Honeycrisp apple tree: 2-year fruiting cycle???

Asked April 12, 2018, 3:28 PM EDT

I planted an Honeycrisp apple tree 10-11 years ago and I wonder if the fact that it has heavy blooms and a couple hundred apples one year, then maybe 6 blooms and maybe a few apples the next is normal for this species? At first I thought this was because it was a new planting and needed to gain root strength, but this 2-year cycle has been consistent. I cannot find any info on this on-line from any Honeycrisp apple site. Thank you for your help.

Benton County Oregon

1 Response

Apple trees are well-known for their habit of “alternate bearing.” This describes their habit in which they produce a heavy crop one year but hardly anything the next year. Many apples are prone to this habit, among them Honeycrisp.

You can decrease the alternate bearing to a degree with thinning. (Thinning is removing the excess fruit by hand.) In order to be effective, thinning must be done while the fruit is very small, between 3 and 5 weeks after bloom.Even though removing excess fruits means that you will harvest fewer apples in an individual year, doing so will improve fruit size and quality.

It may take a few years of thinning the excess fruits to overcome the tendency of the tree to alternate bumper crops with very small ones. See “Growing Tree Fruits and Nuts,“ especially page 11. (https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/ec819.pdf)

“Training and Pruning Your Home Orchard” will also prove useful to you: (https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/pnw400.pdf)