September 30, 2020
Definition: The removal of weaker plants or trees to decrease competition for resources (space, sunlight, nutrients, water) and allow for more healthy and vigorous growth.
A Closer Look: Thinning is a necessary practice in agroforestry and Forest Gardens. When trees are planted in close proximity to one another, they can encroach on one another's growth and begin competing for important resources like space (both above and below ground), sunlight, water, and nutrients.
When farmers practice thinning, removing the less promising trees, they give the remaining trees a chance to thrive. We most commonly see farmers use thinning when cultivating living fences. Farmers can begin thinning as early as the germination phase. If more than one seedling sprouts in the same planting hole, the surplus growth is removed. However, farmers planting timber trees often wait up to six years or until the canopy is filled out before thinning out the weaker trees.
Thinning vs. Pruning: Certain agricultural approaches consider thinning to include removing weaker branches or underperforming fruits to encourage more vigorous and healthy growth, but the Forest Garden Approach refers to this practice as pruning.
Learn more about thinning and pruning by visiting the Forest Garden Training Center today.