In the winter, when people ask me where I work and I answer Kimmel Orchard & Vineyard Educational Foundation Inc., the next statement that follows is usually, “Well this time of year should be nice for you, with nothing to do…” With that not being entirely true, Erin has asked me to start writing a blog entry every other Tuesday explaining what we are working on or something of interest that happens here at the Orchard. In the first installment of “Tuesdays with Tyler” we will be talking about training of young trees.
TRAINING OF ONE YEAR OLD APPLE TREES
Pictured above, we are looking at a one year old Aztec Fuji apple tree. These trees were planted based off of a high density orchard model. (I will talk more on what a high density orchard is in a future post.) After going to a few grower conferences this past month and a half I noticed that we had not done some of the recommended items in growing this kind of orchard. So this winter I am making an effort to implement as many of these items I can. In this post I will show you how we are going to try and promote growth and early cropping of our young trees. Last year these trees were planted in mid-April and we had very favorable conditions for getting good growth out of these young trees. In a perfect world we want to get two foot of growth out of the tree in the first year. We achieved this on nearly 3/4ths of the trees planted this year. I am hoping that by implementing some of the things I will be talking about today will help us get another 2 foot of growth this year!
Last year after the trees were planted, we made the effort of tying down any branches (pictured above) so they are less than horizontal. We try to get the branches pointed downward at approximately a 45 degree angle. Doing this will promote central leader growth and early spur development so we can get an earlier cropping tree. There are many things you can use to tie limbs down with (twine, avi strap, rubber bands, etc.) and on this particular tree we used a very small gauge wire. You want to make sure when you do tie the limb down you do NOT wrap the wire around the tree or limb but instead use a U-shaped hook as pictured. Using the U-shaped hook will allow the tree to grow without interrupting the normal growth of the limb.
This year, a corrective action we need to do is get a support system in place for the leader…other than our hand holding it in place. 😉
Just like tying limbs down, there are many things you can use to accomplish a support system for the central leader. Some depend on the kind of trellis system you have, but for ours we have decided to use bamboo stakes. I ordered 6 foot long bamboo stakes this year with pole clips to attach to the wire that already exists.
(Pictured: Pole Clips & Rubber bands)
The main purpose for having this support system is to ensure the leader of the tree grows straight up and that the weight of any apple(s) that are produced towards the top of the tree, do not bend or break the leader. Once the bamboo stake is in place using the pole clips, I will then use a rubber band to tie the leader to the bamboo stake. Depending on the tree, I may tie the tree in two to four places.