Thinning fruit, Easier Said Than Done!


#21

I have seen some evidence of fragile J. Plums surviving when grafted onto more hardy trees. I bought a Laredo plum that died one winter but all the grafts I made on several shiro plums survived nicely- no kill at all on them. I planted one of them in my orchard because it is such a great plum. Now I’m using Shiro as my mother J.Plum trees in my nursery. Many of my favorite red-fleshed and Santa Rosa types get cambium damage, although only occasionally fatal- at least immediately. Such trees suffer the damage low in the trunk so I’m pretty sure this works. I will be interested in your results with cots.


#22

Bob,
Technically, I should be able to graft Amadiocot on a Nadia, right?


#23

I’ve had pretty good luck with plums. I don’t recall losing any so far and I have quite a few. Maybe it is just warm enough here that I don’t see the same issue.

But having a strong rootstock for multi-grafts makes a lot of sense.

I’m not sure- I haven’t tried grafting any apricots to mine- just plums/pluots, which only had iffy success (1 or 2 in 4, unlike my normal 70-85% plum rate). I should try putting some apricots on it this spring before it gets too warm.


#24

Your Delight is cherry plum. Isn’t Nadia a cherry plum, too?
One of my Satsuma on plum seedling died after a winter. I planted it in the spring and it grew nicely all year. The next spring, it was dead.


#25

I think that Nadia is actually 50% cherry while Delight is just a plum that has cherry sized fruit


#26

Now, I got it. Thanks.

Dave Wilson calls it interspecific plum, a J plum x cherry-plum cross. So many crosses these days. My head spins.


#27

I’m going for a mild hijack here. But as a nod to Mamuang, let me state that I thin the heck out of most of my trees. A few I’ve learned to leave alone, as they drop lots of apples all the way through the season. Since there’s no getting around the labor of thinning, I try for a tree or three at a time before moving on to something else. This makes it less of a burden for me, as I don’t mind thinning in brief spurts, while doing it for a day would make me crazy.

I initially misread subdood’s post I’m responding to, believing he was thinking about planting a Cox variety in his orchard and wanted some info on which might work for him. Ninety percent of the way through my wordy post I re-read his and realized this wasn’t what he wrote at all. Still, you’re all going to get this post anyway, because I spent too much time typing it and will eventually steal from my descriptions when I finally get around to producing a long-promised post on how all of my apples have performed for me out here in sunny Nevada.

While I wouldn’t want to talk you out of KOR, which fruited for me for the first time last year and was very good, if you’re looking for flavor closer to COP, Kidd’s probably isn’t what you’re looking for. It’s reputed to be on the sweeter side, and that was definitely my observation. Rubinette, which also fruited for the first time for me last year, was also quite sweet, but had a little more acid. Rather than typing wall-of-text paragraph, I’ll break down the Cox offspring that have fruited for me and my brief impressions of each.

Ellison’s Orange: Produced (past tense, as I finished grafting over the tree this spring after slowly eliminating limbs over the past four seasons) the occasional tasty, though slightly soft apple. Most of the time the apples were sweet and mushy, regardless of how early I picked them, with only a hint of their potential flavor showing up. It’s simply too hot here for this apple. I suspect the same will be true for your area.

Holstein: Such promising flavor in early drops (this tree drops tons of apples every year), but repeatedly failed to produce fully ripe and delicious apples. It also sunburns predictably in my intense summer sun. Still, that promise of a terrific apple kept me from grafting over the tree. It suddenly died this spring just as flower buds were swelling. I have photos and may post them with questions, but I think it might have been delayed scion-rootstock incompatibility. I kept some scions while dormant pruning and will graft a lim somewhere, because that promise of deliciousness… Still, I cannot recommend this for you either.

Fryburg: Nice apple, but much more like Golden Delicious than Cox. It would likely perform for you, as it produces nice apples for me most years and also produces for Scott up in MD, which is much closer to your climate than mine is.

Karmijn de Sonneville: Similar to Holstein in all respects. Drops a ton of fruit every year; sunburns worse than Holstein; rarely displays the flavor it promises; but when it does, Bang! I’ll spray Surround this year and see how that affects things. If it doesn’t help, I’ll topwork the tree in spite of the dynamite flavor I’ve had from a couple of apples (across four or five years of fruiting…how’s that for patience?). Not recommended for you at all.

Kidd’s Orange Red: first fruiting last year on a young but nicely growing tree. I let this tree carry too many apples last year and was paid back with exactly two fruit buds this spring, neither of which will carry fruit. Thin well, especially young trees. The apples are very sweet, 27-28 brix after almost two months in storage. Not my highest measurements last season, but close. They had some acid, but I’d have liked more. I love a highly flavored, high acid apple best—see Suntan below. Folks who don’t like their eyes to cross when eating an apple will love KOR, though at this brix, maybe only super sweet toothers will really love it.

