Apple trees dropping fruit

Q. Why do apple trees drop their fruit early? We have an old apple tree on our property that produces pocked, rotten apples. Is there way we can help the tree produce edible fruit?

A. Some fruit trees will naturally thin themselves by dropping excess fruit prematurely. Often, a period of stress (a long, hot summer with very little rain) will cause a tree to abort its fruit in order to conserve energy. Apple trees require deep watering during drought. Lack of pollination can result in pea-size fruit that falls off prematurely.

To encourage your fruit trees to yield the maximum amount of healthy fruit, they must be part of a regular spray program that includes dormant oil as well as insecticide and fungicide treatments. Whether you choose to use synthetic chemical products or the less toxic, more environmentally friendly ones, adherence to a strict schedule is important. The first treatment, applied in early March, consists of a dormant oil sprayed thoroughly over the tree’s trunk and branches. This petroleum-based product is applied before the tree begins active growth, but only if the temperature is 40 degrees with no danger of freezing or rain for the next 24 hours. Dormant oils are often used on other deciduous trees since they are quite effective in controlling overwintering insects and their eggs.

Can anything be done with cooking apples that fall early?

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Plant name(s): Fruit trees
Symptoms / Characteristics:
There are many reasons why a plant might shed its fruit prematurely. Don’t panic. Fruit drop may be natural, environmental or pest-related. Take careful observations and evaluate all possibilities. Use a process of elimination to determine the cause of the symptom and decide on an appropriate control measure.
In many cases, apple in particular, the plant undergoes certain growth phases in which natural fruit drop occurs. An early summer fruit drop commonly occurs in apple, pear and, less frequently, cherry. This is a result of the plant’s inability to support the vast number of fruit that it has produced. Profuse flowering and extensive pollination result in the overproduction of fruit, beyond what the plant can physiologically sustain. In an effort to conserve energy, the plant drops the fruit. Essentially, it is a natural thinning that results from the competition between fruits.
Premature fruit drop is often related to unfavourable environmental conditions, such as late frosts, excessive heat or cold, and abrupt changes in humidity. Symptoms may be soil related, resulting from irregular watering and improper nutrition. Nutrient deficiency is a common problem. Boron-deficient green peppers, for example, will even exhibit a certain amount of fruit drop. Although there are characteristic deficiency symptoms associated with each nutrient, plant expression may vary between species. Deficiency diagnosis is further complicated if more than one nutrient is deficient in the soil. In Manitoba, only nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur are of particular concern with respect to fruit production. Herbicide drift may also lead to premature fruit drop.
Pathological or pest-related fruit drop is more likely to occur late in the growing season when the fruit is nearing maturity. Common insects that cause premature fruit drop include apple maggot and plum curculio. Common diseases include apple scab and peach leaf curl. Insects and diseases tend to have more visually identifiable symptoms and are, therefore, easier to diagnose than environmental or physiological disorders.
Control / Preventions:
Thin fruit to reduce competition and encourage the plant to put more energy into producing fewer numbers of larger, higher quality fruit. The removal of fruit beyond what is lost during the early season drop may even be necessary. Some horticulturists even suggest thinning the blossoms, but flowers are typically an attractive feature for most homeowners. Avoid unfavourable environmental conditions that might cause a plant to drop its fruit. This involves effective water management and a balanced fertilizer program, according to individual plant specifications. Soil testing may be required in order to confirm nutrient deficiency/toxicity. Supplement with fertilizer where necessary. Avoid herbicide drift. Never apply herbicides in windy or dead calm conditions. Contrary to popular belief, dead calm conditions are often associated with a phenomenon known as temperature inversions. Spraying under such conditions can actually increase drift distance. If additional symptoms are observed on fruit, leaves or stems, proceed to identify the causal agent and administer appropriate control measures.
Relevant web sites:
Other references:
Jones, A.L. and Sutton, T.B. 1984. Diseases of Tree Fruits. Cooperative Extension Service, Michigan State University. 59 pages.
Manitoba Agriculture and Food Fruit Guide 2000 Edition. 262 pages.

