Branchless multi-leader apple tree

Branchless multi-leader apple tree


This manual shows the orchardist step-by-step how to develop and train the branchless multi–leader apple tree.
The manual can be followed by unskilled orchard workers.
The branchless multi–leader apple tree is a relatively new training system in Australia and will be progressively updated.

Topics covered in the manual

 What is a branch?

What are the problems with branches?

  • A: Branch manipulation
  • B: Angles and sizes of branches and limbs
  • C: Angles and positions of branches and limbs
  • D: Branches & limbs with different growth habits
  • E: Dormant heading cuts create vigour
  • F: Bent branches and sunburn of apples

Benefits of a branchless multi-leader tree

Different parts of a branchless tree

  • What are fruiting units?
  • Fruiting units of branchless multi-leader trees
  • What is a spur?
  • What are vegetative spurs?
  • What are reproductive or fruiting spurs?
  • What is known about spur leaves?
  • What role do shoot leaves play?
  • What are axillary and terminal buds?
  • Not all floral buds are the same

Making good use of sunlight

Upright vs Angled canopies

How many leaders per tree?

Choice of rootstock & suggestions

Branchless two–leader trees on an upright trellis and on Open Tatura

Tree training: First year — two leaders per tree

  • Planting
  • Leader selection
  • Guiding the leaders up the strings
  • Materials for canopy & tree support
  • Remove any sylleptic shoots
  • Remove any new shoots
  • Select leaders of equal size
  • Maximise canopy surface area
  • Using two branches developed in the nursery

Tree Training: Year 2 — give the head a good start

  • De-blossom and de-fruit the trees
  • Controlled canopy development
  • Create fruiting units,force growth of new shoots
  • Support the leaders
  • Canopy development

Tree Training: Year 2 — the bench cut

The dormant 2-year-old tree: Leaders are dressed with young fruiting units

How to deal with a few semi-strong shoots to become fruiting units

Plant polliniser trees

The branchless four-leader tree

NEW Tree Training: Year 3 — for trees with two or four leaders

  • STEP 1: Create fruiting units in the upper part of the leaders with a foliar spray of Cytolin
  • STEP 2: Pluck the apical portion of the leaders
  • STEP 3: Score

NEW How many apples to leave on young trees after thinning

  • 1. Predict potential crop load from tree size
  • 2. Predict potential crop load from the interception of sunlight by trees
  • 3. Thin fruit and monitor fruit growth

NEW Benchmarks for marketable yields

Thinking of grafting-over?

Tree nutrition

Replacing nutrient losses from harvested fruit

Nitrogen for branchless apple trees

Calcium: in the soil, tree and fruit

Crop load management: pruning and thinning

  • Pruning
  • Thinning

What happens to trees after harvest?

What causes biennial bearing?

What is water core?

Avoid skin russet

How do apples turn red or pink? 

  • Sunlight
  • Temperature

Sunburn symptoms and control

Hail net

  • The benefits of hail net
  • Crop load
  • Bee activity
  • Type of hail net/structure/shape
  • Colour of net

Water & stress

When are apples ready to harvest - Nine maturity tests

Six steps to prepare soil before planting

  • STEP 1. Have your soils tested
  • STEP 2. Grade your block (if necessary)
  • STEP 3. Apply lime, gypsum, rip and cultivate the soil
  • STEP 4. Hill up the surface soil
  • STEP 5. Sow ryegrass or let weeds develop
  • STEP 6. Spray out ryegrass or weeds before planting

Soil organic matter

How useful is a soil test?


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