For apple growers in Massachusetts and across the country, thinning the crop each year is a labor-intensive practice that must be done to ensure that trees bear fruit each year.
For apple growers in Massachusetts and across the country, thinning the crop each year is a labor-intensive practice that must be done to ensure that trees bear fruit each year, that there are not too few or too many fruits, and that mature apples are a good size for market, says Dan Cooley at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Stockbridge School of Agriculture and the School of Earth and Sustainability.
He adds, “It’s one of those jobs that is hard to get right. If you don’t thin fruit you’d get a lot of really small apples one year, and no fruit the next,” the professor of plant pathology explains. “It’s a balancing act that’s hard to get right. It depends on weather, the kind of trees you have, how healthy the trees are, and what you use to do the thinning. There’s a lot of uncertainty.”
“This is one of the steps in what is known in the industry as crop load management. It’s an ongoing lifetime-of-the-tree practice that must be done.” Some growers use chemicals to thin and some chemicals are worse for the environment than others, Cooley says, and using the right chemical at the right time is as much art as science, and is not clear-cut.
Continue reading at University of Massachusetts - Amherst.
Image via University of Massachusetts - Amherst.