Today I worked on thinning fruit trees. Most traditional fruit trees require thinning. The exceptions are cherry and pear. Cherries usually never get thinned and pears only require thinning if you are getting biennial fruit production or if the weight of the fruit regularly breaks limbs. As a general rule, thin fruit out so that there is six inches of space between each fruit.
Thinning helps the trees by removing non-perfect or damaged fruit, reducing weight on the limbs so there is not breakage, and allowing the tree to send more energy to fewer fruits so the fruit will grow larger and healthier.
When thinning, you are simply removing the fruit. I just grab the fruit and twist it off. You can also use a pair of sharp shears if that is what you prefer to do. I start by getting all of the damaged fruit off of the tree. Then I thin them out so the fruit are at least six inches between the fruit.
Many fruit trees do a little self-thinning themselves. My peach and nectarine trees do this in late May or early June. You can see what this looks like in the picture titled: “Self-Thinning”. Once I see them start self-thinning, that is my queue to get at it myself. Some fruit trees and varieties do not self-thin. An example is apple trees. I have several apple trees that do not thin themselves. As a general rule, I do not thin apple trees. I do have a few apple trees that do not produce huge fruit, but do produce a large number of small fruit. Thinning these fruit trees do seem to increase the size of the fruit.
I included a YouTube video on the Great Escape Farms YouTube Channel of a peach tree that I thinned.