Thursday, May 15, 2008

Peaches and Apples

Peach and apple growers in Missouri should now thin fruit from their trees to produce a good crop this year and get the trees back to a regular bearing cycle.

Last year's late-spring freeze destroyed both crops, resulting in an overabundance of developing fruit on trees this spring.

"Oftentimes when you have no crop one year, it sets you up in an alternate bearing cycle, especially on apples," said Michelle Warmund, University of Missouri tree fruit specialist.

Peach producers should thin off about 90 percent of the fruit in May to harvest a good crop this summer, she said. Not thinning enough results in small fruit with lower sugar levels.

Overabundant fruit on trees can also lead to limbs breaking from bearing too much weight.

When thinning peaches, leave one fruit every 8 inches. Thinning should be done before the peaches or apples reach the size of a dime.

Some peaches are fusing together like Siamese twins. This is a result of cold temperatures during pollination this spring. Such fruit is unsalable and should be thinned.

This year has had the coolest spring since 1998, according to Pat Guinan, MU climatologist.

Some growers thin by striking the peach trees with rubber hoses, but this can result in a loss of leaves.

Apples usually grow five fruits in a cluster. Thin clusters to a single fruit to increase fruit size, boost the amount of sugar in each fruit and improve pest control, Warmund said.

"When you have five fruits hanging together, moisture collects between the fruits, making a good environment for disease," she said.

"If you have a tree with 500 apples on it, you have 500 small apples. All the sugars must be distributed among 500 fruits. If you thin down to 100, you get a much bigger fruit size," she said.

"The earlier you do it, the bigger fruit size you will have at the end of the season," she said.

Source: Michelle Warmund, 573-882-9632

No comments: