|Authors: ||T.L. Robinson, S.A. Hoying, G.H. Reginato|
|Keywords: ||Malus × domestica, apple, rootstock, planting density, profitability, labor efficiency, pruning, yield, fruit quality|
The Tall Spindle planting system is an amalgamation of several orchard systems that incorporates aspects of the slender spindle system, the vertical axis system, the solaxe system and the super spindle system.
The important components of this system are: 1) the optimum economic planting density (2,500-3,300 trees/ha), 2) highly feathered nursery trees (10-15 feathers), 3) minimal pruning at planting, 4) bending feathers below horizontal soon after planting, 5) no permanent scaffold branches and 6) limb renewal pruning to remove and renew branches as they get too large.
We began evaluating the Tall Spindle system in replicated field plantings in 1994 at Albion NY, in 1997 at Geneva, NY, in 2002 at Peru, NY and in 2006 at Alton and New Paltz NY in comparison to both higher and lower densities.
The Tall Spindle system has been the most profitable system we have evaluated.
The early trials were planted with moderately feathered trees which had only moderate yield in the second and third years, while the last two trials utilized highly feathered trees and had much higher yields (15-20 t/ha) in the second year.
The system has the potential to produce 150 t/ha cumulative yield over the first five years.
As trees have matured, limb renewal pruning has allowed the maintenance of a tall but narrow canopy with good light distribution, high light interception and high yields.
If tree height exceeded 90% of the between row spacing, fruit quality in the lower part of the canopy was reduced.
The tall spindle system is adaptable to partial mechanization of pruning for reduced pruning, hand thinning and harvest costs.
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