All your Fruit Questions Answered

Summer is the main time for enjoying the crops from your home orchard, starting with early stonefruit prior to Christmas through to the apples, pears and feijoas as the season changes to autumn. Kate Marshall from Waimea Nurseries shares her expert advice to help you care for your fruit trees, along with tips for plentiful crops!

 

 

 

FRUIT SEASON

Some types of fruit trees produce a crop sooner than others, with dwarf varieties the quickest. It’s important to remove any fruit that forms in the first season after planting. This is to allow the tree to establish a strong root system and framework of branches, rather than putting a lot of energy into fruit development.

COMMON ISSUES

Unfortunately sometimes fruit trees may fail to produce a crop. More often than not, the problem is due to a lack of pollination. This can be caused by bad weather during flowering (wet, cold and/ or windy), not having the cross-pollinating variety, or lack of bee activity. Other causes of poor cropping can be reasons like the tree being too young to produce fruit, not growing healthily due to pests, disease, poor nutrition, lack of watering, or growing with too much vegetative growth from excessive nitrogen.

If the fruit on your fruit trees is very small, this is usually caused by overcropping, which can lead to biennial bearing (producing a massive crop every second year). Small fruit is common on dwarf peach and nectarine trees due to a high level of pollination on a small number of branches. Biennial bearing is most commonly seen on pear and plum trees. Increase fruit size by thinning fruit to a sensible crop load for the size of the tree. This is best done in early summer when the fruitlets are about the size of a 20c coin, reducing the number of fruit in a bunch so that the mature fruit will not touch its neighbours.

Small fruit, or premature fruit drop – when the fruit falls before ripening, can also be caused by poor nutrition and lack of water (or sporadic irrigation). Feed fruit trees with Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser and mulch with Tui Mulch & Feed to assist with moisture retention. Water deeply and regularly, ideally with a hose left dribbling for an hour or so once a week. Water is very important over the hotter months as fruit forms.

FRUIT TREE MAINTENANCE

All fruit trees benefit from a regular feeding regime to provide the right nutrients for maximum tree health and top crops. Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser is suitable for your fruit trees planted in the garden or in pots and
containers. Feed in spring and summer to provide your fruit trees a balanced and even spread of all essential nutrients for maximum fruiting and flowering.

To increase fruit production next season, sprinkle Tui Sulphate of Potash around the base of the tree in autumn. This provides a boost of potassium – the most important element for the development of flowers and fruit.

Summer pruning is recommended for keeping fruit trees shorter for easy picking. Simply clip the new growth back by half in December/January, then again in February/March. This pruning technique shocks the tree slightly which reduces growth.

Apply Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic regularly to help reduce the shock and give trees an overall boost.

Read our Fruit Tree Growing Guide here >

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All your Fruit Questions Answered Comments

  • My tomatoes are still green and my peppers haven't even come out yet. What's with that? A cold Dunedin summer?

    Michelle Carruthers

  • I have a Meyer Lemon Tree in a pot on my Deck it is watered well and has quite a few lemons about size 10 and 20 cent pieces - The leaves are going pale and some yellow It is in a very sunny place and I never let it get Dry What would be a solution Really don't want to loose the fruit Thanks Shelley

    Shelley Miller

  • Hi, what can cause an avocado tree not to produce any fruit? the tree grew from an avocado pip and it's been around for more than 10 years. it was been pruned a couple of times but still no fruit. hope you can help thanks

    Eanga Pearman-Porima

  • Hi Can you tell me why my limes keep dropping off my tree. I get loads of flowers and most of them start to form little limes and then all of a sudden I loose the lot bar 1 or 2 and then they fall off as well. I water every second day and also feed it. I am growing it in a large pot. Your help would be appreciated.

    Pam Smith

  • Hello I was listening to radio interview on RNZ with Bostocks. He mentioned organic product to deal with coddling moth it makes the males disoriented, do you know what it is? And where to get it? Breaks the mating cycle Thanks

    Nick Sach

  • My nectarine tree grew heaps of small fruits. It's a dwarf in a large container. The wind has been so wicked and the rain its partner in crime shredded the wee fruit from the tree. What should I apply to address the stress?

    Mariann

  • I have 2 selfferilising dwarf Apricot trees, but neither have had any fruit on, although they did have flowers. What is the problem?

    Celia Geary

  • I have my dwarf fruit trees, peaches, apricots and nectarines, in large pots, I am trying blueberries in pots also this year, I have mixed results, the peaches are good.,Apricots seem more difficult, only got 4 this year they were delicious.

