Reducing the number of unripe fruit on a tree is called thinning, and it is beneficial for several reasons:
Newly planted trees
It may seem drastic, but all fruit must be removed from any tree that’s been in the ground for less than a year. It won’t produce much in the first year anyway and, by sacrificing a small harvest, you will get a stronger, more productive tree in the long run. Removing the fruit in the second year is also a good idea, although less essential. Patience pays off!
When and how to thin
Wait until mid-July, after the June drop, to thin your fruit. This way you avoid thinning out fruit that would have fallen naturally, thus ending up with a really sparse harvest. The amount you thin will depend on the type of fruit (see below). Use either secateurs, long scissors or your fingers to thin the fruit to the recommended spacing. Get rid of anything that’s blemished or misshapen, along with what’s known as the ‘king’ fruit at the centre of each cluster, which is often a strange shape. Aim to be left with the best shaped, strongest fruits, which will then mature to the best shaped, tastiest fruits.
… and by how much