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Fruit tree spacing?

Posted by Raw_Nature 6 NE OH (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 8, 13 at 20:37

Hello folks! This is my first post! Although I am a new member, Gardenweb has been my go to for any garden related questions for quite some time. I just want to briefly thank all of you for sharing your knowledge, gardening wouldn't be the same without you! We need more people like you guys! Anyways, lets get to business! I am interested in growing fruit trees. I am growing them for maximum yield, i could care less about convenience, machinery,etc. I would like to grow apples,pears,peaches, cherries, plums, and maybe more in other sections of my small yard... I have an area 7x30 running parallel with east/west. Im not sure if I should go for dwarf,semi, or what? Another thing is spacing, I'm a small man, I don't need room for lawnmowers,etc. I am looking for maximum yield for the space. any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Raw_Nature,
Various people will give different answers.According to the guys at Dave Wilson Nursery,standard,semi dwarf or dwarf doesn't matter much.They all can be kept as short as a person wants.
So,being a small man,their strategy may very well work for your situation. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Backyard Orchard Culture


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Brady, I understand everyone has their own opinions. I'm NOT to concerned about height ofthe tree as a am width. I have as much height as the tree wants, it the width thats restricting. I am very familiar with Dave wilsons BYOC methods... But, I haven't found anyone that actually had real experience with it.... I did watch all his videos on YouTube... I was hoping that someone with experience could tell me how many fruit trees I could cram in the space for maximum yield, and what size fruit trees to go with? I understand it's all different opinions, but I'm looking for experience to break loose the opinions and get to fact.. How do I maximize yield of fruit trees with a 7x30 space? Thanks
-Joe


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Do some research into tall spindle or slender spindle methods, used especially for apples. Basically you get dwarf trees, planting them just a couple feet apart, keeping the branches tied down to promote fruiting. Dwarfs never get too tall plus they fruit in about the 3rd year as opposed to bigger trees that might take 5 or 6 years. I would bet you can do the same for pears. On cherries, look into the UFO growing method, which is basically a tree purposely planted or trained with the trunk horizontal very close to the ground, then pruned so that all the branches grow vertical. This keeps the cherries all easy to pick and maximizes fruiting. With peaches and plums, you can probably do the same, or the Dave Wilson bush method, limiting the height of the tree to 5 or 6 feet through very strict pruning. All of these methods require pruning at least 3 or 4 times per year to keep the structure of the trees where you need them for maximum sunlight and fruiting. But with a lot of pruning, you can plant all the trees very close together, thus maximizing fruiting in a small space. And the more trees you have, the more potential amount of fruit. There are a lot of good YouTube videos from Jon Clements and GiselaCherry and Dave Wilson and a host of others about all of these different methods. Definitely check out everything on YouTube to get a feel for the different methods.


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Thanks so much Taylor, I will check them out! I am not to fond of tall spindle, that being said I know there is slot of potential for that method... I would much rather have bigger separate trees. I'm just not quite sure what size tree, what spacing I should go with. I was Originaly thinking of getting two of each:apple,pear,peach and I was going to space them 5 feet apart... But I am taking a shot in the dark. Injnderstand this is a long term investment and I don't want to wait a decade and find out a should've did things differently...That's where I'm hoping someone with experience with this would give me there experience... Thanks so much
-Joe


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Thanks so much Taylor, I will check them out! I am not to fond of tall spindle, that being said I know there is slot of potential for that method... I would much rather have bigger separate trees. I'm just not quite sure what size tree, what spacing I should go with. I was Originaly thinking of getting two of each:apple,pear,peach and I was going to space them 5 feet apart... But I am taking a shot in the dark. Injnderstand this is a long term investment and I don't want to wait a decade and find out a should've did things differently...That's where I'm hoping someone with experience with this would give me there experience... Thanks so much
-Joe


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 8, 13 at 21:47

Personally I won't go with the real tall plantings like the tall slender spindle. Those do maximize yield in cases where you need an alley way wide enough for machinery. So they are 10-12ft tall with 10-12 ft between rows. With narrow row spacing suitable for people passage only, say 6-8ft, you only need trees 6-8ft tall. Space trees in the row about 3ft apart. At these spacings dwarf rootstocks are a real plus.

