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Bamboo for 3-wire Trellis construction for Tall Spindle System

Posted by Jordan Statz 
Bamboo for 3-wire Trellis construction for Tall Spindle System
August 08, 2013 02:16PM
This coming year we are purchasing another 1.5 acres for the orchard. I'm interested in doing a higher density planting in this area using a slightly modified version of the tall spindle system while applying the practices of the holistic approach. Our goal is to use bamboo as the primary support and in-line for the trellis.

Reasons being: 1.) Extremely economical compared to untreated posts. 2.) Rapidly renewable resource. 3.) We're designating .5 acre as a bamboo grove and can use our own grown materials to build future structures and generate another source of income (bamboo packing hut anyone?)

My initial plan for each is 6' x 4" bamboo pole set in concrete or driven 4-5' into the ground at 45 degree angle with 3, 12.5 gauge wires run. The end post would be a 10' x 4" bamboo pole set in concrete or driven 4' in at an angle <45 degrees. From there every 30ft there would be a 8' x 3' in line bamboo post, wire attached with wire trellis clips at 30", 20", and 20" from the bottom. Each trellis would be approximately 184' long with 6 in line posts. Tree spacing would be approximately 4-5 feet with a mix of heavy and low vigor varieties in each row planted most likely (or perhaps, most hopefully) on G.41 or G.11 rootstock. The soil is extremely fertile silty clay loam here in Elk Horn, Iowa. The land is a slight 2-18 degree slope running from west to east - trellis would be placed running north to south at a 30 degree west offset (to avoid wind damage... anyone who has ever drove on I80 through Iowa knows what I'm talking about). Trees will be planted in a sort of bermed/hugelkultur fashion.

Are there any glaringly obvious design flaws here? Have any of you used bamboo in this fashion? Any recommendations for running a wire trellis like this? Basically, am I crazy to try this?

Liberty Labs, Inc. Orchard
Zone 5a - Elk Horn, Iowa

"ab ovo usque ad mala"



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/08/2013 05:21PM by Jordan Statz.
Re: Bamboo for 3-wire Trellis construction for Tall Spindle System
June 01, 2014 01:04AM
Jordan,

So did you end up implementing this type of trellis system? I don't think it's crazy personally, but hey I have some strange ideas myself. I'd like to hear more if you did indeed go with this system. In the climate I'm in I can grow bamboo and will as a building material.

I need to replace my trellis system for a dwarf orchard and have been contemplating black locust for longevity but it will take a long while until I can harvest post sized trees. Bamboo could be more of a reasonable wait time. Currently I do have 1" diameter bamboo growing but I am looking to transplant some larger varieties.

Nick Segner

Wildcat Valley Farm
Zone 8b
Olympic Peninsula Rainshadow
Port Angeles, Washington
Re: Bamboo for 3-wire Trellis construction for Tall Spindle System
June 01, 2014 02:24AM
Jordan,

I found this article that does reference bamboo poles used in high density dwarf apple plantings in Nova Scotia: [www.perennia.ca]

Nick Segner

Wildcat Valley Farm
Zone 8b
Olympic Peninsula Rainshadow
Port Angeles, Washington
Re: Bamboo for 3-wire Trellis construction for Tall Spindle System
June 01, 2014 09:50AM
I am in Nova Scotia, and have seen the trellis systems described in the Perrenia sheet. It is critical to appeciate that the bamboo stakes are not the primary support here at all. The trellises are 10 ft high , supported with heavy posts (at ends and every 50 ft.), with high tensile steel wires stretched between posts. The bamboo (or electrical conduit) stakes are simply to provide support to the spindly trunks, like a splint. They don't provide any support from bending at the ground level. Each tree is fastened to a stake, which in turn is fastened to each wire all the way up. The arms of the tree, in turn are tied to the wires. All the support is provided by the posts and wires; the stakes just keep the tree straight, and keep the leader growing straight up. And when they talk about over-building, they are serious - these trellises are heavy duty. No bamboo would possibly provide the strength needed here. (But we are talking 10 ft. high trellises, in an area with deep frosts in winter, and winds sometimes reaching 60 or 80 miles an hour.)
It is also noteworthy just how they manage these systems: the bottom cordon is left intact, but each level above is pruned back periodically, (I didn't pay attention to how often), to provide "renewal" growth, much along the same lines as pruning grapes - chop back the branch to a vigorous shoot, which is then bent down to form the new branch extension.

Broomholm Orchard
Zone 5b in Nova Scotia
Re: Bamboo for 3-wire Trellis construction for Tall Spindle System
June 02, 2014 01:04PM
David,

Thanks for the clarification. The dwarf orchard we inherited with our property uses electrical conduit for staking each tree. Your explanation helps me understand why someone would ever do this: the conduit was never meant to support the weight of the trees. The end posts in our orchard have failed long ago and now we have many bent conduit poles and toppling rows. I have been thinking about a stronger material for the tree stakes but now I see that once I replace the end posts I can replace the conduit and it should be sufficient until the next round of post failures.

Our trees are "S" shaped central leaders with lateral branching and not of the cordon style. The previous owner must have been using the conduit in the same way though to train the central leader back and forth upon itself. Now that the trees are established (20 years or so), would you say that might not need stakes for individual trees? Of course I can't get rid of the trellis altogether (even though I'd like to) and I will still need to train new lateral growth to the right angles..

Nick Segner

Wildcat Valley Farm
Zone 8b
Olympic Peninsula Rainshadow
Port Angeles, Washington
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