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We planted a lot of papaya trees, (and some even self seeded). Now many of them are fruiting very well (20+ per tree).

In Scotland I had apple trees and they produced a lot of flower, and then a a lot of tiny fruits. Recieved wisdom was to pick off 50% to encourage the growth of the rest. This resulted in much larger apples from the buds left on .

Should I reduce the number of papaya fruits to achieve the same result, and if so, by what percentage?

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Well, if you have a lot of 'herbs' not (biologically) trees that are fruiting, you could always experiment by cutting some back.

 

IMO, fruits could tend to abort if the main plant cannot support the numbers. And if any plants are all male and not fruiting, cut off the head, and it will revert to making fruit.

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Good question. We lose plenty of fruit during storms so I don't think that thinning is necessary.

Apple trees and the like have a short growing season and depending on pollination do need thinning out if you have the time and inclination. 

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Used to live on a papaya farm, didn’t do any thinning. University of Hawaii College of Tropical Ag is a leader in this field, here is some general info from their extension service. As it says, selecting for hermaphrodite plants is part of the strategy for optimal fruit production. 

 

 
Why Some Papaya Plants Fail to Fruit
C. L. Chia and Richard M. Manshardt, Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences
Fruits and Nuts Oct. 2001 F&N- 5
 Papaya plants in home gardens sometimes fail to fruit. The plant may begin to develop fruits, but the fruits drop from the plant when they are about golf-ball size. This is not because the plant is unhealthy or under growth stress. It is a natural abortion of a female flower that had not been pollinated and therefore failed to develop into a fruit.
Papaya plants occur in one of three sexual forms: male, female, or hermaphrodite. These forms are ex­ pressed in the plant’s flower.
Male flowers have no ovary and do not produce a fruit. They contain stamens bearing pollen that can pol-
The three types of papaya flower
linate a papaya flower with an ovary, causing it to pro­ duce a fruit. Male papaya plants are somewhat rare in Hawaii, since the “solo” types generally grown here do not produce male plants. Male flowers are conspicuously different from those of the other types because they are borne in large numbers on a branched, drooping flower stalk (peduncle).
Female papaya flowers have an ovary and are borne on the stem of the plant, where the leaf is attached (that is, in the axil of the leaf petiole). Female flowers are bulbous at the base and, before they open, pointed at the tip. The ovary of the female flower must receive pollen from another plant (either a male or hermaphrodite type) before it can be fertilized and produce a fruit containing viable seeds. The pollen is carried in the wind or on an insect. If there is no pollen in the vacinity, the small, developing fruit aborts and falls from the plant. Com­ mercial growers remove female plantsfrom their fields as soon as the first flowers appear and the sex of the plants can be determined.
Hermaphrodite flowers have both an ovary and sta­ mens bearing pollen. They can pollinate themselves and do not require the presence nearby of another papaya plant. They are borne in the leaf axils, like the female papaya flowers.
The hermaphrodite plant is the preferred type of pa­ paya plant for dependable fruit production, but under certain conditions its flower morphology is unstable and subject to “sex reversal.” Cool winter weather or high soil moisture can lead to a shift toward femaleness, where the stamens fuse to the carpels or ovary wall. The re­ sulting fruits become severely ridged (carpelloid, or “cat­ faced”) and hence are deformed and unmarketable. High
   1 inch
Female
conical bud; petals free; large ovary with prominent stigma; no stamens;
does not form fruit unless pollinated
Hermaphrodite
cylindrical bud; petals fused at base; con­ tains both ovary and stamens; self-fertile
Male
slender, spoon­ shaped bud; petals fused at base; contains anthers but no ovary; cannot develop into fruit
   Published by the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) and issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Andrew G. Hashimoto, Director/Dean, Cooperative Extension Service/CTAHR, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822. An Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Institution providing programs and services to the people of Hawaii without regard to race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, arrest and court record, sexual orientation, or veteran status. CTAHR publications can be found on the Web site <http://www2.ctahr.hawaii.edu> or ordered by calling 808-956-7046 or sending e-mail to ctahrpub@hawaii.edu.
 

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