Some apple trees bear heavily one year and sparsely the next. This is called biennial bearing. A very heavy crop one year may prevent adequate bud formation for the following year.
Some varieties go biennial; some don't. To me, it seems that not a lot can be done in the amateur's garden.
Some trees go biennial if they're not fed enough. Some go biennial no matter what you do. Trees I've found especially prone are some of the heavy - yielders: Allen's Everlasting, Claygate Pearmain, D'Arcy Spice, Golden Hornet(crab), George's Red, Red Devil, Devonshire Quarrenden.
I've tried thinning the crop in the 'on' year. On my trees it makes not a scrap of difference. My conclusion - might as well enjoy the bumper yield whilst I've got it.
Many of my trees never go biennial: MM106 crops year after year; so does Wyggeston Pippin, Laxton's Fortune, Ribston's Pippin, Bramley.
I have one very peculiar tree which is a 'double' in a large pot - it has two varieties. They've both gone biennial. One year I get Croft Late; the next year I get Whitwick Pippin. What about that?
If anyone knows better than me about biennial bearing, and has practical experience of how to overcome it, please contact the site. I'm always willing to learn.
Nigel Deacon / Diversity website
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