    Joan Ross

  • My fruit trees are doing well but I'm devastated there are NO blueberries or black currants on the bushes. What do you think is wrong? they are well mulched & watered. (Wanaka) thank you

    Beverley James

  • My Golden Delicious apple I planted 4 years ago and have espaliered it against trellis. Last year I gave it Potash early winter but so far it has not flowered. I grew one in Auckland and it fruited the season after it was planted but here in the Waikato I have not succeeded in getting one flower.

    Merlyn Clarke

  • Our cherry tree's leaves have screwed up on the new growing tips. This is a new tree planted just last year. What do we do for this

    Jule Temple

  • Wonderful informative guide to gardening. Thank you

    Tim

  • do you think ugly fruit will grow in Westport lemmons do well

    helen

  • Very reassuring information. Thank you

    Mariann

  • I am trying to get my Feijoa tree in the best condition before The leading months to April harvest. What can I be doing to get it lush and produce plump Feijoas? And when is the correct time to prune Feijoa trees?

    Jonaye Griffin

  • so dissapointed,over the last 3/4 years we have lost a lemon, mandarin and now plum tree is just curling its toes up and dying, just like the others did, one day looking fine and the next we could see them die in front of our eyes. Will it be our soil for years we were inudated with lemons and mandarins, they were kept watered and fed,

    Jenny Manley

  • Great newsletter! I am really keen to try an expeller plum tree. I live in Lower Hutt so don't know what my chances will be. Have you any hints?

    Bernadine

  • Having bought a dwarf Apple in Nov. and in spite of the windy,dry conditions it appears to be surviving, Iwill take your advice and remove the crop produced in its first year.

    Gerry English

  • Hi Michelle, yes most likely as many regions in New Zealand are experiencing the same with an overall cooler summer in lots of areas. Keep up with the feeding and watering and hopefully you will be enjoying harvests of these soon. Thanks, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi Celia, other causes of poor cropping include the tree being too young to produce fruit, not growing healthily due to pests, disease, poor nutrition, lack of watering, or growing with too much vegetative growth from excessive nitrogen. Could any of these be the issue with your apricot trees? Ensure your trees are well watered, fed (but not over-fed) and check for signs of pest and disease. We suggest an application of Seasol plant tonic to give your trees a boost. Kind regards, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Thanks for your feedback Tim, happy gardening from the Tui Team.

    jenna

  • Hi Bernadine, check out our Fruit Tree Espalier Guide here for some tips: http://www.tuigarden.co.nz/howtoguide/fruit-tree-espalier-guide - Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi Shelley, thanks for getting in touch. Have you fed your tree regularly? Yellow leaves are a common sign of magnesium deficiency. We suggest feeding your tree with Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser (it is suitable for pots and containers and feeds for up to four months), Tui Epsom Salts will also help with yellowing leaves. Also suggest an application of Seasol plant tonic now to give your tree an overall boost. All the best, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi Mariann, that is a shame! We suggest regular applications of Seasol plant tonic to help cope with the stress it has suffered and to give your tree a good overall boost. Find out more here: http://www.tuigarden.co.nz/product/seasol A feed of Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser will also help. All the best, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi Helen, it is certainly worth a try especially as lemons do well in your area. All the best, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi Mariann, thank you for your feedback. Happy summer gardening from the Tui Team!