Depending on a persons stature there is very good reason to keep the trees short enough to do all work from the ground. Ladders are cumbersome in dense plantings.

My plantings in a 1700 sq ft greenhouse started at 6ft by 8ft. They are now 2-3ft by 8ft. I could replant at 2-3ft by 6-7ft but that would cost quit a bit of production in the change over. Height is 6-8ft.

For the area in question, 5ft by 7ft is a good choice. Could go as close as 2-3ft with the right rootstock.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Fri, Mar 8, 13 at 21:52


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Thanks fruitnut! The figures u gave me of your planting is exactly what I was looking for! I hear you on the tall spindles, I really don't want to make trellises,etc. I would much rather have a free standing tree. But I really don't mind tall trees, the taller the more fruit, aye? Do you think I could go with a central leader and keep the width 5 feet and have it tall? I don't mind ladders, I could always shake the tree to harvest the top... u mentioned your spacing a 2-3 feet apart, is that with any type of fruit or just certain fruit? What root are you using for close planting? What pruning style? To be honest I was hoping a could do a narrow central leader for the majority of the fruit trees in the 7x30 area... Another thing fruitnut, what made u go from 6-8 ft spacing to 2-3 ft, wasting space, or different technique, or what? Very helpful, thanks so much!
-Joe


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 8, 13 at 22:33

Joe:

I went from 6x8ft to 2x8ft just so I could plant more trees and varieties. The older spacing was just as productive and easier to manage.

In your single row planting if there is open space around the trees vs say a building, taller would be more productive. Reason is during parts of the day taller trees would intercept more light. More light interception equals higher potential yield.

Central leader or just a bush is all about the same in terms of yield, again a light issue. But be aware that light only penetrates 3-4ft or so into the canopy unless you make an effort to open things up by pruning. Too dense and the inner/lower canopy shades out and produces nothing worth eating. An overly dense canopy also ups disease pressure.

For apple you need something the size of M9 or M26. I've got stone fruit on Citation, cherries on Gisela 5 and similar. I'm not up on dwarf pear roots but mine don't get very big.


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Fruitnut:

How do you prune your 2x8 fruit trees? Must be a lot of summer pruning. but what shape are they, u got a picture? U knowledgeable in central leader? Roughly how wide does central leader get? I know u have to check/head back the lateral growth to keep Christmas tree like shape... just curious how wide a central leader tree is on average? Preferably, I would plant semi dwarf central leader at 5 feet centers and keep en 10-15 ft tall. I'm thinking semi dwarf is a little to big for that?


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I am experimenting with close plantings. I have Pome and stone fruit in double and triple plants 18" - 2' on centers. Each cluster is spaced 5-6' on center in a straight hedgerow.

I intend in allowing the trees to grow outward and away from each other, and will prune inward growth heavily. All trees will be pruned to 7' tall, but allowed to grow wide in 1 plane.

This is my first year so I will keep y'all updated as I go.


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That is a prime example of what Dave Wilson tells u to do! Damn, I thought I was cutting it close with one tree every 5 foot.. gives me some hope. Keep me posted, best of luck! What rootstock they on? Where did u purchase your trees? Thanks
-Joe


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 8, 13 at 23:18

Joe:

My 2x8ft are V shaped. I cut them as short as possible on water that holds down growth. Summer, really spring pruning is not really much at all.

Central leader can be as wide as you want. 7ft at the base tapering up would work.


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I'm learning mostly about stone fruit which is what you are speaking about, right? I have 3, in ground, about 7' apart, and they are huge! Lucky thing is, there is a deck, so easy to pick the tops IF the birds and critters don't get them first.