Premature Fruit Drop

As new parents of a fruit tree, you most likely are excitedly looking forward to the first crop your tree produces. As spring time flourishes and you see your new fruit form, you start preparing for what you will do with that first delicious bite. And then out of nowhere (it seems!) you come out one morning to find that beloved first fruit on the ground, before it was ripe. So what has caused this? There are a variety of reasons and we list the top 5 for you to utilize as you troubleshoot to find a solution.

#1 Inadequate Pollination

Naturally, insufficiently pollinated young fruit will be shed. This can be caused by an inadequate presence of pollination helpers (like bees) during the bloom time of your trees. You may encourage a greater population of bees and other beneficials by companion-planting roses and other garden plants that will attract them and avoid using pest control sprays while your tree is blooming.

One additional persimmon issue bears mentioning: premature fruit drop. The reason persimmons fall from the tree before they ripen is the result of parthenocarpy, which a fascinating botanical phenomenon.

Parthenocarpy (a word that combines “parthenos,” meaning virgin, and “karpos” meaning fruit) is the production of fruit without fertilization. In certain persimmon varieties, parthenocarpically produced fruit is highly susceptible to dropping from the tree before it matures.

In general, what we call a fruit is actually a fully developed plant ovary. The ovary is a female flower part that grows in response to pollination and fertilization of the ovum or egg. Fertilization occurs after pollination — that is, after a male pollen grain from one flower is transferred to the female stigma of another flower — occurs.

A tube grows out from the male pollen grain into the female stigma and then continues to grow down through a filament called a style. At the base of the style, male genetic material from the pollen grain unites with female genetic material that is located there in the ovule (egg).

This mixing of male and female genetic material is known as fertilization, from which a seed is produced.

In most plants, hormone exuded by a developing seed stimulates growth of the ovary into a fruit. But in a few select plants — such as bananas, persimmons, figs, navel oranges, and Satsuma plums — fruits may grow without the benefit of seed formation. In the case of persimmons, although fruit can develop without seeds, larger crops will result and fruit will stay on the tree until ripe when pollination/fertilization and seed development occurs.

The most popular persimmon variety is ‘Fuyu,’ whose fruit often drops when it develops parthenocarpically.

#2 Overbearing

Trees that try to overbear, especially in their early fruit production years, may succumb to early fruit drop. Young trees are more prone to drop fruit, whereas older, established, developed trees tend to more regularly store and make use of their reserve food. This food is stored while a tree is dormant and is used in the production of fruiting buds that swell and bloom in the spring. If a tree has not developed a system to properly store reserve food, the fruit that forms will compete for nutrients to feed them.

If there is too much fruit forming, “survival of the fittest” kicks in, and the tree drops fruit. If the competition for nutrients is between the young fruit and the tree itself, your tree will sacrifice the lot so that it can live to fruit another year.

Some trees shed the newly formed fruit to protect their branches from the stress of the added weight. If the fruit is allowed to remain on the tree, and it grows to its full size, the branches will break or bend down to the ground, which could be an invitation for pests and disease. The outcome is much more detrimental than simply having the underdeveloped fruit be shed to the ground.

If a tree is allowed to sustain a vigorous crop load, and a drop doesn’t occur, one result may be that the tree that bears biennially. The tree will have a bumper crop one year, where it produces an abundance of fruit, and then it will take the next year off to recover. Fruit bearing is a stress on the tree, so it is not unusual that, during this recovery year, your tree will not have a fruit crop.

To avoid fruit drop as a result of overbearing, we recommend thinning the young fruit before the tree drops it. In general, it is best to leave 4-6 inches between each fruit and break up any clusters that may form. You may use small, sharp pruners to remove the fruit or simply pluck it off with your fingers.

