You may well be thinking that life is too short to spend time in the orchard thinning fruit. In our view, any time spent in an orchard is a bonus. There are, though, some good reasons to thin fruit particularly if your trees are heavy croppers. The main one is that the tree will produce better quality and size fruit – albeit fewer of them – but there are other benefits
- heavy crops can cause limb damage
- fruit will ripen more evenly as more light and air can penetrate the branches
- it may help reduce the spread of pests and diseases
- heavy cropping in young trees can set them back
Does your apple or pear tree crop heavily one year and then produce little or nothing the next? This is not uncommon. It’s known as biennial bearing. Some cultivars have a natural tendency to this condition, such as the Blenheim Orange and Bramley’s Seedling, but weather conditions and soil fertility can also contribute to the problem. Continue reading
Apple trees bear fruit in different ways. Where on the branch the fruit is produced, determines how the tree should be pruned. The cropping habit of different apple cultivars falls into three main categories:
- spur bearing
- tip bearing
- partial tip bearing
Winter is the traditional time of year to prune apple and pear trees. The reasons for this are partly historical. January and February were quieter months in the agricultural calendar when farm labourers were available to work in the orchards.
In fact, pruning can be done in summer and winter.
As a general rule winter pruning promotes vegetative growth; summer pruning slows growth and encourages fruit production.