    jenna

  • Hi Jonaye, great questions. Our Feijoa Growing Guide has the answers you are after, see here: http://www.tuigarden.co.nz/howtoguide/feijoa-growing-guide and look under the Nourish, Protect and Top Tip sections. Enjoy your feijoas and happy gardening, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi Beverley, great you are keeping the plants well mulched and watered. If you haven't already, we suggest feeding both berry plants with Tui Strawberry Food to help encourage fruiting. Also check for signs of pests and diseases on the leaves of the plants. An application of Seasol plant tonic will also help give the plants and overall boost. Thanks, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi Merlyn, Golden Delicious is a tip and spur bearing variety, meaning that it will produce fruit on the tips of branches and on the short, stubby shoots (called ‘spurs). These spurs are productive year after year, so should not be pruned off. Do you know what rootstock the tree is grafted onto? More vigorous rootstocks like MM106 can take 3-4 years to produce fruit. Another consideration is that the tree may not be receiving the required ‘winter chilling’ of 700 hours below 7 degrees, which is what tells the tree to start flowering once 700 hours are accumulated. The Auckland area has an average winter chill of between 500 and 700 hours, so hopefully you are in the colder area of things. Thanks, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi Pam, Fruit drop is caused by stress – water (too much or too little), temperature (hot/cold extremes), nutrition problems and/or pest/disease problems. Some things to consider: - How long as the tree been in the pot? It may need repotting, to replenish the growing media as it can become ‘hydrophobic’ – which means the mix actually repels water. Use good quality mix like Tui Pot Power. This contains a six month controlled release fertiliser, so it will need feeding after that. - Have you fed the tree enough? For citrus in pots you need to take care to use a suitable fertiliser. Citrus are heavy feeders so need very regular fertiliser to keep the leaves dark green and glossy (no yellowing, curling or discoloured veins), with lots of new growth and fruit production. Use Scotts Osmocote Fruit, Citrus, Trees & Shrubs for citrus in pots, or Tui Citrus Food for trees planted in the ground. - Are you watering deeply enough? There should be enough water applied that it leaks steadily from the drainage holes in the pot, so that the growing media is well drenched. Mulch with Tui Mulch & Feed to assist with moisture retention. Check the moisture levels on the day you don’t normally water by poking your finger down into the dirt. If it’s damp it doesn’t need more watering that day, but if it’s dry, you may need to move to daily watering. - Is the tree exposed to cold snaps? Cover with protective cloth or move into a warm area if unseasonal cold spells/nights are expected. Limes aren’t frost hardy, so must be protected from frosts. Thanks, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi Jenny, thank you for getting in touch. It certainly seems like the problem is in your soil. Suggest you dig a deep hole – like 1 metre deep, and try to see if you have any clay layers, signs of contamination, shingle layers or any sort of infestations of soil insects. Once you know what your are dealing with you can remedy the situation, suggest you do not plant anything more until you check out what is going on down there. Thanks, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi Jule, this sounds like a sign of aphids, they just love the soft new growth as its sweet and juicy and easy for them to feed from. Check the underside of the leaves for signs of insects. Spray with an insect spray such as Tui Insect Eliminator for Fruit & Veges. Thanks, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi Eanga, thank you for getting in touch. Avocados grown from seed can take a very long time to fruit, and sometimes they produce no fruit, many avocados trees sold in garden centres are grafted because of this. You can wait a few more years but it may not happen. You could try planting a second tree to aid in cross pollination. Thanks, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi Pam, We are delighted to inform you that your question has been chosen to feature in our newsletter and on our website – congratulations! Please confirm your address for delivery of your prize by email to info@tuiproducts.co.nz - Thanks, Tui Team

    jenna

  • My nectarine tree which is grown in a large pot fruits well but the fruit goes mouldy and rotten before it ripens, any advice please

    Joan Ross

  • Hi Joan, you have got brown rot. This is a fungal problem which needs to be treated for when the fruit is forming at flowering time in the spring. There is little you can do for it at this time of year, which will be frustrating for you. The spores of the fungus over-winter in the bark and nestle into the young fruit as it develops on the spring. Spray a spray that is registered to control when the plants are flowering. All the best, Tui Team.

    jenna

  • Hi, we recently bought a property in Brighton, Dunedin. The property has two Nashi Pear trees which have been neglected for many years. It is long overdue a prune and we were wondering when is the best time to do this. Thanks

    Shane Turner

  • Hi Shane, winter is the best time to prune. Check out our Fruit Tree Pruning Guide here for more tips: http://www.tuigarden.co.nz/howtoguide/fruit-tree-pruning-guide All the best, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi there We have never had guava moth/codling moth in our feijoa fruit but are gutted to see it this year - is there anything we can do about it?

    Phoebe

  • Hi Phoebe, guava moths can unfortunately be a problem with feijoas. At present no completely effective treatments exist. Guava moths lay their eggs on the fruit and the larva burrows into the fruit. It is very hard to treat once the plant is affected and is a big problem in warmer regions. Prevention is the best method of control. Cover the feijoa trees with fine netting immediately after flowering (when the petals have fallen) to protect the fruit. Secure with tape to the supporting branch. Remove fallen and rotting fruit, and dead leaves and mulch from under the tree as often the moths lay eggs in these areas. Guava moth pheromone delta traps with sticky bases are available from garden centres and rural suppliers. All the best, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Codlin moths the bane of my apple trees

    Roy

  • Hi Nick, we're not familiar with this product however suggest checking at your local garden centre, or getting in touch with RNZ for the product name. Thanks, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi there, I planted a grafted dwarf apple tree in the garden two years ago. It grew leaves year after year but no flowers or fruit. This year it's second year so far no leaves but I see new shoots. What do you think is the problem. I water regularly. Please help.

