Apricot Thinning: How And When Should I Thin My Apricot Tree

Green unripe apricots on the tree. Selective focus with shallow depth of field.
Image by SandraMatic

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

If you have an apricot tree in your garden, you’re probably asking yourself, “Should I thin my apricot tree?” The answer is yes, and here’s why: apricot trees often set more fruit than the tree can support. Read on to learn more about thinning apricots on trees.

Thinning Apricot Trees

Although it’s great to see a tree laden with juicy apricots, branches can easily break under the excess weight.


Apricot thinning ensures that the remaining fruit receives more sunlight and air circulation, which improves the size and quality of the fruit and benefits the overall health of the entire tree. Crowded fruit places the tree at risk of diseases and insect infestation.

Thinning apricot trees is best done in early spring when the apricots are about ¾ to 1 inch in diameter.

How to Thin Apricot Fruit by Hand

Apricot thinning is a simple task: just twist the excess fruit gently from the branch. Avoid pulling or yanking the fruit because rough handling can damage the branch.

Allow 2 to 4 inches between each apricot, which is sufficient space so the fruit won’t rub together at maturity.

Apricot Thinning with a Pole

Apricot trees usually don’t exceed 15 to 25 feet in height, but if your tree is too tall for hand thinning, you can remove the fruit with a bamboo pole. Wrap thick tape or a length of rubber hose around the end of the pole to protect the branches, then remove the apricots by gently rubbing or tapping at the base of the fruit. This technique gets easier with practice.

Tip: Thinning apricot trees is time-consuming and messy, but here’s an easy way to save cleanup time (and your back). Just spread a tarp or plastic sheet on the ground to catch the discarded fruit.

Now that you know more about thinning apricots on trees, you can ensure bigger, healthier fruits come harvest time.

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