High-density orchards allow for more efficient utilization of labor, as the trees are smaller, and it is easier to conduct routine orchard operations. However, the initial establishment of the orchard requires a greater investment in labor for tree planting and installing posts or trellises to support the trees. Also, the initial training is generally detailed as regards limb orientation and arrangement and can be laborintensive. Overall, intensive systems require higher managerial skills than low-density orchards.
Once established, high-density orchards with smaller trees require less labor per unit of fruit produced than low-density orchards. Smaller trees and readily accessible canopies are easier to harvest, and the need for using and transporting ladders is minimized or eliminated. The ability to harvest most of the fruit from ground level is also valuable in pick-your-own operations where the absence of ladders reduces concerns of liability. Pruning is less labor-intensive in many systems, and the trees are easier to manage, provided plant growth is regulated by early and regular cropping.
Pest control in high-density orchards is facilitated because tree canopies are smaller and in many systems (especially trellised ones) are not very deep. This allows enhanced spray penetration into the canopy and reduces the need for large orchard spray equipment. Studies on spray deposits have shown that the coverage of spray materials on the leaf surfaces of trellised and nontrellised high-density trees is better than on standard trees. This, however, varies with the training system. For example, horizontal canopies have reduced spray penetration compared to vertical ones and consequently may have higher insect and disease damage.
Before selecting a specific intensive orchard system, a grower should develop clear goals, prepare a marketing plan, and conduct a cost-benefit analysis. The initial investment will vary depending on planting density, the need for tree supports, and establishment costs associated with the training system selected. Systems that produce early, have a good return on investment, and are easier to manage are essential to ensuring a profitable enterprise.
Related Topics: DWARFING; LIGHT INTERCEPTION AND PHOTOSYNTHESIS; ROOTSTOCK SELECTION; TRAINING AND PRUNING PRINCIPLES; TRAINING SYSTEMS
Barritt, B. H. (1992). Intensive orchard management. Yakima, WA: Good Fruit Grower.
Baugher T. A., H. W. Hogmire, A. R. Biggs, G. W. Lightner, S. I. Walter, D. W. Leach, andT. Winfield (1996). Packout audits of apples from five orchard management systems. HortTechnol. 6:34-41. Byers, R. E., H. W. Hogmire, D. C. Ferree, F. R. Hall, and S. J. Donahue (1989). Spray chemical deposits in high-density and trellis apple orchards. HortScience 24:918.
Corelli-Grappadelli, L. (2001). Peach training systems in Italy. Penn. Fruit News 81:89-95.
1. INSECTS AND MITES 2. IRRIGATION
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