Summer Thinning Apple Trees

We’re at the Tollgate Education Center, part of Michigan State University and Novi Michigan, and today we’re talking about thinning apples. And this is a procedure or
process that we go through in the early to mid-summer time, and the process of apple growing is really a
two-year process. The flower buds for this year’s apple
crop really began to be formed last summer
in July and August and September throughout the fall. The apples then
develop throughout the winter and flower this springtime. Now many
homeowners face the issue of having a light crop of apple’s one year and then a really heavy crop the next year, and then a light then a heavy and a light then a heavy. And the way to break
that cycle on years that you have a heavy crop of fruit, just thin off some the apples, and that would mean that the apples that
are left will be larger and higher quality and, more importantly,
they’ll mean that the tree will put more of it’s energy
into producing flower buds for next year’s crop. And so thinning does a couple of things that not only helps to improve the quality of fruit, but this year, but it also helps to improve the quantity of fruit that you will get
next year. The process of thinning is something that is pretty easy to do, and usually it
occurs in about mid-June through early July, and we usually wait for a time of June drop. And June drop is a time that some of our fruit naturally drops from the tree that hasn’t been pollinated entirely or properly. So you wait to see some apples on the ground underneath the tree. And once you’ve gone through with that that time of June drop, then you begin to decide how to thin an apple tree. And in
this case I always start by saying, “Let’s do some cluster thinning.” And when I say “cluster thinning”, I look at a
group of apples that are all in the same cluster, and I take them all off except one. And the best tool that I use for
that is really handy, it’s just your thumbnail. And you simply break off all but the largest
sized apple, and put these apples into a bucket, and
put them into a well-working compost pile. Now this apple that is left is going to to
grow larger this summer, so higher quality fruit, and also next
year the possibility of forming more flower buds on this twig are going to be greater and you’re going to have a higher quality and quantity of fruit next year. So let’s move up the limb. Now as I’m doing my
thinning, I sometimes see that I have some fruit that is diseased or insect
damaged, and here’s some fruit was an apple scab. So there’s
automatically a fruit that I would take off in this thinning process. Here’s
another cluster of two. Move up. Single. Single. Here’s another cluster of three
apples, and here again I have a little bit of
insect injury so that’s an apple that I would again snap off my thumb nail,
and another one comes off, so this is the
apple I’m leaving. Another cluster right here, and take them all off except one. Move up the tree, take it off, take it off, keep moving up the branch. And so as you move around the tree, you’re going to
find lots of apples that need to come off. Again, I like to have a five gallon
bucket close to me, and just drop the apples into a bucket. Then they should be put
into a well-working compost pile, and they’ll deteriorate in that pile fairly
quickly, and I hope your compost as well.


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