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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Baby Fruit Trees: Pull Off or Leave the Fruit On?

Q. Help! I planted my bareroot Pink Lady last February 4th and now it's flowering! I'm happy to see the blossoms; they're pretty and smell good. This is the first time I planted an apple tree, now I don't know what to do next. Should I just let it blossom and fruit?

Pink Lady apple from the North Las Vegas Orchard
A. Just be calm and take a deep breath. It is okay for your tree to flower. If you go back to some of the old textbooks on fruit trees it may tell you that some trees take six to eight years to bear fruit. Well there is some truth to that but with newer varieties bred for precociousness (early production) and budded on to dwarfing rootstocks it is not unusual to have fruit trees begin to bear fruit after only a year or two in the ground. The question then becomes is it wise to leave the fruit on the tree or remove it?

            Some very good gardeners are of the opinion that all fruit should be removed so that the energy of the tree goes into tree growth rather than split between tree growth and fruit production. Others say to let the tree go ahead and produce some fruit but remove most of it for the same reason.

            I am of the latter. If you have some fruit being produced then enjoy a few the first year, a few more the second until you maximize its production for its size. As it increases in size it can be allowed to carry more fruit.

            Remember to whitewash the tree to help prevent sunburn. Cover all the branches and the trunk with diluted white latex paint. This is a mixture, 1/1, with water and make sure you cover the west and south sides of the trunk and tops of the branches.

            Let it flower. Thin the fruit to one apple per cluster as soon as the fruit forms. Keep mulch at least 6 inches away from the trunk the first few years. Remove the stake this fall. That’s about it. I hope you get a couple of fruit this year.


  1. What are the most effective pollinators for a pink lady apple that thrive in the Las Vegas area?

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  3. Some people get pollinators and pollenizers mixed up.If you mean which insects are good pollinators for Pink Lady Apple then our local honey bees and the leafcutter bees will do just fine.There are a lot of things in bloom when apples are in bloom so you shouldn't have any problems. If you mean which Apple trees will serve as a source of pollen for Pink Lady Apple then you will not have to worry there either. They are for the most part self pollinating in our climate of southern Nevada.

  4. Thank you! Wonderful information, and my husband and I are excited now to try growing a Pink Lady in our own yard.