Q Why should I thin fruit?
You'll still get fruit even if you don’t thin it out, but if you do, the fruit will be much bigger and taste better. Fruit trees and bushes tend to set as much fruit as they can to produce as much seed as possible. However, we're more interested in the fleshy fruit rather than the seed so we want to encourage the plant to produce fewer fruits and channel its energy into making these as luscious as possible. Some plants can get into a cycle of fruiting every other year (biennial bearing), and thinning can help to break this cycle and encourage more regular crops. There's a certain degree of natural thinning that goes on, with plants spontaneously dropping some immature fruits, but you’ll need to follow this in early June by reducing the fruit still further.
Caption: Thinning fruit will produce better crops
Q How far apart should I thin fruit?
- Apples to one fruit per cluster: for dessert varieties, thin to 10-15cm between clusters; and for cooking varieties, thin to 15-23cm between clusters.
- Plums should be thinned to 5-8cm apart.
- Pears should be reduced to two fruits per cluster, with clusters 10-15cm apart
- Peaches and nectarines should be thinned to 10cm apart when they are the size of a hazelnut, and then thinned again to 15cm apart when they’re walnut-sized.
- Gooseberries should have every other fruit removed.