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Butler County

Lack of Fruit on Trees

apple tree

         Over the last few weeks there have been several questions regarding the lack of fruit on some fruit trees across the area. There are several reasons why a fruit tree that has produced fruit in the past does not have any this year. One of the most common causes is cold temperatures when the tree was blooming. Apricot and peach trees are particularly vulnerable to frost damage to blooms in the spring but other trees can be damaged as well. When trees are in full bloom they can easily be damaged by a late cold snap similar to what we had this spring. For most of the trees the late cold snap is the reason there is no fruit however location also plays a role. Trees that were closer to a building or sidewalk that radiated heat during that cold night likely will still have fruit this year. Another cause for poor fruit set is also pollination.

        If there were cooler temperatures and cloudy days the bees may not have visited the trees like they normally would have which resulted in fewer fruit on the trees. The most complicated reason for a lack of fruit set on apple, pear and plums is called biennial bearing. This causes trees to have lots of flowers one year but few the next year. This issue is caused by the presence of fruit on the tree during the same time next year’s flower buds are formed. A large number of fruit one year can limit the number of fruit buds for next year. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything we can do now to have more fruit other than make sure the tree is as healthy as it can be.

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Have questions? Contact our office where our Horticulture Extension Agent will assist you with questions.

Phone: (316) 321-9660

Email: callae@ksu.edu