Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

Have You Thinned Your Apples Yet? Now is the Time


Late July through early august is the perfect time to thin the apples on your tree. Thinning is the process of picking and discarding one or more apples that are part of a tight cluster. Removing a third or more of the apples on a tree allows the remaining apples to grow bigger. It also reduces the chance of cosmetic damage and transfer of worms and diseases that can come from apples that are touching.

Thinning is as much an art as a science.  But here are a few things many professional orchard managers keep in mind when thinning:

  1.            Pick off the smaller fruit first that probably didn’t get pollinated.
  2.        Look for fruit that already has surface marks or evidence of possible worm damage and remove it before healthier, nicer looking fruit.
  3.         Look at the fruit left in clusters and say to yourself: “Will these get to the size I want before they touch each other or touch branches of the tree?”

Though it may seem somehow “wrong” to pick off and discard so much immature fruit, the apples you have left will be bigger and better since more of the tree’s energy can go to producing the remaining fruit.

Other fruit that is typically thinned at commercial orchards in our climate include:

  •           Peaches
  •          Nectarines
  •          Pears
  •          Apricots
  •          Plums