Thin is In, on Fruit Trees

Looking to harvest bigger pieces of fruit from your trees and vines this summer? April and May is the time to take action. Here are some tips from the experts at UC Davis.

For apples, European and Asian pears, apricots, peaches, plums, kiwifruits and persimmons: space fruit evenly along each branch, with perhaps four to six inches between each piece of fruit.

More importantly, be sure to leave the largest sized fruits on the tree or vine.

The best time to fertilize these crops is in August, when the trees are setting their fruit buds for the following year. The UC home orchard specialists recommend applying either five pounds of ammonium sulfate, seven pounds of a 16-16-16 fertilizer or 70 pounds of steer manure per tree.

Because of their small size, cherries are not usually thinned from backyard trees. Also, nut crops, such as almonds and walnuts, are not thinned.

And this valuable tip from the experts at Louisiana State University: when thinning fruit, keep looking at the tree; don't look at the ground. Seeing all that fallen fruit may dissuade you from the task at hand.