Thinning and summer pruning fruit trees
Fruit trees are laden at this time of the year. If they have too much fruit then the quality of that fruit may not be as good as hoped. July is a good time to thin out overladen trees. Thinning will improve overall fruit size and quality. It will allow sunlight onto fruit to aid ripening and will help maintain good airflow through the tree.
Some fruit will drop naturally during late spring. This is the tree doing its own thinning and is not a problem. Many trees will also benefit from further thinning, and mid july is the ideal time to do this. Carefully twist unwanted fruit from the tree, or use sharp secatuers. Remove blemished or damaged fruit, keeping the strongest fruit.
Apple trees should be thinned to one fruit every 15 - 20 cms, Pears 10 - 15 cms, Peaches and Nectaries every 10cms and Apricots 5 - 8cms as a general guide.
Should your tree still be laden it may be that some branches need propping up with a stake and tie. This will stop the branch from breaking under the weight of the fruit and will stop fruit lying on the ground.
Plum trees will benefit from a mid summer prune. Done at this time, the risk of infection is lower. Remove old or dead wood, remove any brances crossing and aim to open the tree up to the breeze. Gently rub off any buds or shoots on the lower trunk where they are not wanted.
Apple and pear trees should not generally be pruned at this time of year - they benefit from winter pruning. The only varieties that may require light pruning would be restricited varieties i.e. those that are cordoned or espalier varieties. Lightly prune to allow sunlight onto ripening fruit.
Enjoy your fruit harvest!