Rubinette: first fruiting on a struggling tree last year, about five apples. I don’t recall them being appreciably different than KOR and my notes aren’t all that helpful with any nuance. They were super sweet with mild acid. I liked them, but hope for more acid in future years.

Suntan: fruited for the first time for me last year. Every apple (15-20) was dynamite, as in the best apples I’ve ever eaten. Explosive Cox flavor, high acid/high sugar. And it keeps too. I ate my last specimen on January 17, three months after harvest, and it remained excellent, if a little lower on acid and less crisp than at harvest (which was at full ripeness on Oct 15 for me—had I harvested two or three weeks earlier, I bet it would keep longer). I can’t speak for this apple’s consistency across years or how it performs in hot and humid conditions, but it laughed off my summer heat. I grafted another tree this spring.

Tydemann’s Late Orange: Almost indistinguishable from Esopus Spitz in my orchard, except it’s not close to as productive. I suppose it could be that there was a mix up somewhere and I’m not actually growing TLO, but the apple looks right and more or less matches its description and I think I got it from the Geneva repository, so it’s likely the real deal. I’ll probably graft over the one large scaffold I have of it because Spitz performs so much better for me.

Herefordshire Russet: Produced its first apples for me last year. Excellent in all respects except for size, but I allowed the mult-grafted tree it’s on, the previously mentioned Ellison’s Orange, to overbear and most of the apples of all three varieties on it were smallish. English russets typically don’t like my dry heat, but HR shrugged it off easily. It’s not as sharp as Suntan (few apples are, in my experience) but it’s definitely got an acid punch to go along with the typical russet sweets. It’s juicy for a russet, though compared to non-russets it’s on the drier side, it’s flavor is complex with plenty of aromatics to go with the acid/sweet and it keeps at least 2.5 months. As with Suntan, I liked it enough to graft new tree this year and topworked what remained of Ellison’s O to this variety. It’s a big winner.


#28

Thanks, Neil, it’s still good to hear about how other Cox family varieties fare. Even if I don’t try any of these other folks can learn from your experiences.

I think I’m done buying any more apple trees, but I’ll probably try grafting some other varieties onto our trees when they get a bit more established.


#29

Neil,
Great report. I hope I will get to taste those varieties in a couple of years. And I won’t be surprised if they taste different as ones grown in a high and dry place and the others are in a wet and not so high elevation east coast.


#30

I have started thinning apricots. I didn’t have a super heavy fruit set as we had a frost come through after they were in bloom. It killed some of the blossoms but left enough that I do need to thin.


#31

And by “cherry-plum”, they mean prunus cerasifera (also known as myrobalan plum).

So Delight is:
Prunus salicina x Prunus cerasifera

While Nadia is:
Prunus salicina x Prunus avium

That doesn’t mean it won’t work- a lot of stonefruit seems at least somewhat compatible. Just that I have no idea…

Kidds Orange Red sure bears precociously and heavily. I didn’t thin enough either and broke the biggest branch and set the tree back. But the apples were large and very good.

Glad to hear it- I finally found and grafted it last year.

Ditto- too much space dedicated to them already.


#32

I just finished thinning my two peach trees and one small nectarine trees. It took me many hours. For me, the sooner I thin, the better for my mental health :grin: As fruitlets get bigger, it is more emotional to thin them off.

For peaches, I thin anywhere from 6-12” per fruit depending on various factors including where they are located, their shapes and sizes, etc. I thought I thinned well last year but it was not enough. Once peaches sized up, one large limb broke and I lost 65 peaches, larger than a golf ball size (yes, I counted).

I thinned hundreds and hundreds off yesterday and today. More than half of them did not make it into the bucket.


#33

It’s an old joke, but thinning fruit would be a lot easier if the elves didn’t come back at night and stick half the fruit back onto the tree.


#34

I’ve used these nipper tools for apples and pears. You can find the cheap one on the left anywhere. It is not that well-made. The spring in the middle came off easily and I lost it which makes it is difficult to open and close the nippers.

The one on the right is an ARS tool cost about $10-12. It is much better quality. Make my thinning job easier and faster. With clusters like pears and apples, using fingers to thin, I’ve ruined a whole cluster at times.

I just thin peaches/nectarines/apricots by hands. I use this tool with plums. Too many plums. They have longer stems making it easier to use nippers.


#35

You are more likely to pull off clusters of pears if you wait too long to thin. The stems get tough.

I stop cutting my finger nails at thinning time, although they get worn down anyway, but longer nails help to clip fruit with. But you need strong nails.


#36

Nail clippers work well on fruit stems


#37

I was thinking about using nails but am not sure i want stain from sap on my nails. I barely could keep my fingernails clean without that, to begin with.

I don’t know how I could effectively use a nail clippers to do this thinning job. Maybe, my coordination is not up for it,


#38

True gardeners don’t care about stains on their hands, if your hands aren’t dirty all spring long you don’t make the grade.:grin:


#39

Ha, ha.
I still need to look decent for my full time job.


#40

I use small or medium scissor-type dog toenail clippers