After a warm, dry spring and almost a hundred percent pollination I guess it was almost inevitable June's apple cull would be brutal. This 'June Drop' is nature's way of ensuring the tree can support its crop of apples.
Many of the fruiting spurs have five or more apples - eight in quite a few instances - which isn't sustainable. As you can see in the photo above there simply isn't enough room for all of the apples to grow to maturity, so some of them must go. Quite often there are some slow developers like the one you can just see in the middle and these are usually amongst the first to drop, followed by any damaged and deformed fruit. I've already seen some early signs codling moth have come a-calling judging by some of the frass they've left behind. There are some signs of bird damage too: two months of dry weather has left the ground rather hard and I suspect there's been slim pickings for feeding a growing family, so the birds have turned their attention to my developing fruit instead.
Already the apples are looking better spaced on my 'Red Windsor' apple tree and I probably won't have to pick off many more apples once nature has taken its course. It might be a different story for my 'Herefordshire Russet'. It looks like I'm going to have the best crop in years*, and the tree is hanging onto its bounty. As soon as the month is out I'll have a closer look and complete the thinning as necessary.
This tree gave me another cause for concern. Many of the leaves at the ends of each branch had signs of mildew as shown above. This means it's stressed, probably due to the lack of water during April and May. I've pruned it out and then gave the tree a couple of long drinks of water at its roots**. We also had three inches of rain last week and it's now looking much happier.
I'll keep a special eye on this tree over the coming months. Now it's cropping well, I don't want it to become a biennial bearer. I've also made a mental note to contact a tree surgeon as both trees need a good trim and straightening. Previously they were shaded on one side and now that's gone, they're leaning over too much for my liking. It's a job I don't trust myself to do well, so it's best to call in the professionals. My neighbour's magnolia is doing well after some remedial pruning earlier this year, so I already have a good recommendation.
Which garden jobs do you prefer to be done by someone else?
*= a good feed last year plus the removal of the Leylandii hedge behind it has probably helped.
** = I don't usually water the main parts of the garden - only the pots - but apple trees are precious.