2021 Blossoms are Developing on your Fruit Trees

Developing Liberty Flower Bud June 27
Developing Liberty Flower Bud June 27

This image was shot a few days ago in my backyard. It is a developing blossom bud (also called a flower or fruit bud) on a Liberty Apple tree. This bud should produce blossoms in the spring of 2021. Apple and pear blossom bud induction usually occurs in June of each year and is complete by the end of the summer. Blossom buds for most stone fruit are initiated in July and they will also be fully developed by the end of the summer.

So why discuss this now? First, it is interesting to know that while your trees are growing and producing this year’s crop, they are also getting ready for next year’s crop. Second, by the end of summer, next year’s crop can be estimated using a blossom bud count. But, the most important reason is there are some things you can do now to increase the potential that blossom buds will produce a great crop next year.

What can you do now?

  1. Eliminate shade. The leaves directly attached to a fruit spur are the spur leaves. The more direct sunlight these leaves receive the better for the developing blossom bud. More direct sunlight this year results in stronger blossoms, improved fruit set and, higher quality fruit next year. This type of summer pruning involves branch shortening and thinning.
  2. Irrigate and feed. Ensure your trees receive adequate irrigation and nutrition through the summer months. 
  3. Thin Heavy Crops. This year’s fruit crop is competing for the tree’s resources with the developing blossom buds. If your trees are carrying a very heavy crop, consider removing some of the fruit to reduce competition. Thinning at this time of year will result in larger fruit at harvest and stronger fruit buds for next year.
  4. Reduce Excessive Vegetative Shoots. Rapidly growing vegetative shoots also compete with the developing blossom buds for the tree’s resources. Summer pruning to slow down or remove vegetative shoots not needed for the developing framework of the tree will reduce this competition. Caution: Excessive summer pruning of vegetative shoots can unbalance the leaf to fruit ratio and reduce the trees ability to manufacture carbohydrate.

The mid winter picture below is an example of healthy, fat blossom (fruit) buds that should produce great blossoms and fruit the following spring.

Dormant Apple Buds
Dormant Apple Buds
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