    Murin thanaraj

  • Hi Murin, the information above will be useful for your tree. Dwarf apples can take 1-2 years to fruit after planting. After that sometimes fruit trees may fail to produce a crop, and more often than not, the problem is due to a lack of pollination. This can be caused by bad weather during flowering (wet, cold and/ or windy) or lack of bee activity. Other causes of poor cropping can be reasons like the tree being too young to produce fruit, not growing healthily due to pests, disease, poor nutrition, lack of watering, or growing with too much vegetative growth from excessive nitrogen. See our tips above for feeding your tree, it will benefit from a regular feeding regime - Sulphate of Potash will help encourage flowering and fruiting. All the best, Tui Team

    jenna

  • We've inherited a couple of huge plum trees when we bought our house nearly a year ago. Last year there was only 1 plum. This year there looked to be loads but they've just started turning yellow and falling off. They are about the half the size of my little finger. What should we do. The ground is flat and I thought a good wetness with all the rain but they're in a windy position. Thank you :)

    Katrina

  • Hi Katrina, plum trees aborting fruit can indicate dry soil or a fungal problem. The tree is under some sort of stress. Look at the leaves carefully to see if you can spot any leaf damage to indicate it’s a fungal problem. If you spot a silver colouring or dark blemishes if it probably fungal, therefore spray with a fungal spray. All the best, Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi I have a large fig tree (2.5meters high approx)in the garden, we have been living on the property for three years, (tree was already there) but it has never fruited? It has large luscious leaves, and seems to be in good health? What can be done to help it fruit?

    Vanya

  • Hi Vanya, that is a good sign your tree is healthy. The information above is ideal for your problem of the fig not fruiting. Have you fed your tree? All fruit trees benefit from a regular feeding regime to provide the right nutrients for maximum tree health and top crops. Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser is suitable for your fruit trees planted in the garden or in pots and containers. Feed in spring and summer to provide your fruit trees a balanced and even spread of all essential nutrients for maximum fruiting and flowering. To increase fruit production next season, sprinkle Tui Sulphate of Potash around the base of the tree in autumn. This provides a boost of potassium – the most important element for the development of flowers and fruit. Happy gardening from the Tui Team.

    jenna

  • Tamarillos. We have had a problem for several years with wierd gritty ‘stones’ in the yellow side flesh of the tamarillo fruit. Not all the fruit on the same tree has this but most does. We can still use the fruit but it means scooping out the seed laden dark centre rather than skinning the fruit by immersing in hot water. What’s causing this?

    Jane

  • Hi Jane, the problem could either be an insect chewing the skin of the fruit, it could be a mite, which are tiny and hard to see, as when they do the damage the fruit is small. Or your soil could be lacking in nutrients, if the foliage looks dull or pale, a side dressing of fruit tree fertiliser will help, along with an application of Tui Seaweed Plant Tonic. At the end of the season, remove all the fruit and anything that may be on the ground, this will help eliminate an insect problem staying the soil. All the best ^Tui Team

    jenna

  • Codling Moth is a problem in our apple trees. What should we be doing? I have heard that cleaning the trees with soap and water to maybe dislodge the eggs/larvae may help. I have used neem granules and have the liquid to spray the trees with. Suggestions please. Thanks

    Sue

  • Hi Sue, the moth flies in September/October so a pheromone trap that attracts the male is the most effective way to control the moth, stopping it from mating. These can be purchased from garden centres and hardware stores and hung in the tree. Wrap corrugated cardboard around the tree, the caterpillars that have been dormant in the soil over winter crawl up and hide in the corrugating - burn or dispose of in the rubbish and replace. A grease band can be applied to the tree as well, this stops the caterpillars crawling up the tree into the fruit. Collect up fallen fruit at the end of the season and burn or throw in the rubbish, don't compost as the caterpillar can over winter in the fruit and emerge in spring. Hope this further information helps - Jenna ^Tui Team

    jenna

  • Hi, I’ve tried lots of different things over more than 15 years on our heritage apple we inherited with our house which was & still is infested. Our nashi we planted has fully grown and has now also been increasingly effected for several years. We are organic in town & I have decided next year I will remove all fruit on both trees to try and break the life cycle completely - I would like your opinion on whether this will actually work - we loose all our apples to this & every year I work hard to get rid of & hope & am disappointed. I will be happy to loose a year or twos fruit if it means we are free of them but don’t want to then discover somehow they still survived & it’s another year gone - will they die off with no food source? Also - to pull off fruit straight away or wait till early infected (couple weeks after petal fall?) Any ideas? Thanks

    Sue

    • Hi Sue, that is a shame you are dealing with this problem. There are natural pheromone traps that are successful in capturing the male moth and so this breaks the life cycle. It is important that they be placed on the tree late August through until late October as that is when the moths are flying. Corrugated cardboard can be placed around the trunk of the tree and the caterpillar will crawl up the tree after pupating and nest in the corrugations. These need to be checked regularly and disposed of in the bin or burnt. There are also grease bands that can be used as the eggs are laid in the fruit, they drop to the ground, they pupate over winter in the soil and then crawl up the tree and into the fruit. Be sure to remove all fallen fruit and collect up fallen leaves from the ground and dispose of in the rubbish or burn, do not throw into the compost bin. Spray the tree with a suitable organic orchard oil through the winter to clean up any overwintering eggs. We hope these measures make a difference for your trees. 

      Tui Team