Fruit Tree Care: How to Thin Your Fruit Trees

Proactive fruit tree care can benefit all your trees, keeping them healthy, strong and productive for many years to come.

Fruit Tree Care: How to Thin Your Fruit Trees

Thinning, (removing some of the fruits before they have a chance to mature) might seem counterintuitive. But in the long run, the practice provides many significant benefits. Thinning helps prevent limb damage from a heavy load, discourages early fruit drop and improves the quality of the harvest.

The quantity of young fruits you need to remove varies depending on the type of trees you have.


Break up fruit clusters so that one choice apple remains. Usually the best one to keep is the middle bloom in the cluster, as that has the best chance to develop into a large, healthy apple. As you’re thinning each branch, try to leave about 6 to 8 inches between the remaining apples.


Apricot trees are thinned by breaking up the clusters and leaving one healthy apricot in each one. For a bountiful harvest, try to leave the remaining apricots about 6 inches apart.


Cherry trees don’t typically require thinning, but this practice can help a stressed tree or one affected by early fruit drop. In either case, thin crowded clusters and leave no more than 10 cherries on each spur.


When thinning peach trees, remove enough young peaches to leave just one every 8 inches. Branches that carry more peaches than that are at risk for breaking due to the fruit’s heavy weight.


Unless a pear tree has a history of early drop or bearing fruits biennially, thinning isn’t usually necessary. When thinning is recommended, all but one pear should be removed from each cluster. Leave 4 to 6 inches between the remaining pears for best results.


A plum tree can bear many fruits on each shoot, making thinning particularly beneficial. Once the plums are large enough to be picked, thin out the clusters, making sure the remaining plums are about 4 to 6 inches apart.

Utah Arborist Tips for Thinning Fruit Trees

To thin your trees, all you need is your hands or a pair of sharp pruners — and a ladder if you can’t reach all the tree limbs bearing fruit.

Generally, you should thin a tree in the early stages of fruit development, before its fruits reach an inch in diameter. In northern Utah, arborists recommend thinning before the end of July.

Do you have questions about thinning, pruning or otherwise caring for your trees? If you live in northern Utah, Reliable Tree Care can offer expert advice on these practices as well as disease and pest management. Our expert arborist team can also handle these tasks for you. Contact our Murray, Utah, location today for help with your Utah fruit tree care.