The Q&A Archives: Can An Apple Tree Be Sterilized So It Won't Bear So Much Fruit?

Question: We have an ancient apple tree in our back yard that provides great shade. However it is also exceedingly prolific and far too tall and broad to hand pick flowers or fruit. Bees are such a problem in most years that we are sometimes afraid to use the back door. We wind up with more fruit than anybody wants (and drunken bees, which are very agressive). The apples are tart, and we prefer the Golden Delicious that grows farther back in our yard anyway. We don't want to get rid of the old apple tree, but would like to inhibit or stop apple production. Is there any way to sterilize the tree or at least inhibit production?

Answer: Unfortunately, I am not aware of any way to stop the apples altogether. The bees are probably working both trees and ensure fruit production on the one you like. Pruning might reduce the amount of fruiting wood and thus the quantity, and thinning the young fruit would do the same. You might be able to place netting beneath the tree to make clean up easier, and perhaps a local food bank would appreciate some of the fruit.

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