Strategies To Improve Growth And Yield In The Early Life Of A Tall Spindle Apple Planting

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The success of a new high-density apple planting depends on how fast the grower can recoup the high investment that these systems require. That is why it is imperative to get new plantings into production as early as possible and recoup the costs of establishment in the first five years. In order to achieve high early yields, the grower needs to find the right balance between vegetative growth and cropping during the early life of the planting where trees grow adequately to fill the allotted space at the same time produce good early crops. In this study we evaluated several management strategies to improve growth and yield, and to find the right balance between them. These results will improve understanding how to manage these intensive systems in the most profitable way. In 2009, an orchard with five varieties (Crispin, 'Gala', 'Honeycrisp', 'Jonagold' and 'Macoun') on M.9 size rootstocks was planted at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, NY. In this experiment we compared the use of calcium nitrate at the rate of (113 kg N/ha) applied through fertigation, broadcast with no irrigation and broadcast with irrigation. We evaluated the use of biostimulants and plastic mulch and compared the use of unbranched nursery trees (whips), with nursery trees having 5 and 10 feathers, with the lateral branches managed at a natural angle or positioned below horizontal. Our results showed that fertigation and irrigation increased yield and tree growth compared to the unirrigated treatment. The use of biostimulants did not have any effect on tree growth or yield with the exception of 'Honeycrisp'. Plastic mulch increased yield in 'Honeycrisp' and 'Jonagold' but there was no improvement in growth or yield with the other varieties. Bending the feathers below horizontal increased yield early in the life of the planting especially for more vigorous varieties with upright growth.
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Robinson,Terence Lee
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Setter,Timothy Lloyd
Merwin,Ian Alexander
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Horticultural Biology
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M.S., Horticultural Biology
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Master of Science
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