June drop

It’s around this time of year that apple trees – and also pears sometimes – shed some of their fruits, a phenomenon known as the June drop. It’s as though the trees know how much fruit they can bear, so spontaneously shed the excess.

Hence it’s nothing to worry about – but it doesn’t reduce the possible need for further fruit thinning. This is particularly advisable for those varieties that are prone to crop heavily, indeed to the point of exhaustion, leading them to take time out the following year, when there may be a very small crop or no crop at all – biennial bearing.

The simplest way round biennial bearing is to thin the blossom before the fruits even start to form. But now is a good time to look at all fruit trees anyway, just to see how the fruits are developing. If they are looking crowded, thin them. You may need to reduce the crop by up to half or even more. Fruits should be well spaced on the branches so that each can swell to the desired size without competition from its neighbours.

It's a good idea to thin fruits in early summer - you get a better crop in the long run

Apart from producing bigger, more succulent fruit, fruit thinning avoids crowded fruits rubbing up against each other, which will lead to rotting where they touch and prevent even ripening. You can also shorten the new growth the tree has put on since blossom time to expose the developing fruits to the sun.

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