Gardening: ‘Simple task’ to do to apple trees for ‘good quality’ crops and larger fruit

Apples: RHS demonstrates how to thin apple trees

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Apple trees can be found in many gardens across the UK and benefit from being thinned. In a video for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), a gardening expert shared the “simple task” gardeners should do to their apple trees to ensure a “good quality crop of fruit of good size”. Team leader at RHS Wisley, Paul Kettel, said thinning apple trees will benefit this year’s crop and future crops that come as well.

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He said: “It’s a simple task to do and is really one worth undertaking.”

Thinning ensures a “good quality crop of fruit of good size”.

Gardeners will be able to get a regular yield from apple trees instead of having a huge amount of apples one year and a barren year the next.

Gardeners will get a good size, wood quality fruit by thinning which is fairly simple to do.

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Firstly, gardeners need to know whether they have “cooker apples” or “dessert apples”.

Dessert apple trees want no more than two apples per cluster.

Each cluster needs to be 10 to 15 centimetres apart.

Cooking apples, which are generally bigger, need a single apple per cluster left on the tree.

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Those single apples need to be 15 to 20 centimetres apart.

Trees which are “overly laden” with apples need to be thinned to benefit this year’s crop and next year’s.

It also means gardeners can select which fruit will remain on the tree.

To thin an apple tree, don’t grab the apple and twist if off the tree.

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Doing this could result in the whole cluster coming off the tree which will leave gardeners with nothing.

Paul explained exactly how to thin apples on trees and what to look out for when thinning.

He said: “Hold the apple you’re removing and lift it upwards away from gravity and it should come off at the stork.

“No twisting and yanking. There’s a gentle lifting up of the fruit.

“We look out as we thin for anything that’s been damaged and what’s got signs of disease.

“This time of year that’s often sawfly. We might see a ribboning effect of the sawfly just under the skin or we might see the hole where the sawfly is buried into the apple.

“We want to make sure we don’t leave the damaged fruit on the trees.

“If we’re going to leave anything on the tree we want to leave the really good healthy-looking fruits.”

It’s also an opportunity to pick off any fruit that’s misshapen.

Gardeners also need to watch out for branches where there’s too much fruit as the branch could end up breaking.

Apple trees need fruit harvesting from July to October.

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