The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

High density apple training

high density apple orchard technique for the backyard grower

We got 4 more 10 foot high density apple stakes installed today. I could only squeeze 5 in the car and that had to be done with PVC sticking out the back window on both sides. The plan is to pick up the other 5 next week.

High density apple training involves securing the trunk of the tree to the stake every 15 inches. We threaded some 14 gauge galvanized wire through pieces of old water hose to protect the trunk.

I drilled 1/4 inch holes through the PVC and the inner metal fence post and then threaded the wire through the hole in a figure 8 fashion.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Typically the graft union (dogleg) on the rootstock faces south in high density orchard. I notice you have your dogleg in different directions which may increase sun scald on the graft union.

South <--- | | Scion | | \ \ \ \ Graft Union | | | | Rootstock

I have never seen PVC used to support a tree. On a small scale such as yours it's usually EMT conduit at 3/4" or 1". I understand the method you used to erect the pole but PVC is brittle in cold temperatures and flexes in hot temperatures. I'll be interested to see how long these work for you.

The pruning for high density is to grow a central leader tree . Then prune laterals off the central leader tree with a bevel cut every 2-3 years (Renewal pruning). No lateral should be more than 1/2 the diameter of the central leader. You definitely have some laterals to cut off in this picture. Bending will help to remove dominance.

Anyways just my 2 cents and everyone has their own preference so no way is right. I'll check back to see how the PVC holds up.

Comment by BSmith Mon Nov 19 16:39:08 2012

BSmith --- I read about sun scald a lot, but have never seen it on any of our plants. My understanding is that you get it a lot in the winter especially, but our plants barely get any sunlight in the winter because the sun drops behind the hill. Could be the dwarfs will prove me wrong, but for now, I'm not terribly worried.

The PVC is much more experimental. We'll be sure to report back when or if it fails.

About the pruning --- the reading I've done suggests that there are at least two or three methods used in high density orchards, and each one has its own pruning method. I did see the method you mention in print --- can't remember if it was for super spindle, maybe? At the moment, I'm attempting to follow the tall spindle method, but may tweak my methodology later if it's not working.

Comment by anna Mon Nov 19 18:11:08 2012

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