Flowering, fruit thinning and harvest of deciduous fruit trees
Below are the best practices for fruit thinning. Thinning of fruit is critical to achieve maximum fruit size.
- Fruit thinning should begin on stone fruit when fruit is the size of a 10 cent piece and for apples when fruit reaches 25mm in diameter.
- Leave the most advanced fruit where possible as these will quite often be the largest fruit at harvest. Pull off any twins/doubles and split up fruit growing back to back to give fruit room to grow.
- For young trees up to 2 years old leave one fruit per lateral or twig, for stone fruit at 2 years old leave no more than 40 fruit per tree and apples the same.
- For trees 3 years and older leave 1 fruit on small laterals and 2-3 fruit on thicker laterals for stone fruit. For apples leave no more than 3 fruit in a bunch.
- Aim for 40-70 fruit per tree for strong healthy trees in year 3 and increase fruit numbers each year.
- At 4 years old for dwarf stone fruit, healthy, well established trees planted in the ground will carry 200 fruit per tree, 100 fruit per tree if planted in a pot and apples 150-200 fruit if planted in the ground, 70-80 fruit if planted in a pot.
Flower and fruit growth stages below.
Bud swell on peaches and nectarines – centre bud will be a shoot and side buds will be flowers shown in this image.
Stone fruit flowers
Thinning time for apples.