Posts Tagged ‘fruit trees’

June drop

June 21, 2010

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.

Peach leaf curl

May 18, 2010

Gratified as I was to see developing fruitlets on my peach tree, I was less pleased by a reddening and puckering of some of the leaves – peach leaf curl.

Peach leaf curl is a common fungal disease of peaches and related trees

This is a fungal disease (Taphrina deformans) that often strikes at this time of year. In a sense, it has already struck, as (as I understand it) the fungal spores have been resting in cracks in the tree bark over winter awaiting the onset of warmer (and damper) weather. Apparently, you are supposed to spray the tree with a fungicide in late winter, so it is too late to do much about it now.

Apart, that is, from removing all the affected leaves. This I have done – fortunately not too arduous, as it is still a very young tree and all parts are within easy reach. I have also read that you are supposed to remove the fruits as well – it helps the tree regenerate – but I cannot bring myself to do this. As it happens, only a proportion of the leaves were affected. The remainder have reached full length and appear healthy, so are unlikely to succumb at this stage. Any new leaves should also grow normally.

So I am prepared to take a chance on it (the plant is scarcely laden with fruit anyway). The tree is in my sheltered courtyard, and  I’ll be able to keep my eye on it as I’m constantly out here now the weather has warmed up.