Experienced with wine grape vines, and I do love the small vines planted so they compete, and thus give better fruit.

I have about 70 varieties of figs that I plan to hedge close together for the quality of fruit reason.

Suzi


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Right on fruitnut! Now whn u say cut en close on water, u mean to the point of wilting or just before that? What irrigation do u have? I stumpled across a few articles saying not to central leader prune peaches,etc... Would all fruit beable to central leader? Central leader is narrower than open vase, correct? Another thing it tip bearing fruit... Which fruit are type bearing, or is it just different varieties? One thing I am concerned about is once the trees are mature I'm going to have to head back the laterals to keep themfrom sprawling to the other tree, won't diminish yield on tip fruiting trees because I am constantly cutting the tips off ?


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Desertsance:

What kind of stone fruit u have? How old are them three spaced 7 ft part? U have any other fruit trees or?


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Two years ago I planted dwarf (B11, G16, B9) apples at 5 foot spacing. I've been happy with it so far. I've done a lot of training (branch bending), but not much pruning. I measured the other day and the tallest has reached just over 11 feet. I've thought about a heading cut, but I think I'll just bend over the top couple feet of the leader.

Horizontally, the largest trees are just reaching the others in the row, with little if any overlap. But, I'm not sure how much of that is due to bending the branches down- it dampens down their vigor. One thing I should probably do is to start columnularizing the branches (at least the ones which aren't in the bottom tier). I got fruit from a couple of them this past year and am hoping for fruit on most of the rest this year.

Rather than creating a complicated trellis, I just used a metal post for each tree. It isn't cost effective for an orchard, but isn't bad (~$10 per post) for a backyard orchard.

What is on the south side of this east-west strip? If it is a tall house, you may not get much sun, which would hamper most fruit production.


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Bob:

Thanks so much, picture was perfect, gives me insight. from what I can see u did central leader? I wonder how that would look if they were semi dwarf.. I would rather not stake at all, I believe the wind strengthens the stem, ur seems leggy from staking, but u probably have to with then rootstocks... I got the sun covered,just not the efficiency of the space... The south side is a small 3-4 ft wire fence that I'm going to plant grapes on... To east is a oak... Nothing to the west to much. north is a shed... But yours looks exactly how I planned on doing mine... I wonder how it would look with a mix of fruit trees not just apples.. I'm sure ill be able to check the over vigorous ones! Thanks
Joe


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Without support, I think you may have problems under heavy crop-loads. I think the issue is compounded with dwarf rootstocks- earlier bearing means more pressure when there aren't enough roots to keep things standing.

The other risk is storms. In hurricane Irene last year, I almost lost an apple tree in another part of the yard (on a semi-full size rootstock). I had it staked with a fairly weak plastic coated steel stake which would be better suited for tomatoes. The tree was partway out of the ground, but I was able to stabilize it enough that it bore apples this year.

There are places where they are a bit thin, but that isn't a bad problem to have- it means that I get good light penetration. The places that aren't thin enough, I'll need to prune... (columularizing...)

While the row in the center and off to the right (next to the bucket which is half snow-covered) are both apples, the row to the left of the picture is pears I planted this last spring with 4 foot spacings. The 3 you see in the picture are on Quince rootstock. The 4th (just out of the picture) is about twice as large (7' and more branches) on OHxF333.

The rock wall on the left is where I'm planting a half dozen peaches this spring. In fact, I got the first of them yesterday, just as the snow storm was starting. Given the forecast for the next couple days (high 40's and sunny), maybe it will melt as quick as it arrived.

I planted some peaches in the upper part of the yard at 4' spacing and they have grown like crazy in just 1 season. I may have planted them a bit close. While the tallest isn't that high (~7.5') it grew by about 4' and they are generating a lot of branches, spreading out. I think the saving grace may be that it is just 3 trees, with more space (~10') on all sides. The one in the middle may get squeezed a bit.


