What Is a High Density Orchard?
• A high density orchard is defined as any
orchard with more than 150-180 trees per
acre. However, many highly productive
commercial orchards today have 150-180
trees per acre and higher density could be
anything over 180 trees per acre.
What Is a High Density Orchard?
• Besides having an increased number of trees
per acre, a high density orchard must come
into bearing within 2-3 years after planting. To
achieve this early production, it is essential to
use a precocious dwarfing rootstock. Although
it is possible to restrict the growth of trees on
semi-dwarf rootstocks, they do not have the
genetic capacity for early bearing.
Rootstocks for High Density Orchards
• High density orchards require trees
propagated on dwarfing rootstocks. Presently,
only three commercially available rootstock
groups or types can be recommended to
develop a high density orchard system for
North Central MN. The rootstocks that are
commercially available to fit this niche are
Bud.9, G41 and M.26.
Planting and Protecting your Trees
• Plant trees 42” – 5’ apart
• Make sure bud union is 1”
above the ground no
more and no less.
• Don’t over amend the soil
going back into the hole
• Install White plastic tree
wrap and ½” hardware
• 1st Tree training for high density orchards
begins at planting. If an unbranched or whip
tree is purchased, head the tree at 30 to 34
inches. If a well-branched (feathered) tree is
planted, remove all branches within 24 inches
of the ground and head the leader 10 inches
above the top (usable) lateral branch.
Feathered trees will increase early fruit
It is all about Balance!!!
• Look at your root system….
• If you have a full strong looking root system
you should not have to prune as much off the
• If you have a weak root system you will have
to prune more off your tree.
• Your Goal Balance your root system to your
Building 4 Wire Support System
• End Pole 5” by 14’ plant
• In line poles 4” 12’ plant
• Space poles 25-30’
• Tree Spacing 42”- 48”
Building 4 Wire Support System
• 1st wire 30” off ground
• 2nd wire 24” spacing
• 3rd wire 24” spacing
• 4th wire 24” spacing
• Second, the trees must receive adequate, uniform
moisture during the growing season to maintain tree
growth, and irrigation is highly recommended as an
insurance against drought.
• Third, all weed competition in the tree row should be
eliminated with herbicides. Don’t go any wider with
the herbicide strip then you need to. I don’t
recommend using Herbicide for the 1st year.
• Pendamethalin Weed Control and Relie for Burn
• Foliar Feed at least 3 times 2 weeks apart starting at
• Get your Leader to 8’ as
soon as possible.
• The branching should begin at approximately
24 to 32 inches above the soil surface.
• During the 1st 5 years most lateral branches
are left on the tree to optimize early
• Branches are thinned out as shading becomes
a problem in the 3rd to 5th year or later as
• All branches are temporary and are renewed
every 2 to 4 years. Or once they reach about
• The maximum branch spread of this tree
outward from the leader is approximately 3 to
• When the emerging lateral branches are 3 to 6 inches
long, they should be spread outward to develop a wide
crotch angle which will form a strong union for future
fruit production. Two tools that are effective for
spreading branches are toothpicks or spring loaded
clothespins. Branches are spread outward as they are 3
to 6 inches long and maintained to approximately an
80 to 85o angle. As the branches grow, the branch can
be held down with concrete weights attached to
clothespins and clipped to the branch or by tying down
with string or twine wrapped loosely around the limb
and to the base of the tree stake or clips in the soil.
• All upright secondary growth on the lateral
branches is pulled over to horizontal with
weights or pulled over and clipped to other
lateral branches or removed when 3 to 4
• Lateral branches that are spread will grow
slower due to reduced apical dominance, have
more secondary branching and initiate flower
buds much earlier due to the reduced vigor.
• Again, the goal is to avoid pruning and promote
early fruit production which is essential for both
reducing tree vigor and pulling down lateral
• On newly planted trees, all branches with wide
crotch angles are left during the first several years
to increase initial cropping. If and when shading
starts to become a problem in the center of the
tree after approximately 3 to 5 years, branches
are thinned out to maximize light penetration.
• Lateral branches larger then ¾” should be
remove. Use a dutch cut to encourage new
growth. This is very important! See next slide!
• Although high-density systems have many
advantages, summer training and pruning
must be conducted approximately every 4 to 6
weeks during the growing season.
• After planting an unbranched "whip," the traditional
leader-management technique would be to head the
leader or cut off the leader approximately 30 to 34
inches above ground just before budbreak. After
approximately 3 to -4 inches of new growth, a new
shoot would be selected as the leader from the 3 or 4
most terminal upright shoots and then all shoots
beneath the new leader for approximately 4 inches
would be removed. If a well-branched ("feathered")
tree is planted with 5 to 9 usable branches with wide
crotch angles, starting approximately 24 inches above
the soil, then the trees should produce fruit at least 1
year earlier than a whip.
• The best leader-management techniques are
those that do not rely upon pruning to
maintain the tree shape. Research has shown
that any pruning of young trees will reduce or
delay fruit production early in the life of the
• A preferable leader-management technique is
called "weak leader renewal" This management
technique removes the vigorous upright leader
and replaces it with a weaker branch to
devigorate the leader, maximize branching, and
encourage early fruit production. Weak leader
renewal involves pruning the central leader
during the dormant season or after bud break, if
excessive vigor is a problem, just above the
highest usable lateral.
• The lateral is then pulled up and headed at 12
inches and tied to the tree stake as the new
leader. Weak leader renewal can also be used
to maintain the leader in ensuing years. Weak
leader renewal can also be used with
feathered trees that have lower branches and
no higher branches. The leader is removed
above the highest usable lateral and then that
lateral branch is pulled up to replace the