Thursday, May 22, 2008

Beginning a New Season

It's 2008 and a new season has begun for us. I'm getting a late start in keeping everything up to date, just like the weather is getting a late start. Its almost the end of May and we have not had a night above 50 degrees yet. That means we were not able to get our oil spray on and the trees are now at petal fall. We only got about 1/4 of our copper spray on, but we have been able to keep our scab and fireblight sprays up to date. Yesterday we applied Apogee to control shoot growth to hopefully over come the fireblight we experienced last season.

We have planted over 1,000 new trees again this spring, adding Pristine to our variety mix. All of our new trees are on M9 or EMLA9 and BUD9 rootstocks. I'm training them to the tall spindle system as seen in the photo. The great thing aboput this planting system is that you can get 4 to 5 times the trees to the acre as with a central leader system and there is minimal pruning.

I will post our 2008 spray protocol within the next few days with our new Codling Moth program outlined that we had so much success with last season. Until then...


At 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I plan on utilizing this system in a new planting at our small orchard. What sort of ground prep did you do? any cover cropping?

I have a very small orchard, about 2.5 acres, with half of it planted in central leader trees that are about 20 years old. The plan is to plant an acre of trees on this system and then start removing the old trees.

Also, what sort of anchors and posts are you using for the trelis? I have tried to find as much info on the web as I can, but answers to specific questions are sometimes hard to find.

Tatum Stewart
Stewart Orchard

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Orchard Keeper said...


It sounds like you are planning to do exactly what we are doing, although on a smaller scale. We have been removing between 500 and 1,000 trees per season since 2004. That equates to 4 to 8 rows of trees per season. We are removing trees that were planted on about 10' centers and going with 4' centers on B9 rootstock. We're using a 10' trellis, but installing them with 3 wires, the first at 2', the second at 6' and the third at 10'. For a good guide on support systems go to

We are using the Stay Brace Assembly on the posts with a 3' post 2' in the ground instead of the stay block.

After removing the old trees, we let the empty row sit for 1 year and add Agro-Neemcake mixed with mycorrhizal fungi at planting time. We have not used a cover crop as yet, but plan to do so this year.

I'll post some photos as soon as the weather clears and I can get some good shots. If I can be of further assistance, don't hesitate to contact me!

At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I am concerned about is vigor. The reference material I have found deals mostly with northern growing areas. I have a long growing season here in Tn. Last frost date is around April 1 and first frost is around mid-October. I was planning on using 4' spacing, but I wonder if I will need to increase the spacing for the expected higher vigor.

I bought this land about 6 years ago simply for the house. The orchard had been neglected for about 10-15 years or more. The trees are at 10'x18', so I think they are M-26, but some of them were over 25' tall. For three years I conducted massive prunning with very little fruit. I had expected my first full crop last year, but the freeze got everything.

I am looking good this year, with a heavy bloom and fruit set. However, chemical thinning is very nerve-racking the first time you do it.

Thanks for all your help and for your posts on NAFEX.

Tatum Stewart
Stewart Orchard

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Orchard Keeper said...

If you use a Bud9 rootstock, vigor will probably not be an issue for you. Bud9 is a much less vigorous rootstock and often needs additional nitrogen to produce the desired amount of new growth.

At 4:14 PM, Anonymous MSS said...

That's a really beautiful photo!

As for B9, I can attest to its lack of vigor. I do get a lot of fruit for the tree size, however.


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