My dad's honey crisp apple is loaded. Tips on thinning?

I’m visiting my dad in central California and his young honey crisp is loaded. I am going to help stake it, but how should he be thinning this thing out? They kind of grow in clusters like cherries it seems. So we just use scissors to cut off maybe half of the apples?


I use scissors when they are about 1/4 that size - easier to get to stem. I leave one apple per cluster in my first thin and inevitably I thin against a few weeks later when it’s obvious I didn’t thin enough.

I have never over thinned any fruit trees I have in over a decade of wondering if I’m thinning too much.

I usually try to thin to about 6” apart - roughly the width of a “hang loose” hand gesture between your thumb and pinky.

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Ideally that poor thing should have not carried a single apple. It will stunt its growth and the chances are good that it will not even flower next year.

But because your dad is not going to let you thin them all, start by leaving only one apple per cluster, and then remove more if they are still less than one fist distance from one another.

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I’d also have thinned them earlier. Like dime to nickel diameter.

Twice in years gone by, I’ve picked 25 bushels of apples from one tree. But, the trees were mature, standard trees. Rome & winesap.

Thanks for the advice. I already took all fruit off even smaller trees. My mom passed away recently and she was there one who thinned and took care of the trees. I’m trying to help out when I visit. It’s just him on the ranch now, so super large harvests are not needed. He doesn’t know how to can or save fruit. Something else I will need to teach him.