For studies on blossom/fruit thinning in apple, tree selection is often based on uniformity of bloom/crop load, assuming that such trees exhibit greater uniformity to treatment. However, the literature is replete with data showing marked variation for a given treatment. We followed variation in bloom/crop density of spur-type `Delicious'/MM.106 and effect of ethephon applied in high crop years on return bloom/yield. Uniform trees (n = 95), under identical cultural practices, were selected for varying crop load. Return bloom, yield and fruit size were monitored over six years. General mean (X) for yield was 94 ± 25 kg/tree and bloom density, rated 1 to 10 (highest), was 5.4 ± 1.7. Annual yield deviated from X by +56 to –40% and bloom density by +49 to –42%. All trees were ranked (decreasing yield) and assigned to five percentile (PCTL) groups (1st, 81-100; 2nd, 61-80; 3rd, 41-60; 4th, 21-40; 5th, 0-20 kg/tree). Trees in each group were reassigned annually to the five PCPL groups for the next five years. Of trees in 1st PCTL (n = 19, X = 187 ± 10 kg/tree) in year one, 5, 5, 24, 0 and 63% placed in PCPL 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, respectively, in year two. Of trees in 1st PCTL (5%) in year two, all placed in PCTL 2 in year three. Effect of ethephon [200 mg·L-1 at 3, 3 + 6, 3 + 6 + 9 weeks after full bloom (WAFB)] applied in on years to `Redchief', with strong alternate bearing, were evaluated for six years. Ethephon at 3 WAFB had no effect. Yield from multiple applications differed from control (NTC) in off years, but not from each other. Total yield (3 on + 3 off years) for the NTC and ethephon at 3 + 6 WAFB was similar (479 vs. 471 kg/tree). However, 64% of the total yield was produced in the on years and 36% in the off years in NTC vs. 56 and 44% in 3 + 6 WAFB, respectively.