Often uninitiated of our business have the idea of an apple tree resembling the one from which the famous apple that inspired to Isaac Newton the gravity law fell. As a matter of fact, since quite many years orchards are no longer a set of trees spread on the ground, but tidy rows of plants lined at regular distance to grant their maximum productivity.
Progress of nursery techniques created more productive plants for a better productivity, both quantity and qualitatively speaking, but also considering the most requested varieties of the market, favoring plants grafted on less–vigorous rootstocks for an easier handling of the plant itself and a quicker start of fruit production.
A sensible difference with the past, when an orchard life was characterized by a training phase of several years, which had the only purpose to shape plant trunk through specific pruning techniques, while nowadays orchard enters fructification phase in two/three years from planting. This evolution of farming techniques created the need for an efficient supporting system, able not only to hold the plant (now without their strong trunks), but also to allow mechanization of the orchard, easing pruning, maintenance works and, last but not least, possibility to install hail or rain coverings.
So systems that was born to support vineyards have been redesigned to be applied on orchards and cement piles quickly became popular, having a crucial role in granting our fruit trees production and introducing a new concept synthesized in three words: “plant, tie, harvest”.
Besides piles, set at regular distances to grant support not only to the tree but especially to their great load of fruit production (up to one hundred tons per hectare), steel wire and tightening accessories became also necessary and their combinations gave birth to different farming systems.
The best–known system is indeed “Super Spindel”, that consists in training the plant simply as a column axis with a high density per hectare and short branches, all of the same length. Plant has then more cylindric shape, supported by a varying set of wires depending on height of the plant, spaced around eighty centimeters one from the other and connected, although differently, to both head and intermediate piles.
The item that has proven unequivocally the best for this job, assuring both connection and tensioning of the wire, is VA.PA. collar. Its indisputable handiness and easiness in installation, as showed by our new-Zealander dealer Hortivate in this video, allows it comfortable installation on head piles and a quick yearly maintenance, always granting the best support to our plant, year after year.
On intermediate piles steel wires is attached to the pile with a wire-stop hook, which preformed shape assures the perfect adherence to the pile and a wire safe support, not to mention the fast application. Plant is then secured to the wire with the plastic tie, granting its locking without harming the tree.
As shown, Super Spindel is for sure the most versatile and extensively used farming system, with application in apple, pear, cherry, peach, apricots orchard always granting optimal results and an excellent ratio between cost and benefits, not to mention a quicker and handy installation.
A minor variation of the structure, named “Spindel”, is sometimes used in specific areas with limited sun exposure or that are using plants with a lower density per hectare.
Its main characteristic is the use of a steel spacer on the lower part of the plants, fixed perpendicularly to the pile. Usually, it has a width of eighty centimeters and shaped edges where a pair of steel wires (usually 1,60mm diameter) is laid, allowing a longer length of plant lower branches.
This appendix makes then possible to shape plant lower branches as we prefer, with a correct direction and, at the same time, holding the weak branches when load with fruits or bending those too vigorous, avoiding the apical dominance.
A undoubted list of advantages that will give to our plant a more conic shape, avoiding anyway an excess of shade on the lower branches, where we will try to get the most part of our fruits, since it is easier to handle and pick them. All the rest of the structure is the same of superspindel, therefore has a variable additional number of wires, from three to six, according to the variety of the plant and the height we want to reach.
In conclusion, it just begs the question: “which is the best system?”
The right reply is: “it depends!”. Plant variety and sun exposure of our orchard, further than other secondary aspects, are the main variable that for sure our agronomist will consider to the make the most suitable choice.
Motueka, New Zealand