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The apples are on seedling, or M-111
The plums are on Mariana 26-24
Peaches and nectarines are on Nemaguard, a few on Citation

Almost everything from DW is on Citation. They sure like Citation. I will post more pics


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Bob:

How do u like the pear OHxF333 rootstock? It seems like that is all raintree carries. That brings up a point, where do u get your fruit trees? Appreciate all your info.

Joe


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Dave Wilson is a west coast nursery and in the west, growing season watering is easily controlled. Although there is at least one intelligent and dedicated member here who has been happy with very close spacing in the east, I don't think he's been doing it long enough or in a comparative enough manner to be conclusive of the efficacy.

Growing season rain does change the equation a great deal, IMO. Space between trees assures better ventilation and repeated summer pruning of vigorous trees may encourage fire blight, amongst other issues.

No one has explained to me the advantage of close spacing over multi- variety trees via grafting, beyond early fruiting. It's affect in this way hasn't been evaluated to my satisfaction here either and I know for apples, plums and cherries you can accelerate fruiting with the right root stocks and training methods.

If I was in a hurry to get apples I'd use M26 and have some precocious varieties of apples and stake with a single stake.- you can even use rebar. 8' between trees and 12' between rows would probably generally be a good spacing although less vigorous varieties could be closer and very vigorous maybe further.

Growing taller doesn't always mean you get more fruit because of shade cast by higher trees. Dwarf orchards are now the industry norm because they produce younger and at peak production produce as well as free standing (much taller) trees with less labor. Fruit colors up better, also.

Of course, if you only have a single row, or even two, taller might be better because you'd be cutting off sun that wasn't going to other trees anyway.


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Good time for this tread, after planting my apples on G-11, G-16 and B-9 this past fall at 5 foot spacing I have read that B-9 trees may stay smaller than the Geneva dwarf apples and would do fine at 2-4 foot spacing, has anyone found this to be true?

I am about to put more B-9's in the ground and I am curious to know others experiences with planting B-9's in tight spacing, thanks.


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Joe,
I've been reading your posts and could help.
I've been pretty happy with ohf333 because it helps bring them into fruiting quicker. Smaller tree, but they size up fast.
I have flower buds coming after 2yrs. from bare root planting with precocious varieties such as Tennessee. I hear Harrow sweet, seckel and a few others might fit the bill.
Noogy


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

I get flowers on Harrow Sweet the second or third year on seedling root stock. Still takes 5 years to get them into productivity for me- but I'm not tending these trees with the diligence of a dedicated owner of a single orchard. Is there research that shows 333 improves precocity much? My understanding is it slows vigor without accelerating fruiting significantly. It is not a popular root stock for commercial growers in the East, which speaks volumes.


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So,
as H-man's longitudinal experience relates, precocity tend to be more a function of variety and less that of rootstock for Epears out east. I should have side by side comparisons before making such statements, but I've never read Tennessee as being early to bear. Beats Magness!
I realize for commercial growers there are more productive and better fruit sizing rootstock available.
Less pruning of wood, branch bending, and good cultural techniques add up also to earlier bearing.
Hman do you remove fruit from the Harrowsweet the first couple seasons?


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No, it usually drops the fruit for me. I actually only began raving about the variety when it unexpectedly fruited in my nursery (4th year, untended beyond pruning) and was very sweet. It ripens early Oct. here, when I'm in the mood for pears- not in Sept. when I'm obsessing on stone fruit. Seems to be the most precocious and reliable pear cropper I have or on the short list. Need a few more years with it though.

Harrow Delight is an amazingly productive early pear, but I don't feel like eating them in Aug when they ripen. Those I've grown for almost 20 years and most go to waste.


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My on the original question would be to point out that we don't know the orientation of this 7x30 strip. If it runs North/South, I'd space the trees a lot farther apart than if the strip ran East/West.


