The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

June apple drop

June drop apples

We've never had an apple tree that set as many fruit in as small a space as our high-density Early Transparent. So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that this is also the first time we've experienced June drop.

What's June drop? Fruit trees naturally shed tiny fruitlets soon after blooming, but the trees sometimes have a second round of self-thinning about eight weeks later as well. This so-called June drop can be natural, or it can be due to mismanagement. In our case, I think the cause is a little bit of both.

June drop

What did I do wrong? The tree in question is located just out of range of our sprinklers, so lack of water may have been a contributing factor.

Similarly, I didn't fertilize this row at all last year because I didn't want to waste any of my limited compost on trees whose flowers kept freezing rather than setting fruit. Lack of nitrogen, like lack of water, can spur June drop.

Finally, I summer pruned the tree pretty hard at the beginning of this month, and the resultant paucity of leaves might have made the tree feel like it couldn't handle as many fruit as it had originally chosen to keep.

Enterprise apple

I'll mitigate some of those practices in later years. But, for now, I'm nibbling on the June drops, which actually taste pretty good if you're a sour-fruit lover.

Meanwhile, I'm watching the neighboring tree, which is holding onto its fruits and swelling them up even faster than the Transparent is. So perhaps the latter just had too many fruits to handle after all and I shouldn't be terribly concerned about June drop.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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