Development in intensive orchard systems of cherries in Hungary
Copyright (c) 2018 International Journal of Horticultural Science
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High density central leader systems, the so called "spindle trees" are spreading in intensive stone fruit orchards established for hand picking in Hungary. Results of Brunner (1972, 1990) and Zahn (1967, 1996) inspired the researchers to implement their theories into practice under our climate and special soil conditions. For sweet cherry it is essential to apply an orchard system appropriate for hand picking because of the European market requirements. In intensive sweet cherry orchards two new training and orchard systems are developed and adapted to environmental conditions in Hungary based on previous inventions. The first step of the development is represented by modified Brunner-spindle, which applies the delayed heading of the central leader and the sectorial-double-pruning system from Brunner (1972), resulting intensive orchard of 600-800 trees/ha density, planted on standard vigour rootstocks. Modified Brunner-spindle trees are developed with a central leader and wide-angled branches on it. Light bearing wood is positioned on the central leader and wide-angled branches. During training, shoots for branches are bent or a sectorial double pruning is used. The growth of central leader is reduced by delayed heading, and the strong upright shoots are pinched in summer. Based upon tree size spacing of 5 m between row and 2.5-3 m between trees is recommended, tree height is around 3.5-4 m. This training system is useful for hand-picking; 60-70% of the crop can be harvested from ground. Modified Brunner-spindle is suitable for either standard or moderate vigorous rootstocks. The cherry spindle is an intensive orchard planted with 1250-2300 trees per hectare and it is recommended for sweet and sour cherries on semi dwarf to vigorous rootstocks, depending on soil fertility and quality. Trees are 2.5-3.5 m high, 75-80% of the crop can be harvested from the ground. Permanent basal scaffolds are developed on the basis of the canopy to counteract the stronger terminal growth. The tree is headed only once, after planting, from the following year the central leader grows from the terminal bud. The central leader developed from the terminal bud results moderated growth in the upper parts of the tree head. The strong upright shoots that may develop below the terminal bud are pinched to 3-4 leaves in the summer or removed entirely. The weaker, almost horizontal shoots growing from the central leader form fruiting twigs in the following year if their terminal bud is not removed. Brunner's double pruning is used only once or twice on the permanent basal branches because of its good branching effect. Trials on various rootstocks are running to find optimum spacing and fruiting wood management. The training and pruning guidelines are discussed in the paper. The average crop of bearing years is around 20-30 t/ha depending on site and cultivars. This new system is spreading in Hungary, around 70 ha sweet and sour cherry orchards are trained according to our guidelines.