Monday, October 13, 2008

Super-spindle Cameo apple trees on B.9 rootstock

I picked these Cameo ('Caudle' cv., trees from Willow Drive Nursery) apples that were planted in 2002 as part of a larger super-spindle (2 ft. X 10 ft. tree spacing) block at the UMass Cold Spring Orchard today. These were very nice fruit -- see the results of my testing. Harvested eight (8) bushel boxes off twenty (20) trees. Thus, assuming app. 2,000 trees/acre, projected yield should be 800 bushel boxes per acre. (I did not pick all the fruit, only the nicest 'target' fruit.) Not bad, but the real story is the ease of management of these trees. Most are easily kept under 10 ft. in height, pruning and spraying is simple. This apple variety (Cameo) with this rootstock (B.9) planted to a super-spindle (2 ft. between trees by 10 ft. between rows) can't be beat. The only down side is tree cost to establish, and maybe, Cameo has a tendency to be a little biennial -- a major problem with varieties such as Gala, Cameo, Honeycrisp when grown in these intensive orchard systems that needs more research!

I also looked at Topaz, a particularly red strain being sold as 'Crimson' Topaz. (Adams County Nursery.) Topaz is scab-resistant, attractive, seems to yield early and heavy, and I like it -- I believe it has Cox Orange Pippin' as a parent, so it is quite tart (but with high sugar) with a rather complex flavor. Widely planted in organic orchards in Europe I understand. Organic growers must seriously consider.