Orchard Design And Tree Quality

Substantial thought should be given to orchard design. Important considerations are canopy light interception and distribution to flowers and fruit. Research in temperate regions shows that trees grown in north-south oriented rows have better light conditions than those grown in east-west rows. Decreasing the distance between rows and increasing tree height also increases light interception. With most tree forms, optimum tree height is half the row spacing plus 1 meter. Maximizing production per hectare by planting trees in high densities requires careful assessment of the vigor potential of a site. It is helpful to evaluate tree size in a previous orchard or in an adjacent block. Other factors that affect decisions on tree arrangement include topography, equipment size, and worker access.

To obtain the scion/rootstock combinations best suited to an orchard plan, growers order trees two to three years ahead of planting. Ordering virus-tested trees with a strong root system ensures a good start for a sustainable production system. Well-feathered trees are desirable for early cropping, intensive systems. Windbreak trees, if needed, and pollinizer trees also should be ordered early. Studies indicate that the best trees for windbreaks are alders (Alnus), willows (Salix), or other deciduous species that leaf out early in the spring and hold leaves past harvest time. Fruit tree bloom periods vary from one region to another, and it is wise to get local advice on pollinizers.

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