Must I remove ALL fruit in the second season?

This is the second season for my fruit trees (nectarine, nectaplum, pluot, plum, cherry, fig). I am practicing Backyard Orchard Culture (i.e. keeping the trees small). I understand that the standard advice for 2nd year trees is to remove all fruit, or risk stunting the tree.

Given that I want to keep these trees small anyway, does this advice still hold absolutely? (I’m thinkning maybe stunting is desirable in my case.)

Is it ok to keep just a few fruit on each tree? If so, how many? Would 6 be ok?

Does all of this apply to fig trees? Or can I let them keep their fruit? (They produced a few figs last year, the year I planted them as small whips; I must confess that I let them keep their fruit, but if it’s a really bad idea, I will remove them this year)


You don’t want to overbear. It stresses the tree and root-system and you might set yourself up for longer term issues of vigor and ability to fight off damage/infection. 1st year roots. 2nd year branches. 3rd year can start fruiting. That said, leaving a couple fruit to be able to get a taste is fine.


I have been on this site 5 years and that is the first time I ever heard anybody say you should remove 2nd year fruit. None of my trees had fruit the 2nd year, but I find it rather surprising and if anybody has any references to this, I would like to see them.

I don’t think it applies to any trees. I have been growing figs for 5 years at least and also belonged to both fig forums and never heard anybody say to remove fruit the 2nd year. First year, yes,. Figs can take a few years to fully develop flavor so don’t judge the fruit until the 3rd fruiting year. I kinda hate this but having almost culled some figs because of bland taste the first 2 years, I’m so glad I waited! Some figs are good from the getgo like Smith, but others take 3 years like Osborn Prolific.


The removal of fruit depends on two things, 1: the relative vigor of the trees and 2: the relative compulsion of the grower to hurry up and taste some.

Peaches are often capable of bearing fruit here the second year when they had a vigorous take off in year one as transplanted whips, especially if they arrive with a substantial root system.

Whatever fruit is allowed to remain on the tree when it’s still small will take some of the energy from growing roots and new wood. In my own orchard I have so many established trees I’m more concerned about how new varieties taste than getting the tree as big as possible quickly.

That said, 3 or 4 peaches on on a 1"+ caliber peach tree that’s growing vigorously shouldn’t make much difference, although probably more than a 3 or 4 diminishing of the crop the following year- but that crop should be half a bushel anyway.


I’ve found that stone fruit like the ones you grow often grow vigorously. I agree with @alan that if your stone fruit trees have established well in a short time, leaving a few fruit on them in the 2nd year won’t set them back that much. I have done that with my 2nd peach trees and seen no obvious harm. (my plums and cherry did not set fruit until 3rd year). But if your stone fruit do not grow that well, you may not want to keep any fruit.

I’ve set back my 2nd pear and apple trees out of my desire to taste the fruit sooner than I should. Fortunately, my trees recovered after a couple of years. Sometimes, they don‘t. I think @BobVance have a tree or two stunted this way.


As others have said…if your tree is vigorous and healthy…it won’t hurt the tree to leave a few fruit.

In the end though…the tree is YOURS. You can do what you want…and don’t feel bad about it!


And if your tree doesn’t start vigorous growth by the second year, better start doing some diagnosis on what your problem is.

Edmark, when you say you want to keep your trees small, what is small? I grow a lot of peaches and nectarines, although most but not all of my trees are young, 3 years or less in the ground. For nectarines if the trees do not reach a certain size within three years they seem to stunt. I do not let them fruit the first year and now I do not let them fruit the second year. It is a waste because the squirrels and raccoons invariably pick at least a few peaches off of each tree. Even if I wanted to keep the trees small I would want the base of the tree to get as large as possible, to me (no scientific data) this is an indication of the future health, vigor of the tree. If a tree only reaches two inches in diameter at base after three years it likely will not be a healthy tree and not produce good peaches - I have recently culled some trees like this. This may not be true if you are using citation or St Julian root stock on peaches. As far as cherries go I have never had a tree bloom within 3 years after planting so I have no experience. You did not mention pears but I have Asian pears on betulifolia which I have read are very vigorous growers the first three years and may stunt if you let them produce the first three years. My experience with Asian pears supports that they do stunt if they produce in the first three years.

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Figs have really aggressive roots and I would not worry about them. If the stonefruits were bare root I would let them go another year. Potted would have been bigger and should be fine. Bare root usually requires an extra year of two to rebuild their lost roots and settle in. Even so, one or two fruits should not hurt if it can support it.

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I’m putting 4 trees in a 10x10 foot area, so each tree will be about 5x5 and about 7 feet tall.

Although my nectarines and nectaplum all appear to have set some fruit, I’m not sure about the plums and pluots. The fruit is still very small on those trees; I don’t know how big they have to get before they are likely set. And the cherries don’t have any fruit. The few figs I got from my Black Jack, and Tiger Panache tasted pretty good last year, so I’m pleased to learn that they may taste even better in the future.

Thanks, All, for the advice!

I wanted to comment on this. I too have been for 6 or 7 years practicing BYOC, with some alterations for my area. I wanted to tell you it works really well. My trees are 7 years old and the tallest is 7 feet. One is only 5 feet. I love it!

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Yes, I’ve had some apples on dwarf rootstocks which really stalled out after early bearing. Peaches seem OK, except on Citation rootstock which are hard to size up even in the best of circumstances.

Depends. If the tree is very vigorous the first season (which can happen, especially w/stone fruits), it’s probably OK.