Q: I have a lot of fruit on my fruit trees. If I want them to get good size, should I thin them?

A: Last year’s late freeze damaged fruit on many trees. This allowed fruit trees to put much more energy into developing fruit buds last summer, which means many of our trees are loaded with fruit this year.



Q: I have a lot of fruit on my fruit trees. If I want them to get good size, should I thin them?

A: Last year’s late freeze damaged fruit on many trees. This allowed fruit trees to put much more energy into developing fruit buds last summer, which means many of our trees are loaded with fruit this year.

At first glance, this might seem to be a good thing. However, too many fruit can cause problems.

A heavy fruit crop can use so much energy that little is left for fruit bud development, which can result in a small crop next year. A heavy fruit crop as it matures can also result in limb breakage. Finally, too many fruit results in smaller fruit.

Thinning can alleviate all of the aforementioned problems. Thinning helps ensure that good crops are produced each year; larger fruit is produced; and it will limit weight and preserve branches.

So how much thinning should we do?

Thinning recommendations vary with the type of tree. Guidelines for fruit spacing are as follows:

• Apples and pears ­— Four to six inches apart

• Peaches — Four to eight inches apart

• Plums and prunes — Four to five inches apart

• Apricots — Two to four inches between fruit.

These are averages, so you may have several fruit clustered closer than this distance. As long as the average on the branch is close to the recommended spacing, the fruit should size well.

Cherries are not thinned and can produce a full fruit load.

For more information call the OSU Extension Center, 14001 Acme Road in Shawnee at 273-7683.