Thinning fruit, Easier Said Than Done!


And what the June drop don’t get, the squirrel do!


We are just about done thinning. We have some flat peach trees to get through then done with the peaches. I left the flat peaches till last because they want to split on the bottom side. Thought maybe leaving them to thin last might prevent some of the splits. I don’t know that it did, but we have been able to thin off all the splits. Takes a ton of time because you have to look at the bottom of just about every peach to see if it needs thinned off.

We don’t pick up any fruit, but I probably would if I had less trees. Some of the early varieties still have too much fruit, so we will have to go through those again. Still haven’t touched any apples or pears, or plums.

I don’t feel like we’ve worked long hours, but I’m exhausted. I wake up exhausted. Trying to move through the trees fast and crawling around under the trees to thin/prune is hard on an old man.


Around here you can hire labor from a temp service for around $14, which includes workers comp and all other employer fees (but I’m sure the East Coast would be higher). If you don’t like the way one of the workers works, you don’t have to invite them back the next day.

I hope I don’t sound racist, but I’ve been told Hispanic women are generally the best fruit thinners, from temp services.

I’ve used high school kids before, but you have to work to keep them off their phones.


Thank you, Scott and everyone for your input. I don’t have a tree. I have several apricots grafted on to my peach and nectarine trees. Most grafts were done in 2016 and a couple in 2017. Most flowered and set fruit this spring. Many fruit have dropped as recently as two days ago.

I sprayed apricot three times with pesticide + insecticide and Surround. The last spray was with Indar and Spinosad, two days ago. Does this mean I should expect more dropped?

With anecdotes from all of you, it seems if I look at apricots the wrong way or stare at them too long, they drop. What a sensitive fruit it is!!!



I have to crawl around my apples and A pear trees to pick up all the dropped/thinned off fruit. I empathize with you about aching body after such a task.

I think around here, people still pay $10-12 an hour for babysitting. I work in human services, particularly with people with developmental disabilities. The pay for direct care staff is so low that we cannot keep good staff. They are paid about $12 an hour. But I digress.


Thanks for a reminder. I went out to check my Saturn. The one with a split bottom was the largest one, of course. I have only one branch of Saturn that is also at a pedestrian height so checking and thinning them is not as such a back breaking task.


Last round of thinning peaches and a few nectarines. Some on higher branches escaped the first couple of rounds so they were a thumb size now.

I saw a few insect damage on fruit and flagging of shoots from OFM. This is after 3 rounds of sprays a week apart. Anyone in high pest pressure who spray every 10-14 days may be disappointed.


It seems that we’ve had a lot of gray rainy weather this spring. I wonder if the lack of sun has made the usual June drop worse, as the trees recognize that there is too much fruit for them. I was out thinning peaches in the last few days and it didn’t seem like the fruit was as overloaded as I remember from the past. I only had to take off about half. in the past, I would have left 90% of it on and had to tie up the tree to prevent broken branches…

Maybe Mamung had it figured out, but I’ve been going out with a little bucket. I guess I haven’t thinned enough for it to strike me how inefficient I’m being. It’s a fairly slow process anyway, as I agonize not only about which is largest, the best way to pack in the most fruit with a given spacing, up vs down, and most importantly, which fruits have bug bites (annoying as I need to check all sides). Even though I’ve been spraying the last two years, I think I built up quite a population of PC before that.

Interestingly, there seems to be a fairly limited damage range. The trees that have just started bearing, while less than 50 feet from the older trees, are seeing far fewer PC hits. I wonder if they just climb up the tree they fell from the previous year. Or at least start there and then die after biting a few sprayed fruits, before they have a chance to fly 50ft to the newer tree.

A little pair of spring loaded mini scissors is good for this too. I also used them to cut up blossoms (cutting petals off and for harvesting pollen) when attempting controlled crosses.


Clearly you need to start investing in land, maybe a small farm in the rolling hills so you can truly indulge in your obsession with the conditions to produce the highest quality fruit- dawn to dusk sun in fast draining soil.


Although we had a lot of spring rain,it did not affect other fruit. All my peaches, plums,apples, pears, etc were loaded (before thinning). Apricot were loaded ( on each grafts); too. They did not turn yellow and dropped off when they were young, either. They dropped a lot in May (not even June for June drop) and several were larger, closer to full size ones. Very frustrating.

I am more inclined to think they dropped because of other issues i.e. wrong spray?, not lack of pollination.

I did not figure out to put a tarp under a tree during thinning, either. I’ve used
a little bucket you saw in the pics above. Maybe, we are a couple of slow learners :smile:

You waited a lot longer than me to thin. To me, it is definitely harder to thin larger fruit. I was not as careful as you were during thinning. Sometimes, I thinned off smaller but clean fruit and left larger ones before realizing that the larger ones had bug bites on them. Oops!!!

I am pretty much done with thinning. My larger-size (6x9”) Organza bags just arrived. I will bag peaches with them to help keep Surround residue on my peaches (cosmetically speaking only). On to bagging fruit!!!


I’m working on it. At least if you count the small yards that multi-families sit on. Each new property gets some trees and bushes (mostly the no-spray things like mulberries, persimmons, and jujube). Of course, such properties bring on other work with them, so much so that I haven’t had a chance to finish thinning my trees (and let’s not talk about weed control…) yet.