If you pinch the blossoms off your tree before the petals drop and fruit begins to form, you will also be able to help avoid overbearing and fruit drop.

#3 Water

Early fruit drop can be a self-regulating tactic that a fruit tree employs when it does not have enough resources to ripen all of its fruit. By the same token, an unsatisfactory watering regime, whether the tree is getting too little or too much water, may be implicated in early fruit drop. For this reason, mulching is recommended, a practice that lengthens irrigation intervals while keeping soil moisture at a constant level.

#4 Weather

Freezes, wind and hail can cause fruit drop as well as other types of damage to trees and their fruit. If you expect a frost or freezing temperatures in your area during the growing season, you can cover your tree with sheets and even wrap holiday lights around it for extra insulation and warmth. Supporting your young tree with tree stakes can help prevent damage to the tree during windstorms. The best thing you can do for your tree is keep it in good health —that way, even if the weather takes some fruit, your healthy tree will stick around to keep producing for you in years to come.

Of course you may find that these general troubleshooting reasons do not apply to your situation and tree. The best next course of action would be to contact your local Agriculture Extension agent to test the soil. It is generally a free service and is vital in helping to diagnose what might be troubling your fruit tree.

Lemons Falling From Tree: How To Fix Premature Fruit Drop On A Lemon Tree

Although some fruit drop is normal and not a cause for concern, you can help prevent excessive drop by providing the best possible care for your lemon tree. If you’re worried by a lemon tree dropping fruit and currently have lemons fall from tree, continue reading to learn more about what causes fruit drop in lemons and prevent lemon tree fruit drop.

What Causes Fruit Drop in Lemons?

Generally, you may see lemons falling from tree if the tree sets more fruit than it can support. A lemon tree normally goes through three periods of fruit drop. The first drop occurs when 70 to 80 percent of the flowers fall from the tree without ever setting fruit. A week or so later, pea-sized fruit drop from the tree. The third drop occurs in spring when the fruit is about the size of a golf ball. Unless premature fruit drop is excessive, however, these drops are not a cause for concern.

In many cases, lemon tree fruit drop is due to environmental factors that you can’t control. Sudden changes in temperature and heavy rains can often cause premature fruit drop.

Preventing Lemon Tree Fruit Drop

Occasionally, a lemon tree dropping fruit can be prevented, as dropping fruit can also result from improper watering or fertilization, excessive pruning and insect infestations.

Water lemon trees when you have had less than 1 ½ inches of rain in a week. Apply water to the soil around a lemon tree slowly, allowing it to sink into the soil. Stop when the water begins to run off. If you have heavy clay soil, wait about 20 minutes and water again (or amend the soil to improve drainage). Too much water leaches the nutrients out of the soil, and not enough stresses the tree.

Citrus trees need a good balance of nitrogen and other macronutrients as well as a variety of micronutrients. You can provide the tree with everything it needs by using a citrus special fertilizer. For best results, follow the label instructions.

Whiteflies, aphids, scales and mites sometimes infest lemon trees. These insects seldom cause serious damage, but they may cause premature fruit drop and blemish the fruit. Use narrow-range horticultural oils in late winter and early spring when the insects are in the larval or “crawler” phase of their lifecycle. For small trees, a strong blast of water from a hose will knock some of the insects from the tree, and insecticidal soaps or neem oil sprays are somewhat effective in controlling adult insects.

Allow lemon trees to grow naturally without pruning as much as possible. Remove dead, damaged or diseased limbs as needed, but if you need to control the size of the tree, do so with the fewest possible cuts.

June Plum/Golden Apple Tree


Common name: June Plum, Dwarf Ambarella, Golden Apple, Otaheite-apple
Botanical name: Spondias dulcis
Family: Anacardaceae
Avg Height X Width: 8′ x 6′
Origin: South Pacific
Season: fall and winter
Damage temp: 28 F

June Plum/Golden Apple Tree in a 3 Gallon Container. Native to South-east Asia and found in Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador and parts of Central America. The dwarf ambarella is a fast growing plant that will produce fruit in less than one year, and at a height of only two feet. They are often eaten fresh, made into drinks and jellies that taste something like apple butter. They have a single sharp, rather large, spiny seed. They also fruit year round so one tree will provide more than enough fruit for a family. Can be container Grown.

