Have you seen any double fruit in your fruit trees?

A double cherry
A double cherry

It’s relatively common to see double fruit (like these cherries), and as you can see, in many cases the fruit is still perfectly usable.

The photo below shows a particularly unusual one that has caused the stem to split, but doubles – or conjoined fruit – are not an uncommon occurrence, particularly in stone fruit.

Conjoined apricots with a single stem
Conjoined apricots with a single stem

Some varieties (like Angelina) seem particularly prone to this, and are often a good demonstration of the phenomenon where one piece of fruit dominates the other and ends up much larger.

Conjoined Angelina plums where one plum is much bigger than the other
Conjoined Angelina plums where one plum is much bigger than the other

In many cases one of the pieces of fruit ends up so small as to really be un-usable, or the skin of the fruits are torn when separating them, which of course downgrades the quality of the fruit.

A rude Angelina
A rude Angelina

And sometimes the extra piece of fruit is so small as to be insignificant, and sometimes can be removed without doing damage to the main fruit. But they’re also often cute, funny or downright rude, so why would you?

So, what causes this, and is it avoidable?

Whether a fruit will be double or not is determined the summer before, when the fruit buds are developing.

If the young buds go through heat or water stress during the summer months, this increases the development of doubled fruit.

There’s not much we can do about heat waves, particularly with climate change affecting our environment so quickly, but we can make sure our trees are adequately irrigated, particularly during a heat wave, to minimise the stress on the tree.

Irregular or inadequate watering can also be one of the causes for fruit splitting, which is another whole story but can look like this.

A green nectarine with a split in it, possibly caused by irregular waterin
A green nectarine with a split in it, possibly caused by irregular watering

In a home garden it’s not terribly important whether you have double fruit or not because it’s usually still usable, but it’s not as pretty, and now you know how to avoid it! Download Smart Irrigation for Fruit Trees for more tips about how to irrigate wisely without wasting water or money.