The paper gives a review on the results of the latest rootstock evaluation projects in Hungary. Several cherry rootstock evaluation projects were carried out in Hungary during the last two decades. The evaluated rootstocks are partly mahalebs selected in Hungary, but more or less all the most important new rootstocks from different countries ar...e involved. The aim of these evaluation projects was to find appropriate rootstocks in a wide range of vigour for our climate and soil conditions. The conclusion of the last 20 years of research in Hungary proved just the opposite of believes, that high density orchard can only be planted with dwarfing rootstocks. Before choosing the right rootstock the most important is to consider adaptability, precocity and productivity. Dwarfing and semi-dwarfing rootstocks showed proper results only with irrigation or very good site conditions. These rootstocks are very precocious, but branches form easily blindwood. This must be corrected by severe pruning in the first years. The relatively small leaf surface area can also be disadvantageous, but it can be controlled by pruning, fruit-thinning, irrigation and fertilization. After studying different rootstocks semi-vigorous rootstocks seem to be the most adequate for different site conditions in Hungary. Fast initial growing and competent precocity are their favourable characters. From the vigorous group of clonal mahalebs or seedlings are highly recommended first of all for poor site condition (sandy, lime soils with high pH). They turn to bearing early and easy to find them in the Hungarian nurseries. But on vigorous rootstocks trees might need stronger summer pruning.
During 2000 and 2007, rootstocks of different vigor have been tested in a high density sweet cherry orchard with 'Vera '® and 'Axel'® cultivars at 4 x 2 meter row and plant distance. Trees are trained to Hungarian Spindle with permanent basal branches; in the alley way naturally grown grass is managed by mowing. The first considerable fruitin...g was in 2004. Every year we measured trunk and canopy parameters of the trees, productivity and fruit size. Our conclusion is that the rootstocks considerably affected the growth, precocity, as well as tree and orchard productivity, fruit weight of sweet cherry cultivars, but these rootstock effects are modified by cultivars, except for growth vigor. According to our results Cema, SL 64, and Bogdany are vigorous rootstocks, moderate vigorous are MaxMa 97, Pi-Ku I , and Tabel® Edabriz, Gisela® 5 and Prob are dwarfing rootstocks. Besides the precocious Gisela® 5 also mahaleb rootstocks CEMA, Bogdany and SL 64 showed considerable precocity, which can be explained by the larger bearing surface to the time of turning to bearing, and a similar or relative large density of burse shoots on fruiting branches. Cumulative yield of 'Axel'® was the highest on Bogdany and on Cerna, contrary to Gisela® 5, which produced only 50% of the previous ones. Cumulative yield of 'Vera'® was the highest on SL 64, and no significant difference was found, compared to trees on rootstocks Cema, Bogdany and Pi-Ku I . Cumulative yield production of trees was smaller on Gisela® 5, Prob, Max Ma 97 and Tabel® Edabriz rootstocks. Corresponding to the literature data of yield efficiency calculated on TCSA basis was highest on Gisela® 5 rootstock. but the efficiency calculated on canopy volume of 'Axel•® trees was similarly high on CEMA and Bogdany, and that of 'Vera'® trees relatively high on CEMA, Bogdany, SL 64 and PiKu I rootstocks. When calculating orchard efficiency al spacing 4 x 2 meters (1250 tree/ha), we received highest yield values on Bogdany, CEMA, SL 64, and PiKu I rootstocks, with large fruit weight. Rootstocks also affect fruit weight. We measured the largest fruit weight on trees on Bogdany.
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.