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vertical axis planting

Posted by Marsha Lindner 
vertical axis planting
December 09, 2012 10:00PM
I would like to know more about vertical axis planting. Other that higher crop yields and ease of maintenance, are there other benefits to this system? What are the negative aspects? My orchard is already established but is this a method to recommend to a new orchardist?
Re: vertical axis planting
June 29, 2013 07:40AM
Most of our orchard at Kalangadoo was established as vertical axis trees 15 to 17 years ago. Tree spacing is 4 metres x 2 metres for MM106 rootstock, and 4 metres x 1.5 metres for M7 rootstock. We found a narrow, two dimensional wall about 2.4 metres high to be an efficient system in terms of labour, air circulation, spray coverage and light penetration.

Our hedgerows run north-south, but sunburn was a problem on the western side where the three o'clock sun reached the apples on the hottest days. For this reason, we think it would be better to run the rows about 30 degrees west of north (west of south on your side of the equator) to point at the three o'clock sun.

We had four pairs of horizontal limbs coming from each trunk at approx. 0.6, 1.2, 1.8 and 2.4 metres above ground level. The trees were basically an espalier. The main fault we found with the system was the tree's propensity to throw up strong vertical shoots from the horizontal limbs. We were forever having to cut these off; we felt we were getting too much vegetative growth at the expense of fruit production.

Over the past four years, we have been converting the trees to a more "spindle" design. With a chainsaw we have been removing two or three of the strongest horizontal limbs each year, and replacing them with weaker limbs tied with strings to below the horizontal. The trees are now more three dimensional, but from above they would look more oval than round, because with a 4 metre row spacing they can't be too wide or we wouldn't be able to get the tractor through without causing a lot of damage.

These downward hanging limbs are "single - lined", meaning all side shoots longer than a handspan are removed. We are now finding less pruning is required, hand thinning is much quicker and there seems to be less of a problem with biennial bearing. All round it seems much better than our previous vertical axis system, but admittedly it is a big job pulling down and tying all those branches.

Kalangadoo Orchard
On the “other side” in South Australia
Re: vertical axis planting
August 02, 2013 08:54PM
Kalangadoo, would it be possible to see photos or diagrams of the original training technique, the problem, and then how you modified?

Fruitilicious Farm
Zone 9b in California
Re: vertical axis planting
August 05, 2013 07:16AM
Will try to find/take a few photos in the next day or two.

Kalangadoo Orchard
On the “other side” in South Australia
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