Origin and Distribution
Pests and Diseases
Food Uses
Food Value
Other Uses
Medicinal Uses

An under-appreciated member of the Anacardiaceae, but deserving of improvement, is the ambarella, Spondias dulcis Forst. (syn. S. cytherea Sonn.). Among various colloquial names are Otaheite apple, Tahitian quince, Polynesian plum, Jew plum and golden apple. In Malaya it is called great hog plum or kedondong; in Indonesia, kedongdong; in Thailand, ma-kok-farang; in Cambodia, mokak; in Vietnam, coc, pomme cythere or Pommier de cythere. In Costa Rica, it is known as juplón; in Colombia, hobo de racimos; in Venezuela, jobo de la India, jobo de Indio, or mango jobo; in Ecuador, manzana de oro; in Brazil, caja-manga.
The tree is rapid-growing, attaining a height of 60 ft (18 m) in its homeland; generally not more than 30 or 40 ft (9-12 m) in other areas. Upright and rather rigid and symmetrical, it is a stately ornamental with deciduous, handsome, pinnate leaves, 8 to 24 in (20-60 cm) in length, composed of 9 to 25 glossy, elliptic or obovate-oblong leaflets 2 1/2 to 4 in (6.25-10 cm) long, finely toothed toward the apex. At the beginning of the dry, cool season, the leaves turn bright-yellow and fall, but the tree with its nearly smooth, light gray-brown bark and graceful, rounded branches is not unattractive during the few weeks that it remains bare. Small, inconspicuous, whitish flowers are borne in large terminal panicles. They are assorted, male, female and perfect in each cluster. Long-stalked fruits dangle in bunches of a dozen or more; oval or somewhat irregular or knobby, and 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 in (6.25-9 cm) long, with thin but tough skin, often russetted. While still green and hard, the fruits fall to the ground, a few at a time, over a period of several weeks. As they ripen, the skin and flesh turn golden-yellow. While the fruit is still firm, the flesh is crisp, juicy and subacid, and has a somewhat pineapple-like fragrance and flavor. If allowed to soften, the aroma and flavor become musky and the flesh difficult to slice because of conspicuous and tough fibers extending from the rough ridges of the 5-celled, woody core containing 1 to 5 flat seeds. Some fruits in the South Sea Islands weigh over 1 lb (0.45 kg) each.
Origin and Distribution
The ambarella is native from Melanesia through Polynesia and has been introduced into tropical areas of both the Old and New World. It is common in Malayan gardens and fairly frequent in India and Ceylon. The fruits are sold in markets in Vietnam and elsewhere in former Indochina. It first fruited in the Philippines in 1915. It is cultivated in Queensland, Australia, and grown on a small scale in Gabon and Zanzibar. It was introduced into Jamaica in 1782 and again 10 years later by Captain Bligh, probably from Hawaii where it has been grown for many years. It is cultivated in Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and from Puerto Rico to Trinidad; also in Central America, Venezuela, and Surinam; is rare in Brazil and other parts of tropical America. Popenoe said there were only a few trees in the Province of Guayas, Ecuador, in 1924. The United States Department of Agriculture received seeds from Liberia in 1909, though Wester reported at that time that the tree had already been fruiting for 4 years in Miami, Florida. In 1911, additional seeds reached Washington from Queensland, Australia. A number of specimens are scattered around the tip of Florida, from Palm Beach southward, but the tree has never become common here. Some that were planted in the past have disappeared.
The tree flourishes in humid tropical and subtropical areas, being only a trifle tenderer than its close relative, the mango. It succeeds up to an altitude of 2,300 ft (700 m). In Israel, the tree does not thrive, remaining small and bearing only a few, inferior fruits.
The ambarella grows on all types of soil, including oolitic limestone in Florida, as long as they are well-drained.
