Fruit Vs. Shade

In my home orchard I have a shade problem. On the south side of my orchard, my neighbor’s trees provide more shade than fruit bearing trees can tolerate. The trees will grow but bear no fruit. You can draw a line across the back of my property (65′ by 75′), fruit on one side, none on the other.

Those of you that have not converted to dwarfing root- stock may notice that as your trees get larger, the quality of the fruit is less. Fruit quality might be related to shade. As you observe the trees’ shade pattern this spring and summer, watch to see if you have solid shade. If you do, then those solid shade areas are not getting enough light to set fruit buds or for proper fruit development.

Summer-prune these trees so that you at least get a mottled or stippled shade pattern. To get these light patterns try the following:

  1. If there are branches that form a Y; remove one of the arms of the Y.
  2. Any branches that are 1/2 to 2/3 the diameter of the central leader should be removed.
  3. Prune all the strong upright branches.

Now, observe the light penetration into the tree. In the next year see if you can see a difference in fruit quality.

Pome News, Spring 2003 Issue