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

MrCaballus:

My post cleary states " running east/west" thanks

-Joe


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Mr. Cab, where do you come up with that formulation? Morning sun is most crucial in my experience.


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Harvestman:

You my friend, have the out of the box thinking that I am looking for! Instead of having puny,insufficient spaced trees, why not have strong, multi-grafted trees! Honestly, I did not even take rainfall in account for tree vigor, only disease,etc... I could care less about the trees precocity, frankly. What's the extra year or so if the tree is going to suffer from insufficient spacing,light,etc... I would much rather have nice strong,hardy trees that is going to have longevity. One thing about optimizing light efficacy, I plant on planting smaller trees roasted the south and work my way to bigger trees in the north so everything would get sufficient sun... So harvestman, if you were in my shoes, what would u do? How would you maximize yield in the 7x30 area? Your guys knowledge/experience is priceless, thanks so much!
-Joe


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  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 10, 13 at 18:21

"No one has explained to me the advantage of close spacing over multi- variety trees via grafting, beyond early fruiting."

There might not be an advantage, as both are viable options. Speaking only for myself, it is just a preference. For an entry level orchardist, BYOC has a much easier learning curve and is highly manageable.

With BYOC the trees are planted in a hedgerow or same hole on the same rootstocks. They are pruned, fed, watered (and whatever else) exactly the same to minimize the likelihood of a more vigorous variety from dominating. The thinking is that a less vigorous variety has its own roots to pull from. On a multi-graft, any one variety can easily get squeezed out for any number of reasons -- including the tree's orientation. Some trees are just lopsided at first.

Since the first step after planting in BYOC is to chop off the tree at knee height, it limits the feasibility of multi-grafts straight from the nursery. Then to create a multi-graft thereafter requires skills and a learning curve that folks don't generally have from the outset.


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If I wanted to go the multi-grafted route. Let's say you have a couple different scions that ripen and bloom at different times.. When grafted on the same roots, well the different scion bloom at different times, like they're supposed to, or will the rootstock make the different scions bloom/ripens all at the same?

Thanks

Joe


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7' is pretty narrow- you can either position them in the center or on the western edge and have branches only heading ESN. My hunch is that one 7' branch would bear better than 2 3.5' branches but I've never worked in your spacing.

I would not consider planting more than 3 trees in this space and that would be pretty tight. For apples I'd use M26 or equivalent rootstock. You might consider a columnar peach from Adams County Nursery


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it's 7 foot, but there isn't anything restricting the lateral branches...ur talking 10 foot spacing, I was at least shooting for 4 trees at a rough 7 foot spacing.. When I hike in the woods I encounter trees shaped like a central leader and both the lateral branches together are only 5-8 feet... But then again theyarent fruit trees... How wide do you think a central leader fruit tree would get, width wise?


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  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 10, 13 at 20:16

Here's a nice High Density Landscape. Not sure if this would work everywhere, but here in So Cal it works well.


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Mrclint:

Thanks! I already seen all his videos though... Like others have said climate and weather have a big impact on vigor... I was looking for people in my climate.. Lot of times videos could make things seem so easy when in reality it's not ideal... Anyhow thanks!

Joe


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You can try 7 foot but I think that is a wee bit tight if you are talking 7X7' spacing. Just three trees could certainly fill the space. I'm thinking 2 apples and a peach.


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Now when you say three trees can fill that space what rootstock you talking? HOw would u prune them? My understanding it that open vase is wider than central leader?...

Appreciate it,
Joe


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 10, 13 at 21:29

I was reading back in the thread and just noticed your question on OHxF 333 and the nurseries.

I like the OHxF 333 tree fine so far, but it has only been a year. ScottFSmith has warned that Euro pears on anything but quince can take a while to start bearing, so I've mostly avoided the OHxF rootstocks. I do have a couple OHxF 87 coming this spring, as I couldn't find the varieties (including Harrow Sweet) on quince.

I've been buying a trees from quite a few nursuries. Cummins, ACN, and Grandpa's Orchard are among the best. I've also liked Starks and Burnt Ridge.

