Biennial fruit trees, do you have one(s)?

I hope to hear from others so we all can decide if certain fruit trees that tend to produce biennially are worth growing.

Let me start:
Honey Crisp apple, I thinned heavily even removed clusters of blooms, it still happens
William’s Pride apple : if I don’t thin heavily, it turns biennial.
20th Century A. pear. It has happened every other year. I really thinned them.

The above have friut at leadt 4-5 years so I have seen a pattern. Of these three, 20th C. Is Not worth keeping. Mildly swwet, small fruit. I don’t need to wait to eat them every other year.

On the opposite side, these are the fruit trees that produce consistently through freezing cold, heavy snow and all that.
Korean Giant p, a keeper
Shiro plum, a keeper
Harrow Sweet pear, a keeper
Black Gold and Vandalay cherries, rot so much, keeping them is questionable.

what about your trees?

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Yes My honeycrisp apples always produce a light crop then a heavy crop. I would not trade honeycrisp for anything (I have 4 producing now). By the way they all produce light or all produce heavy at the same time. I love the apples.

Macoun apple, Goldrush apple seem very biennial. Liberty and Jonagold give me big crops every year. Haven’t had Honeycrisp producing long enough, but I’ll try to prune accordingly.

My Pristine yellow apple that I love has definitely turned biennial. Too bad since I love the apple so much. Too bad. Last year it has a rather large crop but I thinned like crazy and only took 30 apples off of the 9 year old tree. That is not a huge amount of apples, (I was careful). The tree has a mind of its own. The apples are still great though. I’m waiting to see how many I get this year.

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My Gala has three [3] flower clusters this year.

My two William’s Pride produce a total of three clusters of flowers as of today :frowning:

I have 1 goldrush and 2 Honeycrisp on Bud9 that produced good last year and this year they do not have a SINGLE bloom.

You’re not thinning enough. 20th Century is not biennial if thinned enough. It sets at least 10X too many fruit and is very difficult to thin adequately. The fruit isn’t small if thinned enough.

My Beauty plum had over 100 plums last year and has less than 10 this year.

I think I thinned over a thousand off that tree which is about 7 Ft tall. I know it will fruit profusely again next year, I’ll thin them even more aggressively. My friend winced when she saw a bucket full of fruitlets I thinned off. She calls me mean :grin:

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I’m glad to see my Honeycrisp isn’t the lone ranger…, it made just a handful of apples two years ago, and last year it had a paltry 20-30 maybe. This year it looks like just nothing there. Leaves, leaves and more leaves. It’s a 9 year old. (I was really looking forward to this year, these apples are really good) When it started looking like a big fat zero for this year, I got to reading up on this guy… Here’s an old article I ran across on Honeycrisp in case anyone’s interested.

My Haralson seems to go heavy one year and light the next, but never shuts me out completely.

Empire, Red Del, & Mac seem consistent year in and year out. (Seems like when they are light everything is, so I think it environmental rather than variety driven in those cases)


Also, Fruitnut, my 20th Century is next to Korean Giant. Both are same age trees and get the same thinning treatment.

KG produces profusely every year including this year. In my eyes, 20th C is definitely prone to biennial.

Yes agreed 20th is more prone to biennial. And at least for me it sets way more fruit than KG. I actually enjoy thinning KG and many yrs with our freezes don’t need to thin. I hate thinning 20th because all those fruits hide in the thick leaves on spurs. I’ve taken to thinning most Asian pears before bloom. At the right stage you can cut off whole clusters of flowers to reduce but not eliminate thinning needs.

My Gravenstein, no flowers this spring.

IJ…that was easily the single best link I’ve ever read that was posted here at GF. Every single thing that was said in that article held up to what I’ve witnessed myself. Further, it emphasized, for me, the real difficulty of managing thousands of trees as oppossed to a BYO that is growing just a few.
“Starve them” took me back a bit, but when I thought about it, I think these guys are right. I have so many thoughts on this article I cannot possibly mention them all here. This most definitely was written by someone who was “in the know” or just a very good interviewer who chose the right subjects for information.

Yes, like everyone else, I too, have been witness to Honeycrisp’s tendency toward biennial bearing. In truth, most apples have this, and those that do not, are not immune to it. From what I’ve read, none of them are, but HC has a particular inclination in that direction for reasons the article gives. If we all were honest, really none of us thin like we should. They are thinning at 8mm, that’s less than 3/8" of an inch.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I routinely thin at golf ball size, and I DO NOT do the vast majority of their other (very good) suggestions. Partly because I’m lazy, and partly because I didn’t know any better until now. I’m surprised that this much, of this good, of information was given out by successful growers. He / she interviewed a lot of growers and carefully derived some awesome information that can, and should, be very useful to us.
Thank you for the post.

I mean really, Thank You.

Yes Gravenstein is very biennial also.

Thanks, I learn a new technique every day. Bill

That is a good article on Honeycrisp. Lots of interesting info there.

Honeycrisp can be a dynamite apple. It’s what got me interested in growing my own fruit a few years back. We tasted Honeycrisp at a u-pick orchard and it blew us all away with it’s crispness and juiciness. Even the early Honeycrisp I ate in stores had been incredibly good. Last year thought I noticed a lot of the store bought Honeycrisp we were buying really disappointed and did not live up to the original tasting we had. I planted an HC tree but it has not come into bearing yet. If it ends up being too much trouble I’ll remove it or top work it over.

I have noticed the same thing at our stores. My first HC was a great tasting apple but I suspect that more people are growing these and some quality issues are being skipped so they can capitalize on it’s higher selling price. Bill


How’s your HC? Last year, yours and mine were loaded. I removed many flower clusters in hope of avoiding a biennial issue. It has not worked for me, yet.

Speed - among several fruit trees I grow, HC is a lot worth its trouble than many others, particularly stone fruit. HC is a definitely keeper in my yard.