Premature Fruit Drop: Why Is Fruit Dropping Off My Tree?
In early summer, especially in June, you may notice premature fruits dropping from your fruit tree. This can be unsettling. Especially when you are looking forward to using your harvests in homegrown fruit crumbles and jams!
But don’t panic - it does not necessarily mean that the promise of a great fruit harvest (and crumble) is lost. Sometimes a premature fruit drop supports the health of your tree and the quality of its fruit. To understand this, it is useful to learn why the fruits may be falling from your tree in what is commonly known as the ‘June Drop’.
Immature fruit trees
If you’ve recently purchased your fruit tree, definitely don’t panic! Less established fruit trees are more vulnerable to fruit drop, than mature trees. In a nutshell the growing fruit competes for energy with the rest of the growing tree. If it can’t win, then the fruit will be shed.
It’s a good idea to take note of the age of your fruit tree when you buy, so that you can easily keep track of when to expect a good harvest. Our fruit trees are usually between 18-36 months old at the time of dispatch. But, fruit trees may not provide a good harvest until they are into their fourth or even fifth year. So you may have to be a little bit more patient for those homegrown fruit crumbles…
Although your fruit tree may have lots of beautiful blossoms in early spring, if these are not pollinated properly, the resulting fruits may drop. Another reason why pollinators are a gardener’s best friend. If the spring was particularly chilly, there may have been fewer pollinators buzzing around your trees.
Unfortunately, this is out of your control. But you can try to entice pollinators that are out and about by companion planting your fruit tree with open spring flowers like daffodils. Or perhaps you could build a bug motel to encourage solitary bees to build a home in your garden. A win-win for you and the pollinators!
Who would’ve thought too much fruit could be a bad thing? Your tree might be dropping premature fruit because it produced too many, meaning it is ‘overbearing’ fruit. If your tree does not have enough energy to grow all these fruits, it may drop them. This is normal, again especially for young trees. Overbearing can damage your tree by weighing down the branches, and even breaking them. Not a good look…
Dropping premature fruit also provides the remaining fruit with room to grow bigger and better. You can actually remove fruits yourself for these benefits, in a process called thinning. Our expert fruit tree grower, John, recommends thinning apples and other fruit trees in this easy how-to guide. But, according to the RHS, if your tree is already dropping fruit, it is best to wait until the dropping stops before deciding to thin. You can remove fruits later but you can’t put them back on!
Pests and diseases
I know, this sounds a bit more scary. Although rarer, it is possible certain fruit tree pests and diseases can cause premature fruit drop. Not to worry though - most issues can be prevented or fixed as explained in this handy guide. If the fruit falling from your tree appears unsightly, it may be worth skimming through to see if you can identify your issue.