June Drop

Hundreds of teeny tiny apples

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.

Lots of apples on one fruiting spur

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.

Well spaced apples on the Red Windsor tree

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.

Mildew is a sign the tree is stressed

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.


  1. I’m trying to psyche myself into thinning apples this year

    1. Yes, it's a tough call when you see lots of lovely fruit Sue, but I've learned the hard lesson that if you don't you get tiny fruit this year and possibly none next :(

  2. Herefordshire Russett is a lovely variety, isn't it? Very tasty indeed. I think it's shaping up to be such a good year for top-fruit this year partly because last year was so poor, with a dull, wet May and June not helping with pollination.

    1. It was our favourite when we tasted many varieties at an apple day a few years ago. The Red Windsor is gorgeous too. I miss the other varieties I had on my allotment too.

  3. I never knew about the June drop - I shall use that sometime! But I have found a semi - abandoned walled garden in some woods near us that is pregnant with feral currant bushes - black, red and white - gooseberries too though most have gone, and oh, the cheery trees. Returning soon with lots of tupperware!!!

    1. Ohhhhhhh, a walled garden, I'm jealous! Judging by the pips on the paths on our daily walks, it's a good year for cherries. Get in there quick with that tupperware before the birds get them!


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