A couple of my 5 year old apple trees are covered with fruit. This is the first time. Do I thin them out like I do my peaches? About 8" between each? Thanks. filix.
If you don't you might not get fruit next year, the tree might break limbs, and all that little fruit will probably taste bland. So yes thin to at least 8 inches maybe 12. I leave about one apple for every three clusters.
an orchard manager near me tell his employees to use the pinky and thumb spread wide as a gauge. That is on their regular production trees. I agree that on your 5yo tree to go to 12"
My trees haven't yet been thinned this year and it is too late to improve my set for next year, but not too late to improve the quality of this year's fruit and to reduce bending and breaking of branches.
Thank you very much. filix
I've been using the finger-thumb distance too.
Why would you go to 12" in this case? That seems about double the distance I've been using.
At the very minimum, thin all the clusters down to 1 apple
The cluster is a "King" fruit surrounded by its crown (five? fruit). Generally you pluck everyone but the King who has a two day head start on the others. If the King is mis-shapen, or otherwise not appealing then pluck him and leave one of the bigger/best looking crown fruits. Some areas leave a sacrificial crown fruit to shade the King at least for a while. There may be other tricks for other reasons in other areas. Generally I start early and simply pinch the buds off once pedal fall occurs so the bees get their nectar.
Keep in mind there are 3 bearing apple types: tip bearing, spur bearing and "normal" (sorry can't remember what the most common type is called) bearing. Tip bearing and spur bearing should be handled with greater care and consideration due to lesser fruit production.
As an interesting aside I planted six columnar apples (see pic from 2 years ago) (Northpole, Scarlett Sentinel and some yellow one; 2 each) on the east side of my tool shed in Phoenix, AZ 3 years ago. This is the first year they synced bloom which is going on right now. Most apples bloom in Feb-March around here. I don't know if I will ever get apples, but if I do I think they will be Halloween to Christmas apples which would be great timing for here which is pretty much limited to figs, pomegranates, persimmons and pecans by then.
This post was edited by Fascist_Nation on Tue, Jun 17, 14 at 11:07