Good Fruit Grower

December 2013

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WHY fruiting walls? erence Robinson says there are a number of advantages to fruiting walls: • Narrow fruiting walls can be thinned and harvested from platforms, partially mechanizing that process and getting ladders out of orchards. • Summer hedging can greatly reduce dormant pruning and eliminate summer pruning by hand. • Summer pruning does not induce a vigorous growth response. Instead, a bud forms where the twigs are cut, and often that is a flower bud or a small shoot that will produce a flower bud the next year. • Fruit color is improved because of greater light penetration of the narrower canopy. —R. Lehnert T Critiques Consider for your next planting: Brand Dwarfing Cherry Rootstock Krymsk®5 BENEFITS: [cv. VSL-2, USPP 15,723] • Disease tolerant • Cold hardy • Adapts well to all cherry-growing districts • Forms flower buds and comes into bearing quicker than Mazzard with a better distribution of flower buds Krymsk®6 [cv. LC-52, USPP 16,114] Roots available for SPRING DELIVERY Call Tree Connection: 800-421-4001 "Krymsk® 5 and Krymsk® 6 cherry rootstocks have proven to be the best rootstock for our orchards. They are yield efficient, grow and adapt well, and are cold hardy." —John Morton The Dalles, Oregon 503-538-2131 • FAX: 503-538-7616 • BRUCE PONDER 22 DECEMBER 2013 GOOD FRUIT GROWER • SUSAN WILKINSON • ADAM WEIL Robinson, in his perfection of the tall spindle system, has developed a set of rules and goals, and is offering a steak dinner to growers who are able to meet the goal of obtaining a cumulative yield of 3,000 bushels of apples per acre by the end of the fifth leaf. To do that, growers need to harvest 15 to 20 apples per tree in the second leaf. Two thousand 100-count apples from 1,000 trees give 200 bushels per acre in second leaf. They'll need to get 400 bushels in third leaf, and 1,200 in the fourth and fifth leaves, to reach 3,000. The Thomes recorded their production on their Brookfield Galas planted in 2007 on M.9-337 rootstock: They got 100 bushels per acre in 2008, 327 in 2009, 490 in 2010, 1,063 in 2011, 327 in the big freeze year of 2012, and are predicting 1,200 this year. The Thomes' trellis posts are about 23 feet apart. They started out at 45 feet but needed to add support. Robinson recommends 30 feet. Robinson couldn't criticize the spacing. With trees three feet apart in rows 11 feet apart, the Thomes meet Robinson's recommendation of alleys no wider than 12 feet—for any reason. A spacing of 3 by 11 feet—33 square feet per tree—yields a tree population of 1,290 per acre, each capable of producing from one to 1.2 bushels per tree, especially with irrigation, which the Thomes have, and fertigation, which they have yet to implement. One hundred twenty apples per tree would give them 1,548 bushels per acre, a number Robinson thinks growers will be able to make. He's thinking of raising his five-year yield goal. Tree training As the Ridgefest tour moved on to Windy Ridge Orchards, owned by Chuck and Sue Rasch and family, Robinson got a chance to reiterate some of his pruning and training advice in a 2013 planting of Aztec Fuji and Jonastar Jonagold on Geneva 11 rootstock. (Robinson loved the rootstock choice.) Rasch had chosen to stub back some of the larger feathers on the new trees and tie down others. Tie down everything, cut nothing, Robinson advises, and never head a tree, even if it's not feathered and is just a whip. Such trees need a rubdown or spray with MaxCel (6-benzyladenine) to induce branching, but should not be headed to induce branching. Either heading back or planting whips will set the grower back a year and won't win the steak dinner. "If you invest more time early to bend the branches down, you need do that only once, and you won't have to intervene for three more years before you need to prune," he said. "More tying down means more fruit earlier," Schwallier added. "Remember that more pruning means less fruit." • • DAVE WEIL

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