Our Apple Planting System

The vast majority of our apples are grown on a vertical axis system.  The rootstock has traditionally been M9 with the trees planted at 7 by 14 spacing.  This system was chosen to allow us to do all work from the ground without the use of ladders.  Because we have yet to achieve very good production per acre we have experimented with other planting systems to increase tree numbers with the expectation of increasing production per acre.  We have one block planted at 13 x 7, another block planted at 14 x 6 and another at 14 x 5-1/2.  We have a very small block planted at 12-1/2 x 3.

In 1997 we decided to let the trees grow taller in order to increase production.  The majority of our apple plantings use the modified "crop and flop" method.  After selecting 3-5 scaffold branches, the tree is encouraged to grow with minimal lateral growth.  Normal pruning is allowed on the scaffold branches, which are usually waste high or lower.  Any pruning necessary above the lateral branches requires the entire branch be removed back to the trunk.