Should I thin blossoms or wait for fruitlets


LOTS of bloom this year on the frankenapple. I want to start thinning before I leave town for a week on Saturday, but I hesitate to start nipping of blooms! I mean, what if something goes wrong and we lose some of the remaining fruit? I’m trying to guess at the chance of frost (not too likely) but I’m still nervous?

Thoughts welcome, please.


If your previous experience with this tree is that it sets well, then thin 50-70% of what you would thin now and do the remainder at the fruitlet stage. Otherwise (including if you don’t have enough experience with it), wait till the fruitlets are there.


My Harrow Sweet bloomed like mad. I took all the flowers blooming at the end of twigs out first. Those twigs cannot carry the load anyway.

Then, I took several clusters of blooms off my Duchess. One 4 ft branch cannot carry 20-30 clusters of blooms to fruition.

Those are my logic. There will definitely be round 2 and 3. If needed, round 4.

Last year, somehow I did not do a good job with 20th Century pear, Honey Crisp and Gold Rush apples. They all look this year off.


At that stage I’d think about taking off whole clusters of flowers. Instead of trying to leave the king flower take all the flowers off part of the clusters. I’d think that would be easier and more effective in assuring return bloom next yr. I end up taking all fruit off at least 2/3 of the clusters. Maybe do half now or whatever seems reasonable.


Thanks friends. You’ve clarified my thinking for me and I’m getting started right now. Here’s pictures of the tree in question:


That looks overwhelming. But as I found out this yr it’s not as bad as it looks. It’s amazing in life what we can do one step at a time.

I got cute this yr and tried NAA for thinning on half of my apples. I won’t bore with the details but I’m not trying that again. An hour here and there took care of the hand thinning. Those sprayed with NAA, well all I got was some tree damage.


I stayed with it for about an hour, maybe more, before the sun got to me. I found cutting off entire clusters to be pretty straightforward and fast- I could have gotten carried away!

But bees are all over it today and I know I’m going to be doing it all over again in a couple of weeks, barring a really major frost. It’s getting kind of late for that, but anymore who knows?


It’s even faster to cut off entire branches. That way you save a lot of time and get better sun exposure to what is left.


A little Sevin sprayed at petal fall works well to thin apples.

I tried NAA a few years ago and got unsatisfactory results too.


That’s a safer option…for the tree. I’ve got varieties that bloom for 2-3 months. That’s apples in a low chill climate. Makes it harder to protect the bees and to use thinners. I’ll stick with hand thinning. I just wanted to see if NAA actually worked. It didn’t at the recommended rate so I went stronger and caused some damage.


Got it. 2 -3 months really is a long bloom time. My bloom period is about 5 weeks total counting the early bloomers and the late bloomers. I hate to hand thin apples more than I hate hand thinning peaches!

I just made a second pass on the varieties that did not thin well enough the first time. Second pass was Maxcell + Sevin. Weather turned cool after I sprayed so overthinning should not be a problem.