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June 1, 2015

Fruit Drop

With all the rain and wind we've had this past month, our fruit trees have lost a lot of their immature fruit.

Immature plums

I've found mounds of little green plums on the ground under the trees. Even though I know this is normal in late spring, it always makes me sad. Any immature fruit on the ground means less juicy fruit on the tree at harvest time.

Fruit drop is a natural occurrence, often occurring in June. Some trees form such a heavy crop that if every fruit matured, the branches would be so heavily laden they could droop all the way to the ground and even break. I remember my father propping up the branches on his dwarf plum and nectarine trees because they drooped so low. This year the lower branches of several of our plum trees are also hanging nearly to the ground.

To avoid fruit drop, Stark Bros. Nursery recommends thinning the young fruit:
"It is best to leave 4-6 inches between each fruit and break up any clusters that may form. You may use small, sharp pruners to remove the fruit or simply pluck it off with your fingers. If you pinch the blossoms off your tree before the petals drop and fruit begins to form, you will also be able to help avoid overbearing and fruit drop."
I'd have a hard time removing flowers - how would I know which ones to remove?

Other factors can also cause fruit drop, such as insufficient pollination due to too few pollinators (another reason we want to encourage bees) or too much distance between pollinating varieties, as well as diseases and pests, and of course weather such as wind and hail.

The three varieties of plums that I have are supposed to be good pollinators for each other, and the native sand plums bloom at the same time as well.

Our "Bluebird" plum tree finally has a few fruit on it for the very first time this year. It bloomed prolifically this spring and I expected more plums on it, but I will be thankful for the ones that we do get. Blue plums were my mother's favorite and I will think of her with every one I eat.

Do you have fruit trees? What kinds?

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. Here the wind was so strong it blow all our fruit and new blooms off the fruit trees. My poor apple tree does have two apple, but that's it. The peach, pear, cheery, and plum trees lost every thing. The wind hit everyone here. It doesn't look like anyone one around here will be getting fruit this year. Luckily the garden is doing great.

  2. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead10:01 PM

    I'm so sorry, Michelle, what a blow! I'm thankful that your garden is doing well, at least.

  3. Your trees look great! So much wonderful fruit... we are hoping to get our peaches to a better size/flavor this year... have taken more fruit off since we get so many little ones normally... big problem is that we have too little sun. Each year we seem to do a little more that is right though. :)

  4. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead2:16 PM

    That's what counts, Joy, that you learn a little more each time and each year you do better!

  5. There is so much to know. We have a lemon tree and 2 avocado trees. Our neighbor gifted us with a banana tree. Whoever buys our home will be well-fed. You have a lot of yummy things to look forward to!

  6. Daisy, how wonderful to have lemons, avocados and bananas growing in your backyard. Those wouldn't survive here, but I sure wish they could.

  7. We have apples, pears and peaches. I just went through and thinned the pear trees.

  8. It sounds like you're ahead of the game, Sandra. Good for you for thinning the fruit. I'd love to have pears and peaches too.

  9. as these days weather is not perfect of Fruits and our Fruit Tree. SMK Petro offering Apple Tree Spray Oil you can buy it and can Save your Trees

    SMK Petrochemical India Pvt. Ltd

  10. Thank you, I'll look into that.

  11. Thank you for sharing this helpful information with us at Good Morning Mondays. We have a couple of apple trees, a pear and some plums. It is wonderful to harvest your own fruit. Thanks and blessings

  12. I didn't know this was a thing, but it totally makes sense. My mom had some fruit trees at her old house (mainly lemon) and they experienced it all the time, but I guess not being experienced gardeners meant that we didn't even know it was an issue.

  13. I didn't know it was normal until last year either. Before that I was always concerned at how much fell off the tree before maturing. Now I know it's supposed to do that. (Or that I could thin it myself, but I'm afraid I wouldn't do it right, would cull the wrong ones or too many.)

    Enjoy those lemon trees!

  14. I don't hold much hope for our apples, cherries, pears and plums this year. It was cold and wet almost the entire time they were blooming and I didn't hear many bees. I'll keep watching and not lose all hope, but it doesn't look good.

  15. I'm sorry to hear that, Robin. Some years are just challenging, aren't they? I hope you'll have at least some fruit, and that next year will be better.

  16. Pinned to my gardening board on Pinterest. Your garden looks lovely - although I'm sorry you have been having issues with Fruit Fall. Thank you for sharing this post with us at the Hearth and Soul hop.

  17. Thank you for stopping by, April, and for pinning the post!

  18. Those plums look great! I bet you can't wait till they're ripe! We have a few apple trees but I never really get much from them...not sure why. They were here when we bought the place, I would have planted pears! We also have an abandoned orchard that the vines took over. I managed to save 1 apple tree about 5 years back but it hasn't bloomed since. I guess it was too stressed before I came along. It's growing a bit each year though.

    Thanks for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday. I hope to see you back this week!


  19. Lisa, it's sad that your abandoned orchard isn't producing anymore, but a tree is a tree, providing shade and oxygen and beauty. Maybe pruning and fertilizing would help?


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