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.

Bud swell on apple tree.
Apple blossoms.

Stone fruit flowers

Fruit set.
Thinning time for stone fruit.

Thinning time for apples.

Stone fruit at harvest.
Apple ready for harvest.