Although flower or fruitlet thinning represents the most important strategy for improving final fruit size and quality, supplementary factors which influence fruit size and quality should also be considered.
If apple orchards are to be profitable it is essential that a high proportion of the harvested yields (>80%) should be of suitable size, appearance and quality to command the highest available market returns. It is therefore important to optimise all management inputs to ensure the best fruit size and quality at harvest and through storage. To achieve these objectives:
- Ensure that fruitlets set with adequate numbers of seeds.
- Encourage cell division and expansion in fruitlets.
- Prune and train trees so as to optimise exposure of the fruits to light.
- Maintain adequate and balanced supplies of water and nutrients to trees.
- Avoid use of crop protection or other sprays that may damage the skin finish of the fruits.
- Apply sprays of gibberellins to improve skin finish.