This Weekend: Thin Your Apples

Posted by Anne Fletcher on

If you have an apple tree, you probably have lots of baby apples beginning to form on your tree.  Now is a good time to thin them.

Apples that need thinning

If your apples look like this, you have too many crowded together  When they grow this way, the fruit competes for the tree's limited resources and will be of lower quality at harvest time.  You should aim for just 2-3 apples per spur to give them space to mature into big, tasty fruit.

Crowded Apples

Here's another example of a crowded spur, and below, what it looks like after thinning:

Apples after thinning

There's nothing complicated about thinning apples.  Just go around the tree and for each bunch that has more than 2-3 fruits, pick the extras to leave space for the remaining apples to mature.  When choosing which to pick and which to leave, I tend to remove the smaller ones and the most crowded.

I know it can seem like a waste to send so much future fruit to the compost bin, but you will end up with more, and better, fruit in a couple months.  Crowded apples trees will begin to drop the excess fruit anyway, after having used precious resources trying to ripen too heavy a crop.  It's better to remove them now while they're still quite small.  And they'll make a great addition of nitrogen to your compost pile, helping it heat up and creating a rich amendment to feed your soil.  In nature and gardening, nothing really goes to waste.

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