BREEDING COLUMNAR APPLES AT EAST MALLING
Such trees could be used in very intensive orchards, planted unstaked a metre or less apart within and between rows with just occasional alleyways. Reasonable crops per tree would give high early yields per hectare, the trees would need minimal pruning, and they could be picked by hand and managed with conventional machinery.
For such orchards to be feasible it is desirable to combine columnar habit with certain other characteristics: easy propagation by hardwood cuttings to reduce tree cost; resistance to the soil-borne disorder collar rot; good fruit quality; and regular heavy bearing on own roots. Parents are chosen, crosses made and selection procedures developed and applied accordingly. Several advanced selections have been planted in replicated high-density trials on their own roots.
In the nearer future columnar types could prove useful as space-saving pollinators in orchards of conventional maincrop varieties, as fruiting trees for the amateur, and as ornamentals for private or public gardens.
Four promising selections intended primarily for the amateur are being propagated for release.