Farm, Garden and The Land > Permaculture, Land Management and Foraging

Visited a apple orchard this weekend


My family and I visited a local orchard/pumpkin patch this weekend and I noticed the apple trees looked funny.  The trees were very short and stumpy.  They were about 8-10 ft tall and the trunk near the ground was very large in diameter.  I heard about trees being trimmed short so it aids picking by hand, but was the big trunk size caused by trimming the tree short for many years?  I want to plant some fruit trees and was wondering if trimming the tree short is the correct way to go.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

I am not a professional orchard grower, but I believe that they are stumpy because of their trimming to the branches and trying to keep them from getting too tall. However, some people just put a big thick blanket under the tree when the fruit starts dropping and they gather them later in the day or in the morning. Trimming the branches and pruning allows for better, bigger, jucier (is that a word?) fruit. Just remember to use that branch spray when pruning to keep insects and disease out.

Those trees were planted using dwarf rootstock. They take a fullsize tree and graft it onto a "dwarfing" root stock. The tree produces the same type of fruit as the grafted portion, but only grows as tall as the genetics of the root stock will allow.

Pruning is different for each type of tree (you wouldn't prune an apple tree the same way you would a cherry). Do not try and prune standard size trees (especially pear trees which are naturally tall, straight growing trees) to a shorter length. There are various pruning methods for different types (variety and size) of trees and I would suggest reading up on them or getting someone to show you the methods and various pruning techniques available for each type of tree.

We've got a few trees back on the farm that are 40-50' tall.  Still the largest and tasiest apples I've ever had. I'd have to say they're pruned/designed for pickability AND fruit.  Best of both worlds.


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