Friday, June 18, 2010

June drop

Well before it is time for harvest, the size of the New England apple crop is impacted by “June drop.” Occurring now, it is a time when the apple tree divests itself of surplus fruit competing for food, water and nutrients. June drop enables the remaining apples to mature to a good size, without overwhelming the tree.

The fallen apples typically are about one-half inch to one inch in diameter. Even with this naturally occurring governor, farmers follow June drop with additional thinning, often by hand, to ensure a good crop. Only the best-looking, healthiest apples are left to ripen.

If allowed to, almost all the blossoms on an apple tree will bear fruit. But as little as 5 percent to 10 percent are needed for a full crop. By removing excess fruit, the tree is spared from the threat of breaking under its own weight, and does not have to expend energy producing lots of smaller apples.

Another reason for thinning is to allow development of flower buds for next year's crop. This is especially important for varieties that bear fruit in alternate years.

1 comment:

  1. In my youth I spent a year on a kibbutz in Israel. One of my many tasks was thinning the peach trees, they called it "gezum," meaning to abort the fruit, leaving only 1 or maybe 2 to ripen on each cluster. Hard work, up and down ladders, moving the ladders, but not as hard as picking grapes. For grapes, you start picking early in the morning, around 5 or 6, the air is cool, you have a small clipper that fits over your thumb (you get a blister very quickly which eventually turns into a callus), and you cut the cluster of grapes, remove any rotten ones (and eat some, which are icy cold and delicious)and lay them in a sack you are wearing over your shoulder. By noon the sun is brutal, the grapes are warm and your thumb is killing you.