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Designing Apple Trees to Capture Sunlight Energy for Producing Money Sized Apples

Author: Joseph Costante

Journal: "The Apple Press" published by the University of Vermont vol 18, no 1, pp. 9-10


No matter where you are producing apples or how you are marketing the crop, the present top priorities in this business are larger-sized, well-conditioned, crunchy, and flavorful apples. Although there are vast differences around the country on growing apples, two essential ingredients that orchard operations must possess are:

1.) consistently productive sites and

2.) profitable management capabilities, especially in tree design.

When executing tree design programs, consider integrating the necessary pruning steps based on the amount of sunshine and cumulative heat units available during the growing season. Following is a perception on how you might direct tree design efforts to produce quality apples in different climates.

Factors Affecting Tree Design

Maintaining profitable orchards in northern latitudes has become increasingly difficult with the advent of high density plantings. Consider that there are only a limited but critical number of sunny days, cool pre-harvest nights and necessary heat units available in any one year. Rain fall in many areas is not as abundant as it once was, while premium orchard sites are few and far between (more keep falling prey to development). Such stressful conditions mean that you must extract every possible advantage from your orchard.

Southern or warmer apple areas are blessed with more than adequate sunshine and heat units. Training and pruning practices must focus on protecting fruit against sunscald injury and maintaining an adequate water supply in all tree parts.

Growers in other areas can combine and extrapolate the information they need from the following. No matter where you grow apples, it boils down to the fact that the size and shape of your trees are what determine the efficiency and benefits provided by sunlight. Obviously, properly designed dwarf trees will make the most efficient use of sunlight as demonstrated in Figure I (taken from the manual, "Training and Pruning Apple Trees. by C.G. Forshey, D.C. Elfving, and R.L. Stebbins, ASHS, 1992).

Orchards in Northern Latitudes

Orchards in Southern Latitudes

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