Apricots ripen before those other fruits, so I would guess that as they start to size up (earlier), they may run into June drop a bit quicker. You were more on top of thinning than me, so you didn’t get the drop from peaches and other fruits. I let all the trees do some of the work for me by waiting until they dropped some fruit, then went through and thinned more. I bet your way will produce better results, as you didn’t stress the trees to the point that they dropped fruit. But hopefully we’ll have enough sun now that mine will be able to handle the remaining crop.

I still have to thin a few peaches, and all my plums, apples, and pears.

I actually find it easier. When I see a cluster of 4 big fruit, I know they can’t all ripen, so I don’t feel too bad about taking 2 out. Sometimes even 3, leaving just one (which is what I should probably do all the time). But, if I thin earlier, then I don’t know which will drop anyways, have bug bites, splits, etc, and I get even more conservative, leaving far too many backups. Which means that it needs yet another painful pass later.


Undoubtedly you’ve seen @Olpea’s post about how bad OFM and PC has been this year…sad to see that you are experiencing it too. In the past I sprayed every 10 days and had almost no damage. This year, just as you say, 10 days is too long… I’ve been hit hard as have others and now you- very odd. I’m wondering if Mark’s suspicions about stickers has some validity, I think it may!

Anyway, I mostly just wanted to say that based on your thinned fruit photos, you must be having a banner year this year and it couldn’t happen to a nicer person. I’m really happy for you because just like me, you had some tough years (yours being due to late frosts). As for my thinning, something you told me back a few days after I got hit with a late frost this year has turned out to be incredibly true. Even though I lost probably 80% of my blooms, it actually worked out pretty well because for the first time in many years, I have had to do almost no thinning at all. The fruit on my stone fruit trees is still below what it should be, but I think I’d trade the lower yield for the pleasure of not having to thin fruit this year.

BTW…I’m sure everyone has probably seen them, but I’ve always wondered if it would be worth it for me to buy one of those peach tree thinning implements that go on a weed eater. Keep in mind that I now have about 40 peach and nectarine trees so if these work well it might be worth it (to me, not for those with just a few trees)



Thanks for the kind wirds. My PC pressure is not higher this year. My timing of spray is a lot tighter so I’ve seen less damage. After PC, I atill have to deal with coddling moths and OFM that have more than a few generations a season. Can’t let the guard down but they usually win.

@BobVance. You may be right that May drop of apricots is the June drop of apples. They were just quite large so I feel bad when they dropped.



I almost bought one of those Cinch thinners which go on a cordless drill a friend showed one to me.

The problem is that if you thin the blossoms, then get some frost damage from freezing temps, the damage is compounded. On most years here, we get partial crops anyway. To use a blossom thinner would mean a partial of a partial crop, in marginal years.


That is a GREAT point that I completely agree with. I was recently watching a you tube video of a giant commercial orchard and the orchard manager was bragging about how much money they save by thinning blooms instead of thinning actual fruit. He had good points- that the workers could pick off blooms much quicker because they happen before leaves come out so you don’t have to push leaves aside to find and remove a bloom the way you do with a fruit. That might be great for CA, but the whole time I was watching it I kept thinking it was a pretty big risk to thin right down to individually spaced blooms, because if you get a late freeze (or if the bloom doesn’t get pollinated or the fruit forms but drops) you could wind up with FAR less fruit than the number of blooms left. I’d be scared to thin blooms instead of fruit because so many things can go wrong- just like you said. Once I have a marble sized peach on my tree, there is a pretty good likelihood that most of them will become fruit, so I can thin accordingly. To thin blooms is counting (and thinning) chickens before they hatch. I’m saying pretty much the same thing you did, so I completely agree.


Hi, we are around 4-5 weeks after blossom drop, the initial fruit drop has occurred, we have little curio damage but a huge set this year on plums and peaches. I would like to start thinning but the bloom was late this year, how long should I wait to insure the June drop is over?

On the Curio topic, I have never in the last 20 yrs found a Curio larval in a plum or peach. I use imidian at petal fall 1 lb per 100 gal, followed depending on the year by 1 or 2 more sprays.We have ~ 350 trees which bloom at different times and have to wait for the last ones to finish before spraying. I have cut open many many strikes but none had a live worm inside, or even significant damage and none of our customers have complained (but they do about other stuff). My personal opinion is imidian has kickback power, killing the egg or in-mature larva.



I am in zone 6 B central MA. My plum, both Euro and Asian almost done with June drops. I expect by mid week next week, they would be all done with June drop…


Imidan is known to have kick-back- I got that info from Cornell guide-lines. The only new pesticide class that has it is supposedly the neonics.

Do they call PC Curio up there? :grin:


I don’t know if this has been posted on the forum before, but here is a study of the kickback of various insecticides on PC.

According to the study, the best insecticides (currently available) for curative action were phosmet (Imidan), thiamethoxam (Actara), acetamiprid (Assail) and thiacloprid (Calypso).

(Belay) clothianidin was not mentioned specifically, but they did say that thiamethoxam was powerful because it converts to clothianidin, which is very toxic to PC, so I think it would be fair to say the insecticide clothianidin (Belay) should be on the list as very effective against PC, which has generally been my experience.


Imidacloprid (in its sprayable form, anyway) worked very well on my plums this year. I’ve eaten several now, and the bitten ones ripened with nothing but a mark.

I like acetamiprid better to try because it’s safer for bees in that class, though. I’ll use it instead of imidacloprid next year.


Hi, well flocks of cedar wax wings showed up yesterday to eat the hard but blushing cherries, I guess I will not have to thin them. Cherry aphids are out, last year we got creamed by them so I sprayed some Malathon before netting. Started getting the nets out 5 done today, 40 to do tomorrow.