Raintree has been OK, but is not among the favorites. There's been quite a bit of variation is what I've received from them, with the size being a bit below average and the price a bit high. They also ship a bit late for my tastes. They do stand behind their stock and have some rootstocks not carried by many places. They carry Gisela 5 cherries and quince rootstocks, both of which I've ordered this yard.

Here's a picture of the 3 peach trees (4' spacing) from yesterday morning. By afternoon most of the snow melted and I was out working in the yard (planting more peaches...).


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Bob:

Thanks for keeping me posted, you are the man! Them trees seem little too close but I can see it working... Why do some say im lucky to only get 3-4 out of a 7x30 area? Are them peaches on mini dwarf rootstock or what? Thanks for the heads up on the nurserys.. I was going to leave that for another post... I was wondering about granpas trees... They seem to have a lot of old fashion heritage varieties that exactly what I'm looking for.

Thanks
Joe


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I have found more than half the trees i've planted i have removed within a few years either due to poor quality fruit, i didn't like the taste, some type of tree malady, unhappy with results, etc. and since my full sun space is now limited i just plant in between established trees with the plan to remove "dud" trees so the fruit trees i like will have adequate sun. I am not good a grafting yet, but once i get the fruits i like established, i plan to graft branches into other trees so if i lose one tree i still have the same great fruit on another.


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Garedbeck:

What do you space your trees roughly? That's for the post!

Joe


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  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 10, 13 at 23:13

Joe,

I've only had one order from Grandpa's orchard (unlike some of the others), but it went very well and I was pleased with the trees. I ordered tree guards to go along with the trees and it turned out that they were temporarily out of stock. They emailed me to let me know they would send them after the main order (no extra shipping cost) and offered me a book or some extra guards as an apology. I chose the extras and they sent 36+ instead of 24, around a week later. Nice deal. Cummins also has a lot of heritage varieties.

I think Garedneck has some very good points. It's good to have a few extra trees for any number of reasons. A lot of orchards have dwarf apples at 2' ("super spindle" pruning). That seems a bit extreme to me, but I figure around 5' is a good place to start. If some bomb out I can either graft over, or remove the tree(s), depending on how the spacing is working for me. I've planted so many apples that in a few years, I can afford to screw up quite a bit and still lots of fruit.

Of course, I'm not as confident in tight spacing for some of trees without dwarfing rootstocks. Peaches for example seem a bit more chancy to me. Most of mine are on full-size rootstocks, which is what most places sell. I am planting one this spring (Gold Dust- should arrive next week) on Citation, but even that isn't really dwarfing, like the apple rootstocks. So, I'm giving it a try, but it may require a lot of summer pruning to keep manageable.

Either way, I'd suggest keeping like trees together (apples near apples, etc). If you have other parts of the yard open, maybe do a row of apples and pears here and stonefruit in another area?


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That's where I'm coming from, I really don't want I puny little rootstock that need support. I would just like to know how to plant it out to get me maximum yield... I plan on planting a dozen or so fruit trees over my yard.. I don't have hundreds of dollars to make trellises and buy trees for tall spindle, it doesn't appeal to me to begin with... My space it kind of peculiar, it isn't a perfect square field like a orchard, if it was I wouldn't be in this perdicament... The 7x30 area is on the farthest south so my though is plant smaller trees there and work my way to bigger trees so no one tree shades the rest... Any other ideas?

Thanks so much,

Joe


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  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 11, 13 at 0:34

Shortest in the south seems like a reasonable thought. I've tried to do that in my rows.

Even dwarf rootstocks don't really produce puny trees. After all, most of my 2 year old dwarf apples are 7-11 feet tall and 5-6 feet wide, which is plenty big for me. The only ones you would want to stay away from are the mini-dwarfs (particularly M27, though G65 is pretty small too). They are more like a blueberry bush (if that big) than a tree. I have some which are 2 years old and barely 4 feet.

