|Authors: ||T.L. Robinson, S.A. Hoying|
|Keywords: ||apple, Malus x domestica, planting system, tree density, rootstock, cash flow, profitability, net present value|
A replicated orchard planting systems field trial was planted in 1993 in Albion, New York.
The trial was 5 acres in size, had 4 varieties (‘Red Cortland’, ‘NuRedspur Delicious’, ‘Thome Empire’ and ‘Regal Gala’) and compared 7 training systems each planted at 2 densities (Vertical Axis/M.26 at 1,098 and 1538 tree/ha; Vertical Axis/M.9, Slender Spindle/M.9, V-Slender Spindle/M.9 and Y-trellis/M.9 at 1495 and 2,242 trees/ha; V-trellis/M.9 at 2,242 and 4485 trees/ha and Super Spindle/M.9 at 4485 and 5980 trees/ha). Over the 9 years of the trial, there were no large differences in yield, quality or profitability between different high density training systems when they were planted at the same density.
Cumulative yield was linearly related to tree density during the early years, but as the trees matured, yields were related to tree density with a curvilinear relationship.
Profitability was also curvilinearly related to tree density with intermediate densities giving similar profitability to the highest densities. ‘Gala’ was the most productive and most profitable variety while ‘Delicious’ was the least productive and was not profitable with any system.
With replant soils in New York State, such as the one used in this study, all densities up to 5,500 trees/ha were manageable and productive.
The optimum planting density depended on economic factors not horticultural limitations.
In this study, the optimum density for profitability was between 2,200 and 3,000 trees/ha.
The super high density systems were profitable, but less profitable than more moderate densities of around 2,200 trees/ha.
We estimate that investment risk increases with increased investment costs, making the super spindle system riskier from an investment perspective.
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