Apple hand thinning – Facts for Fancy Fruit

Apple hand thinning

With apples over an inch in size, we traditionally consider that the window for hand thinning has closed. At this point, it’s unlikely we’ll see a thinning response either in terms of fruit size or in flower initiation for next year. But there’s still a good reason to consider some hand thinning.

Many in the state have at least some of their orchards carrying too many fruit and have some over-cropped trees. Often in these situations, fruit can be quite bunchy. See the apple picture under ‘Crop Conditions’ showing 3 Pixie Crunch fruit in a bunch. As the fruit grow, they can push other fruit in the bunch off. Not only are these fruit lost, but they bounce down through the tree canopy damaging other fruit in the process. This problem tends to be most severe in cultivars with short stems, such as Honeycrisp. I know it’s labor intensive, but thinning fruit down to no more than 2 fruit per spur will reduce the amount of fruit that is pushed off. Growers should prioritize high value cultivars first.

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