THE FRESH MARKET PEACH MEADOW ORCHARD: THE MECHANIZED AND THE INTENSIVE HIGH-YIELD SYSTEMS
The second approach was directed toward the small family farm. It was based on similar densities but with a separation between the time of fruit harvest and of tree pruning. The tree was developed with two main arms, each of which was pruned to the lowest 10 cm basal stump in alternate winters. Thus, a bearing arm was present alongside a growing arm that will carry the next year's crop. By separating the bearing arm from the growing one, mechanical harvesting by cutting the entire canopy was not possible, but yields were significantly increased, fruit maturation was advanced by a few days, and the limitation of growing only precocious cultivars was removed.
The performance of a few precocious peach and nectarine cultivars was followed during the last 4 years, over three cropping seasons. In comparison with trees in a conventional orchard, fruit color was superior to that of the same cultivar, peach fruit size was similar, and maturation was delayed by only a few days. Annual yields of between 19.5 and 41.6 t/ha were obtained with the mechanized system, and of between 26.0 and 67.6 t/ha with the high-yield intensive system, depending on cultivar and fruiting year.