You can avoid the complexity and expense of a trellis with individual stakes. It also lets you adopt a less regular planting scheme (no rows needed). I've been getting 10.5' ones for ~$10, but you may be able to find them cheaper, particularly if you go with a shorter or thinner post.


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I hear you. I would take that in consideration. I probably don't even have a quarter acre to plant on. So rows aren't an issue. I'll just space em however it works out. What would you do with that 7x30 space bob?

Joe


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Raw,

Originally i had trees on 15' centers thinking i would let the dwarf and semidwarf trees grow to 15' in height and diameter, but decided to keep most trees smaller so a ladder wouldn't be needed for harvest or spraying. Rows were about 15 feet apart. I now plant trees as close as 5 ' apart and have tried a couple plantings where it is 3 trees in the same large hole. I figure if Dave Wilson has done multiple trees in a hole without trouble then spacing doesn't matter as much as making sure the trees you like get plenty of sunlight and just cut back the trees you don't like to allow the others to thrive.


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Garedneck:

You originally planted dwarf and semi dwarf trees 15 foot apart but kept em well pruned... How big are the trees, mainly width? How old are they? what rootstock?

Thanks for posting

Joe


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Raw,

Many of my trees came from vendors who didn't disclose rootstock, but just size (dwarf, semi dwarf or full) and type of fruit and variety of tree. My first trees were planted in 2007 and the largest is a semi dwarf stark sweet cherry which is 16 feet in diameter while my 2007 stark plum dwarf is 7 feet in diameter. My conclusion is dwarfs bear fruit sooner, less pruning/fruit , shorter life, while full bear fruit later, more pruning/fruit, longer life.

One approach is see what fruits will grow that you like and then worry about rootstock or spacing. Once you have experience then you can buy just the right rootstock and graft branches from your favorite trees to have custom trees and then later remove the original trees.


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Ideally, I want my tree to have some longevity.. What's the life difference in general( I understand so many variables,etc) but in general lifespan of dwarf,semi, and standard? I am either thinking 4-6 dwarf fruit trees or 3 semi dwarf or maybe even 1-2 standards... What you think? I understand you guys don't have the magic key i was hoping to get the perfect answer... Perhaps i have to dig up more information and research... Any good books or links on fruit trees???

Appreciate the help,

Joe


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Its late so I didn't read the posts. My only advice would be to stagger your fruit trees so their canopies get light. I would go with dwarf and semi dwarf smaller trees in the southern exposure and work my way up to larger full grown apples, cherries, pecans, etc. That way you make max use of light. I would also stagger the rows. It might be a PITA to mow but you can cram more in that way, just make sure you have enough room for the rootballs with full size growth and realize you'll probably have to fertilize more to get better yields. I hope you have good soil and irrigation planned if you cram them in heavy, also be aware there may be issues with pests, disease, etc. and be ready to be vigilant and act early.


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RE: Fruit tree spacing?

Dwarf apple trees are more susceptible to death by drought, disease (fire blight) or animal- I've worked on sites where after heavy snow the only trees girdled were on dwarf rootstock.

Expert advice on last ditch efforts to save dying trees, even non fruiting species, usually includes dosing with high N. fertilizer, suggesting that vigor helps trees overcome most life threatening disease and age related decline.

Literature generally suggests that with apples, longevity is closely tied to the vigor of rootstock and judging from the old apple trees I manage it is likely true that the old seedling rooted trees tend to outlive those on M7. However, I've got trees on M7 nearing 100 years old that are still productive. My evaluation is not scientific because before about 50 years ago most trees in the U. S. were planted on seedling.

I've never seen a tree of substantial age on a full dwarf rootstock, but they are much less often planted on sites I manage. In commercial orchards the turnover is quicker the more dwarfing the rootstock, so productive longevity must be less with weaker roots.

In nature- the earlier an organism matures the earlier it tends to die.


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