In June or early July, a phenomenon often occurs with fruit trees that is known as the ‘June drop’. During this period, you may fear that you are in for a disappointing harvest, as many small, under-ripe fruits fall from your trees. (Check out our grow guides to find out more about growing a range of common fruit trees.) The good news is that the ‘June drop’ is not usually a sign that something is wrong with your trees but rather a natural phenomenon. Understanding June drop is important to understand why we can maximise fruit harvest by thinning fruits on fruit trees.
June Drop – Nature’s Way of Thinning Fruits on Fruit Trees
June drop can be rather alarming for some novice gardeners. But this can be a good thing. The June drop is nature’s way of thinning fruits on fruit trees – a way in which weaker fruits are weeded out and the tree can rid itself of excess in order to concentrate on maximising the size and health of fruits that remain. While you may think that having fewer fruits is a bad thing, it is important to remember that quality is more important than quality.
If the tree tries to put its energy into too many fruit, the quality of those fruits can be significantly reduced. June drop can often help to remedy this problem. However, June drop does not always occur, and it is sometimes necessary for the gardener to step in to thin the fruits themselves in order to get a better quality harvest later in the year.
Thinning Fruits on Fruit Trees Yourself
Where nature has not done the job for you, it is a good idea to step in and thin fruits yourself for the best results. Not only will thinning the fruits allow the energy from the tree to go into creating delicious, healthy fruits, it can also help to prevent other problems that can significantly reduce your yield.
Thin any fruits that are misshapen or which look unhealthy. These may deplete the trees resources excessively, and can also spread disease to other nearby fruits. You should also thin fruits that are overcrowded. Overcrowding can also lead to disease and make fruits more likely to rot or become diseased as they grow. Overcrowding can also sometimes worsen a pest problem on fruit trees, as it will be harder to see any unwanted visitors on the fruits.
If you grow fruit trees, either in your polytunnel or elsewhere in your garden, you sometimes have to be cruel to be kind. Ruthlessly removing excess fruits forming at this early stage can dramatically improve the harvest you can gather at the end of the growing season.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.