Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Fruit Thinning

Stephen Hayes of Fruitwise Heritage Apples has just added a terrific new video to his YouTube Channel, a growing resource of essential information on orchard management. I'm so glad he has because this video has reminded me in the nick of time to do something in our orchard which I'd completely forgotten about.

One of the trees we inherited when we moved here is a sadly neglected little apple tree, poorly anchored, patched with rot, and overshadowed by the big Bramley. It's in a pretty sorry state to be honest, and I'll probably have to remove it at some stage, but despite all this it has regularly produced bumper crops of a tiny, yet very tasty, early eating apple. I would like to identify this variety, if only to set my mind at ease before grubbing it out that it's not a rare specimen, but the size of the fruit is proving to be a problem.

Last year I took a handful of these apples to the Stamford Apple Day event, in the hope of a positive identification. The withering looks I received from the experts made it obvious they were none too impressed. 'You didn't thin them out, did you?' was the closest I got to an ID, and I vowed to do just that next year, and return with larger specimens.

So armed with my trusty Felco's, and with Stephen's tutorial fresh in my mind, I set to, removing around half of the fruitlets which had set. On the right is a before and after of one fruit cluster, and I've also shown the bucket of fruitlets and a few fruiting buds I removed. I'm now hoping that this tree is not subject to a June Drop, a natural process whereby an apple tree will lose much of it's excess fruitlets. By September we'll either have a reasonable number of healthy large apples, or none at all!

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