How to Thin Fruit Trees

How to Thin Fruit Trees

How to Thin Fruit Trees


    – Why Thin Fruit Trees?

    – Step 1: Choose the right time to thin fruit trees

    – Step 2: Thin only if necessary

    – Step 3: Thin fruit trees

Thinning fruit trees is an ancestral technique that removes fruits considered too many to obtain a better quality harvest and not exhaust the tree. Apple and pear trees are the trees that need to be thinned the most, according to a specific technique. Here is why, when and how to thin fruit trees. 

Why thin fruit trees?

Thinning fruit trees consists of removing fruits that are considered too many when they are still young.

For the neophyte who would like to harvest as much fruit as possible, it is a practice that may seem strange. However, its advantages are recognized:

    – The preserved fruits will be bigger, more regular, and tastier.

    – More aerated, not touching each other, they will be healthier and less contaminated by diseases.

    – The harvests will be more regular from one year to the next, avoiding the “alternation” phenomenon: a year of large harvests followed by a year of small harvests.

    – The branches will not break under too much weight.

    – Finally, newly planted trees will not wear themselves out, producing too much fruit in the first few years.

1. Choose the right time to thin fruit trees

First, wait for the physiological drop of excess fruit, which naturally occurs in May or June, depending on the fruit tree and the climate.

Remove as a priority the fruits that are poorly formed, diseased or too small. Then thin your fruit trees in 1 or 2 steps:

    – Thin anyway in June, when the fruits are 10 to 15 mm long. 

    – If necessary, thin heavily loaded trees a second time when the fruits measure 20 to 30 mm.

2. Thin only if necessary

How to Thin Fruit Trees

First, espaliered fruit trees and low-stemmed trees are used for practical reasons.

On the other hand, not all fruit trees need to be thinned:

    – Thin apple and pear trees first.

    – Also thin quince, peach and apricot trees.

    – Do not thin plum or cherry trees.

Note: if you want to bag your fruits, it is imperative to thin them first.

3. Thin fruit trees


In agriculture, the thinning of fruit trees has recently been mechanized. However, thinning remains manual in the orchard, with a precise technique for each tree.

The general technique

    – Remove excess fruit by cutting off the stalk with clean secateurs.

    – Start by removing all poorly formed, diseased or undersized fruit, but if necessary, do not hesitate to remove healthy, well-formed fruit as well, even if it breaks your heart!

Specific techniques according to the trees

How to Thin Fruit Trees

    – Apple tree: thin out all the peripheral fruits to leave only the central fruit, one per cluster.

    – Pear tree: you can leave one or two pears per cluster as long as they do not touch each other. Unlike the apple tree, the peripheral fruits are kept, while the small central pears are thinned out.

    – Cognac, peach and apricot trees: remove most of the fruit and keep a maximum of 8 to 15 per branch.

Equipment needed to thin fruit trees

How to Thin Fruit Trees

You will need only pruning shears.

Hope this post on how to thin fruit trees has been informative. Remember to share your experience in the comments below. Further, do not hesitate to jot down your request if you want to read about something more specific, as we promise to get back to you quickly with as much relevant information as possible.


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