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Spreading shoots or branches of young apple trees

Written by Consultant-Fruit Production

The proper angle of shoots or branches is an aspect of tree training which encourages formation of flower buds and fruit, allows for sunlight to penetrate into the canopy, gives structural strength to the tree, and directs growth within the young apple tree.


Bending-shoots-below-horizontal-stops-extension-growthShoots or new shoots refer to current growth up to one year old. These shoots are long and vigorous and their tip buds often remain vegetative.
Branches are older than one year and have formed new shoots and laterals. A branch can have wood of different ages.

 Crotch angles and strength

Branches with narrow crotch angles are structurally weak and can easily break in the wind, or from heavy crop loads.  
Branches with wide crotch angles ...

Effects of branch spreading
The way that shoots or branches are spread and positioned and the time of year when this is done, affect growth and cropping...

Arch bending

Arch bending is where the tip of the shoot or branch is bent below some point along the shoot or branch, to form an arch or curve...

Apical dominance

The gravimorphic responses to spreading or bending are the result of a phenomenon called apical dominance...  

Bending & arching affect apical dominance differently

As shoots or branches are bent away from a vertical position, auxin and cytokinin are no longer concentrated in the tip, and the number and length of lateral shoots are increased while extension growth is decreased...

What is a good angle?
The best production comes from branches trained to grow at about a 45 degree angle from the vertical position...

Avoid bending branches

When you bend a branch or shoot below the horizontal position—so that the tip is at the lowest point—the dominant bud...

When should you spread?
In any tree training system, the aim is to fill the tree’s space as quickly as possible...

A few hints
Before you spread branches with narrow crotch angles, under-cut them first...

3-to-1 rule
Shoots and branches that you spread must obey the 3-to-1 rule...

Tatura Trellis or Open Tatura

In a Tatura Trellis or Open Tatura, space the bottom and second wire 300 mm apart in order to establish the basal frame work easily...


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