I sat down to leaf through my gardening magazines and came across an article in the June/July 2010 issue of ‘Organic Gardening’ magazine about fruit thinning that shed more light on my rather vague post of a few days ago.
The article talks about apple tree thinning in particular. The natural fruit drops that occurs as an apple tree sheds excess fruit as a natural thinning process that is normal for apple trees. The more fruit a tree brings to fully ripe and ready to be picked, the more energy the tree is expending on developing the fruit and keeping the tree healthy. If a tree has a particularly heavy crop one year, it is less likely to bear so much fruit the next. Even with the natural fruit drop it is usually helpful to do more selective thinning of little apples (the article says the size of a dime) to promote a better crop.
So, how to thin…. The article says to start with diseased or deformed apples first, then identify the largest apple in the cluster and remove the other apples around it. The rule of them is to have the apples spaced approximately six inches apart along the limb.
I was glad to find this information and, in retrospect, it makes total sense.