drop. That's when trees naturally drop some of their excess fruit on their own. However, you still may need to hand thin fruits now.

Some fruit trees are okay with a big crop. Mature cherries can handle the load. But plums, peaches, apricots, apples, pears and all young trees can stand a little help.

Thin plums to 4- to 6- inches apart. Peaches, apricots and nectarines should be thinned to 8 inches apart. Apples and pears set fruits in clusters so remove all but one of the fruit in the cluster and make sure the clusters are at least 6 inches apart. For dwarf trees or young trees be more aggressive. We have a few 3 year old peach trees that are loaded with fruit. I may leave 6 or 8 peaches on each tree since they're too young to support the weight of all those fruits. The sooner you thin the better so the remaining fruits will plump up nicely.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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