Crop load management and biennial bearing

Crop load management in cider apples is approached with different goals than for dessert fruit. For cider apples, fruit size is not typically an important consideration, nor necessarily is reduction of fruit clustering. Typically, a cider apple grower is seeking high total tonnage of smaller apples with higher skin-to-flesh ratio, preferably on an annual basis. Therefore, aggressive thinning and especially thinners that promote cell division (e.g., benzyladenine-containing materials) are not generally recommended in cider orchards. Many European cider apple cultivars show limited response to most chemical thinners and tend to adopt biennial bearing habits regardless of crop load management practices applied.