THE DEVELOPMENT OF INTENSIVE ORCHARDS IN ENGLAND A HISTORICAL NOTE

C.D. Walker
Although apples have been cultivated in England for over 1500 years little attempt was made to control tree size until after the introduction of Paradise rootstocks from France in the 17th Century. Subsequent development led to the replacement of standard trees by the bush orchard but truly commercial high density orchards did not appear until after 1920, following East Malling Research Station's initial work on rootstock identification. Many of these early attempts in intensive apple production failed because fruit growers used over vigorous rootstocks and relied on detailed summer pruning with a high labour input. Dwarf bush orchards using M9 were far more successful.

After 1946 the English fruit grower continued to favour the medium vigour bush tree, partly because the main English dessert variety Cox's Orange Pippin proved difficult to control under intensive conditions. However by 1960 the concept of the hedgerow orchard was established and with a better knowledge of growth control high density systems began to be planted.

Today the majority of the new English dessert apple orchards are based on one of two systems. The M9 orchard using about 1200 trees/ha or the semi-intensive MM106 orchard using about 600 trees/ha. In both cases centre leader training is used.

No one system of apple production can ever provide the ideal solution for all circumstances. Each orchard presents its own particular problems where the `fruit grower's resources in terms of money and managerial skills must be properly integrated.

Walker, C.D. (1981). THE DEVELOPMENT OF INTENSIVE ORCHARDS IN ENGLAND A HISTORICAL NOTE. Acta Hortic. 114, 309-317
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1981.114.43
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.1981.114.43

Acta Horticulturae