Removing apples or stopping bloom

Asked August 25, 2018, 2:27 PM EDT

I give up. I have tried motion sprinklers, netting and sprays, but the squirrels have cleaned out all of the fruit from the 4 apple trees in my side yard. Tired of cleaning up the mess they leave behind. I don't want to cut the trees down. Is there a safe spray that I can apply that would stop the trees from producing apples? Again, 4 small trees in my side yard. Thanks

Wayne County Michigan

1 Response

There are no sprays that I know of to stop a tree from blooming.
Commercial growers will use caustic sprays to burn off the flowers and stop pollination. You would need to spray several times to get most of the flowers as they bloom.
There are also commercial thinning sprays that will knock off the fruit soon after bloom. Commercial growers try to apply these sprays in the 3 weeks after bloom. The earlier the spray the more effective it is. The warmer the weather the more effective the spray.
The common insecticide Sevin is a moderate thinner. Another thinner is often sold in more complete garden stores is Amid-thin or Fruittone. A mixture of both of these materials on a warm day as soon after bloom as possible would remove most of the fruit leaving only a few apples. Commercial growers struggle to get good thinning with these sprays and still leave a good crop that will size well.
You will still need to thin off the remaining fruit by hand but since the squirrels will harvest them anyway you can stop spraying for insects.
The tree will bloom profusely the following year and the fruit is usually easier to thin if there is a heavy bloom. In apples, the presence of fruit suppresses flower formation and the lack of fruit causes lots of flowers to form.