After watching your fruit trees flower out spectacularly in the spring and then seeing the tiny fruits beginning to form, it is devastating to see them starting to fall from the tree before they mature. Don’t panic, this is normal for fruit trees. It even has a name; June Drop.
June fruit drop refers to the natural tendency of fruit trees to shed some of their immature fruits. Fruit trees often set more flowers than they need for a full crop, to offset sudden losses from weather or other cultural factors.
According to Purdue University Consumer Horticulture, “Only one bloom in 20 is needed for a good crop on a full-blossoming apple tree.”
What Causes June Fruit Drop?
Fruit trees set fruit so that they can produce seed. Too large a crop will strain the tree’s resources and result in smaller fruits, possibly of lesser quality. So the tree protects itself and its seed by thinning the crop, once it senses weather and growing conditions are stable. The immature fruits are all competing for the same food and water. The strongest survive. Fruits that contain few seeds are the first to drop.
Fruit trees may actually start this thinning process earlier in the season by shedding some flowers that weren’t pollinated. You might not notice this because you expect the flowers to drop. But when you see actual fruits starting to fall, it becomes more alarming.
Is There Anything You Can Do to Lessen June Fruit Drop
You can make sure your fruit trees get plenty of water and also that they’re not sitting in wet soil.
But preventing June fruit drop is not a good thing. The tree and its fruit will grow best if the immature fruit is thinned slightly. Some fruit trees don’t naturally thin themselves enough and need some help from us. Fruits that don’t have a lot of seeds, like stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines), figs and persimmons usually need hand thinning.
Oddly, cherry trees seem to be able to hang onto all their fruit without any problems.
Accepting June Fruit Drop
Bottom line is that June fruit drop is not just normal, it’s actually good for the tree. It’s helping you too. You’ll not only get larger fruits, but the branches of your fruit trees won’t be so heavy they need propping up.
By the way, it’s called June fruit drop, but it takes place a month or two earlier in southern states.
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