Thursday, March 03, 2011

More on Tall Spindle Systems

It is that time of the year when apple growers are pruning their orchards and planning for the upcoming season.  New trees being added to the orchard usually start arriving the first week of April or there about, depending on the growing zone of the grower.  We are in Zone 5 here at Royal Oak Farm and our new trees will be arriving the first week of April.  As we prepare for the arrival of those trees, we have to consider which planting system we will be using as will other growers around the country.

 zestar_tall_spindleZestar trees planted to the Tall Spindle System 4’ on center w/ 4 wire trellis to 9’

At Royal Oak Farm we have chosen the newer Tall Spindle growing system as have many other growers around the country.  We have been planting to this system for several years now and have around 5,000 trees being trained to this system at present with several thousand coming down the line in the future.  Fortunately, as this system becomes more and more popular, more and more information is becoming available for growers on the Tall Spindle growing system.


An entire web site,Tall Spindle Apple: All about the tall-spindle apple…Links to resources for growing a tall-spindle apple orchard has now been devoted to resources for the Tall Spindle system and can be found at  The site has been assembled by Jon Clements, an Extension Educator at  UMass Amherst and has links to just about every resources out there on Tall Spindle.  Don’t forget to check out Jon’s videos as well, especially those on pruning Tall Spindle trees.


As always, feel free to contact me anytime at Royal Oak Farm Orchard. Happy growing!!


At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


A few newbie questions for you on your beautiful planting.
-Do you plant with a tree planter, auger or other method?
-Your end-post system looks great. How many ft. are your posts in the ground? Have you considered reversing the order of your end-post and short brace block, then using wire to complete the triangular brace. In NY and they seem to have predominantly gone to this method eliminating the timber diagonal brace. Thanks again for the blog post. - Jim

At 5:26 PM, Blogger Orchard Keeper said...

Hello Jim!!

When planting our new trees, we mark each new tree location every 4' with 1 cupful of 13-13-13 fertilizer as we go down the tree row. We follow that up with our Bobcat skid-steer loader using a 12" auger to drill each hole about 12 to 18" deep. This mixes the fertilizer into the spoil from digging and gives us good loose soil to put back around the tree. We use the same soil rather than adding any special mix to the soil.

We used to reverse the order of our end post, but because we are a U-Pick orchard, we did not want any trellis wire placed so a visitor could get harmed by it. We changed all our end posts about three years ago tot he system you see in the photo. We now use 12' posts with 3' in the ground and partially fill each post hole with Sakrete ready mix concrete to eliminate frost heave in the winter. We also loosen all trellis wires at the end of each season to eliminate any issues caused by heavy frost in the ground that could cause damage to trees. Our drip irrigation line is attached to the bottom trellis wire which is set at about 3' above the soil line. Hope this helps!!

At 9:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dennis,

I am in the planning stages of a new pick your own operation. I currently have a small, non PYO orchard which I have run since 2002. I really like the benefits of the Tall Spindle system, but I am concerned with customer acceptance. I am thinking of having two separate orchards. One freestanding on g-30 or M-7 for PYO, and a production orchard not open to the public in the tall-spindle system. What is your experience with people wishing to pick at a "traditional" orchard.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences!

Tatum Stewart
Stewart Orchard
Ashland City, Tn

At 9:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dennis,

I do not think my first comment was posted, so I will try again. I would love to pick your brain for a couple of hours as I am in the planning stages for a PYO orchard near Nashville. The first plantings will be on about 5 acres. I am trying to decide if I want to go with the entire orchard (12-15 acres) in Tall Spindle, or to plant a freestanding m7-g30 on about 2 acres. I think that people expect a PYO to have larger trees. What is your experience with customers adapting to the tall spindle system? Do you have much damage to the trees from the customers?

I have posted questions to you before about the central leader peach plantings. I am very happy with our Perp-V system and think I will use it in the PYO Orchard, however, what is your feelings on the central leader system now that you have a couple of season on it?

Thanks for the blog.

Tatum Stewart
Stewart Orchard

At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Tree Removal Brooklyn said...

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-Samudaworth Tree Service


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