This spring we planted 300 new trees at Kimmel Orchard. These trees were planted based on the tall spindle model that I had written about in a previous blog post. Some of these trees were intended to be planted last year but with a shortage from the nurseries we received the trees this year and planted them yesterday. These trees were planted in the same block we started to fill last year. With the additional 300 trees, we are getting a little closer to completing the newest block of tall spindle trees at Kimmel Orchard.
The trees that were planted this year arrived last week. After marking our rows we will go through with our Bobcat and dig up each hole where the trees are to be planted. From there the guys will be following close behind to put the trees into the ground. With these dwarf trees we want the graft union to be 4-6 inches out of the ground and the roots are well spaced. They will fill dirt in around the tree and then compact the dirt as best as possible.
Once all of the trees are planted like this we will work very quickly to get the trellis or support system up. In a previous blog post I had written on the style of trellis system we like to use. The trellis system is extremely important for these trees. The trellis system can be viewed as an investment, rather than just an establishment cost. The reason behind that is a good, tall, and strong trellis system will help these young trees grow straight and tall without breaking due to the weight of any fruit set or natural causes such as wind.
After you have the trees in the ground and the trellis system up we are not completely done yet. Next we will do something called branch manipulation, or bending of the branches below horizontal. This will help eliminate these side branches from competing with the leader for the most growth while also promoting an early crop set. We will also irrigate these trees throughout the summer to help them grow. In a perfect world we would like to see these trees reach the top wire after the second year and no later than the third year.
It is very important for us at Kimmel Orchard to continue planting new trees each year so we can continue to provide our guests with a great opportunity to learn where their food comes from and how it is grown. We also enjoy seeing people taking a great interest in learning the evolution of these fruit trees. This way of planting trees differs so much from when Mr. Kimmel first established the orchard 90 years ago and I am sure 90 years from now there will be unthinkable ways to produce apples.