An ever-growing orchard means adding more trees each year. The increase in trees planted each year here at Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard will bring more apples in years to come. Our trees will start producing more apples within 2-3 years. This time spent waiting for apple trees to bear fruit has decreased in the past couple of decades. How have plant managers been able to change the life cycle of an apple tree?
At Kimmel, a high-density system of apple tree planting has been put into place. This system places each apple tree approximately 3 ft apart from the other. In the old system of planting, each tree would be placed 5-7 ft apart. This difference in planting allows more trees to be grown in the same area. This tighter environment also trains trees to grow upwards instead of outwards. This upward growth prevents the trees from fighting for sunlight and nutrients in the soil. Training systems are used on the trees to help them bear fruit quicker than traditional planting techniques. We use a central leader training system. One tree can yield up to 500 apples in peak conditions. This means, in 2-3 years these new trees will start producing 270 apples each.
High-density planting may be a possibility for your home garden. Take advantage of the space in between your rows by adding rows of new plants. By adding new rows to empty space, you can complete the same job in less space. In any form of high-density planting, it is important to make sure all roots have enough room to gather nutrients from the soil. Therefore, it’s important to research the needs of each plant to make sure they are still spaced out enough to promote growth.
Trying new ways of planting to see which works best in our environment is important to do at Kimmel. High-density of planting is currently the most successful way of planting, but continually researching is important as there may be a better technique just waiting to be discovered!