COSTS OF PRUNING AND HARVESTING IN SPACING TRIALS WITH APPLE ON M 9

G. Engel
The highest labour costs in apple culture are caused by pruning, picking, and marketing. Therefore great effort is made by growers to reduce these costs using modern plant systems, particularly single row spindles on M 9 with increasing tree density. Spacing trials conducted in Klein-Altendorf Experimental Station for 10 years now showed that tree number per ha is limited by fruit quality as well as by labour costs.

With increasing numbers of trees per ha, even with slender-type trees, more time is needed for training and particularly for harvest.

Comparing plots with the same numbers of trees planted at different spacings we could show that the time needed for harvesting depends largely on between-row spacing. Doubling of tree numbers from 1 343 to 2 647 per ha increased pruning time by 45 % with Golden Delicious and Cox Orange 5 to 10 years from planting. The shape of trees was obviously of minor importance. Yield was abour 50 tons per ha with Golden Delicious and 30 tons with Cox Orange. The amount of apples picked per hour increased by 45 % with trees spaced at 3.9 by 1.7 m as compared with spacing them 3 by 1.5 m. With same numbers of trees per ha picking costs increased by 20 % when between-row spacing was reduced by 0.15 m. No crop reduction was observed when trees were spaced 3.9 by 1.7 m instead of 3.4 by 1 or 1.5 m. At plant distances of 3.9 by 1.7 it is important that each tree fills the space provided. This aim can be reached by training the trees with a central leader and two branches at the base diagonal to the rows.

Colour, particularly with red varieties, was improved in most years. The advantage of moderate density planting could clearly be shown if not only yield would be compared with that of high density planting but also the percentage of fruits meeting the standard of superior marketing quality. For best results in apple culture therefore, orchards shouldn`t be planted with extreme density. Climatic as well as soil conditions and the behaviour of varieties should always be considered.

Engel, G. (1981). COSTS OF PRUNING AND HARVESTING IN SPACING TRIALS WITH APPLE ON M 9. Acta Hortic. 114, 387-387
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1981.114.55
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.1981.114.55

Acta Horticulturae