Apple Trees: Overcropping and Storing
Some varieties are liable to overcrop. To prevent the branches from breaking or cracking under the weight of fruit, thin out the apples with the thumb and forefinger or a pair of scissors in June when they are about the size of walnuts.
Keep dessert apples 4 in. apart on each branch and cooking varieties 8 in. apart. Remove the centre apple of each cluster (the king apple), which is never as well-shaped nor keeps as well as the other apples in the cluster.
It is sometimes inconvenient to pick all the apples in a large orchard at the right time, and it is then advisable to spray the trees with a hormone wash such as Anapal or Shellestone. If the stalks are thoroughly soaked, the apples will cling to the branches for about three weeks longer and no gale will blow them off.
Store apples in any room or shed where the temperature can be kept at about 40° F. (4° C.) and where the air can circulate between the fruits. Apples breathe even after they have been picked, and if they lose moisture during storage they will shrivel.
A damp, clean shed is therefore preferable to a dry loft, and a cellar is recommended because it is below ground, where little external heat can penetrate. A good store should have double doors, a double roof , double walls, and a window with a wooden shutter fitted on the inside. This shutter can be closed to prevent a rise in or a loss of heat.
Wash down and clean the inside of the store in September.
To bring the inside temperature down to 40° F. (4° C.), open the double doors and window at night to admit the cold air, and close them early in the morning.
The store need not be fitted with slatted shelves. It is best to put the apples in half-bushel orchard trays. These trays have open sides so that air can circulate between the fruits, and the strips of wood forming the boxes have rounded edges so that there are no sharp corners to cut into the fruit skins.
Before bringing the apples into the store, leave them in their boxes outside overnight so that they are chilled; then put them in the store very early in the morning. Sometimes, with really late varieties like Bramley’s Seedling, Newton Wonder and Lane’s Prince Albert, it is advisable to leave the boxes of fruit outside for a week to allow the apples to ‘sweat’ so that they will be drier when taken into the store. If possible, wrap each fruit in a sheet of 10 in. square oiled wrapping-paper so that the carbon dioxide given off by the apple will not escape but will help it to keep well, and will delay the process of over-ripening. Stand the boxes containing the fruit on top of one another so that they take up as little space as possible.
Apples keep better if stored separately from pears.