The tree is easily propagated by seeds, which germinate in about 4 weeks, or by large hardwood cuttings, or air-layers. It can be grafted on its own rootstock, but Firminger says that in India it is usually grafted on the native S. pinnata Kurz (see below). Wester advised: “Use non-petioled, slender, mature, but green and smooth budwood; cut large buds with ample wood-shield, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 in (4-4.5 cm) long; insert the buds in the stock at a point of approximately the same age and appearance as the scion.”
Seedlings may fruit when only 4 years old. Ochse recommends that the young trees be given light shade. Mature trees are somewhat brittle and apt to be damaged by strong winds; therefore, sheltered locations are preferred.
In Hawaii, the fruit ripens from November to April; in Tahiti, from May to July. In Florida, a single tree provides a steady supply for a family from fall to midwinter, at a time when mangos and many other popular fruits are out of season.
Pests and Diseases
Ochse says that in Indonesia the leaves are severely attacked by the larvae of the kedongdong spring-beetle, Podontia affinis. In Costa Rica, the bark is eaten by a wasp (“Congo”), causing necrosis which leads to death. No particular insects or diseases have been reported in Florida. In Jamaica, the tree is subject to gummosis and is consequently short-lived.
Food Uses
The ambarella has suffered by comparison with the mango and by repetition in literature of its inferior quality. However, taken at the proper stage, while still firm, it is relished by many out-of-hand, and it yields a delicious juice for cold beverages. If the crisp sliced flesh is stewed with a little water and sugar and then strained through a wire sieve, it makes a most acceptable product, much like traditional applesauce but with a richer flavor. With the addition of cinnamon or any other spices desired, this sauce can be slowly cooked down to a thick consistency to make a preserve very similar to apple butter. Unripe fruits can be made into jelly, pickles or relishes, or used for flavoring sauces, soups and stews. Young ambarella leaves are appealingly acid and consumed raw in southeast Asia. In Indonesia, they are steamed and eaten as a vegetable with salted fish and rice, and also used as seasoning for various dishes. They are sometimes cooked with meat to tenderize it.
Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Portion (Flesh)*
Calories 157.30
Total Solids 14.53-40-35%
Moisture 59.65-85.47%
Protein 0.50-0.80%
Fat 0.28-1.79%
Sugar (sucrose) 8.05-10-54%
Acid 0.47%
Crude Fiber 0.85-3-60%
Ash 0.44-0.65%
*According to analyses made in the Philippines and Hawaii.
I Miller, Louis and Yanazawa in Hawaii reported an ascorbic acid content of 42 mg per 100 g of raw pulp. It is a good source of iron. Unripe fruits contain 9.76% of pectin.
Other Uses
Wood: The wood is light-brown and buoyant and in the Society Islands has been used for canoes.
In Cambodia, the astringent bark is used with various species of Terminalia as a remedy for diarrhea.


CAROLINA RED JUNE originated in North Carolina and was described in 1848, but was included on nursery lists published in colonial newspapers. Small to medium in size, the skin is glossy, pale-yellow, and overspread with a deep purplish-red on the sun-exposed side. Occasionally, the fruit is entirely red. The white flesh is tender, brisk and juicy, with a subacid flavor, and is sometimes stained red. Thinning is necessary to promote annual bearing, but the “June drop” does not affect the fruit, and therefore, attention should be given to the fruit set. The tree grows very upright and becomes bushy, with slender branches and twigs on which the fruit is borne in clusters. Occasionally, the tree will bloom twice and bear a second light crop of apples in the fall. If the fruit is left too long on the tree, it may watercore when the springs are hot and humid. Since the ripening period is over a number of weeks, this variety is particularly suitable for the home orchard. In culinary use, it is exceptional for pie making. Ripens in late June and early July.

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