Thinning is a process whereby young apples are removed from the tree to allow the remaining ones to grow to a size requested by customers. Many of the apples grown don’t fit into the very tight size requirements of supermarkets (and presumably their customers) and so are wasted. This is one way of minimising this waste.
The buds which exist on the trees during pruning, begin to form leaves and flowers in Spring. Each fruit bud (generally the fat buds in the cuttings below), will produce several flowers, which in turn, if pollinated, will produce an apple.
In the above photo you can see the clusters of flowers developing – each cluster from just one bud. Then each pollinated flower grows into an apple.
This cluster of 6 young apples will be thinned down to just one, as will each cluster on every tree. This can be done chemically in conventional orchards, but in ours it is done manually. Ideally, it is completed within 6 weeks of flowering, however, it does take a little longer in reality. Finally, when we have only one left, they grow to their full potential, allowing the production of beautiful apple cakes such as the one below which I created this weekend.