My apple trees have set a heavy crop of fruit. Do I need to thin the fruit?

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Question: 

My apple trees have set a heavy crop of fruit. Do I need to thin the fruit?

Answer: 

Apple and other fruit trees occasionally set too many fruit.  Thinning is necessary to (1) obtain large, high quality fruit at harvest, (2) allow development of flower buds for next year’s crop, thus overcoming the tendency of some fruit trees to bear fruit in alternate years, and (3) to prevent limb breakage. 

Hand thinning of apples should be done within 6 weeks of full bloom.  Leave the largest apple in a cluster unless it is damaged.  After thinning, apples should be spaced about 8 to 10 inches apart on the branches. 

Pears, apricots, and peaches may also need to be thinned.  Fruit should be spaced 6 to 8 inches apart on the branches.  Plums will generally thin themselves. 

 

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