Dwarf, or columnar apple trees - the path to a high yield
Not so long ago, an interesting article on columnar apple trees was published on Botanichka. Due to my professional duties, I had to learn a little about the experience of growing them in Poland. I would like to share some observations and a number of non-standard technological features that can be interesting and useful for gardeners involved in both professional apple growing and for owners of small summer cottages where you have to save on every meter.
Indeed, our counters are filled with apples from Poland and other countries of Eastern Europe. They are both larger and cheaper, and they are often stored better. Why? One of the main secrets is the widespread use for several decades in these countries of special technology of dwarf or columnar apple trees. We continued and continue to grow ordinary tall trees. The power of stereotypes!
But growing undersized, columnar apple trees has obvious advantages: productivity, early start of the fruiting period, winter hardiness, ease of care and compact plant size, better fruit preservation. Most importantly, the plant does not need to spend significant nutrient resources in the formation of wood, everything is aimed at fruiting.
And I must say that the technologies here are developing very rapidly to achieve maximum productivity per unit area and reduce costs. For example, it turned out that the technology provides considerable advantages when two long column-shaped shoots are formed on one short trunk. Their correct orientation to the sun (see Fig. 1) allows more optimal use of solar energy and preserves the advantages of simple columnar apple trees. Experienced gardeners can try, this gives an increase in yield of about 20%.
Some farms went even further by forming 3 columnar shoots placed in a certain way (Fig. 2). So that the existing space between the trees is used to the maximum. And this can give an additional 5-10% increase to the crop.
The formation of a vase-like or spiral-shaped crown on a short trunk looks quite exotic (Fig. 3), but this is more likely for designer compositions, since it is very laborious and requires very high qualifications, and the biological advantages of this, in my opinion, are not so obvious. But if someone in his country house does something similar, he will undoubtedly amaze the neighbors and gain the glory of a noble gardener.
Two more short and simple tips. Support your columnar apple trees with special wire structures, especially if they are arranged in a row, because their shoots are relatively thin and fragile.
And one more secret. Experiments have shown that it is most effective to feed not into the ground under the roots of columnar apple trees, but to spray the shoots themselves from a spray gun or sprayer. At the same time, digestibility is much higher, consumption is less, and then the result is obvious!