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Mid-Summer Fruit Drop

August 2, 2011

Have you noticed your apple trees dropping apples this year before they are ripe?  Although there are a few factors that could be the reason, one cause of this early fruit drop is a natural phenomenon if a tree is immensely loaded with fruit. It usually happens mid to late June but this year I’ve had quite a few calls from tree owners whose trees started dropping fruit mid-July.

 It’s a stress reaction of the tree. It realizes it can not support all that fruit so drops some in order to carry the rest to maturity.   If your tree is a biennial bearer you may notice a large quanitiy of fruit ever other year, with a scarce fruit load in between.  Something to consider is to thin the fruit when it is marble size in the heavy bearing years. Where fruits are clustered, remove all but two fruits in each cluster or space the fruits from five to eight inches apart. This will discourage the early fruit drop, which can be messy and require a fair amount of cleanup, and may also cause your tree to bear more consistently from year to year. Another problem that this will combat is branch breakage, as a heavy fruit load can be more than some branches can handle.  To learn more about fruit tree care check out our maintenance and pruning classes, which are posted on our website, taught by Jeffrey Johnson, arborist at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

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