Apple Branchless multi-leader

This manual shows the orchardist, step-by-step how to develop and train the branchless multi–leader apple tree.

The branchless multi–leader apple tree is a relatively new training system in Australia and will be progressively updated.

The branchless multi–leader tree is a good example of a controlled canopy with good distribution of sunlight.
This poses new challenges for orchardists. Hence, orchardists need a manual that complements our current manuals on apples.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we have illustrated this manual with many photos and drawings, as we did with our earlier manuals.
This manual helps you to manage your orchard carefully, with intelligence and thoughtfulness.

The manual can be followed by unskilled orchard workers.

Apple Branchless Multi Leader cover

  • Over 200 pages of information, photos and illustrations
  • File download: 16 Mb
  • Updated and expanded: August 2020

Topics covered in the manual

 What is a branch?

What are the problems with branches?

  • A: Branch manipulation
  • B: Angles and sizes of branches and limbs
  • C: Angles and positions of branches and limbs
  • D: Branches & limbs with different growth habits
  • E: Dormant heading cuts create vigour
  • F: Bent branches and sunburn of apples

Benefits of a branchless multi-leader tree

Different parts of a branchless tree

  • What are fruiting units?
  • Fruiting units of branchless multi-leader trees
  • What is a spur?
  • What are vegetative spurs?
  • What are reproductive or fruiting spurs?
  • What is known about spur leaves?
  • What role do shoot leaves play?
  • What are axillary and terminal buds?
  • Not all floral buds are the same

Making good use of sunlight

Upright vs Angled canopies

How many leaders per tree?

Choice of rootstock & suggestions

What is Apple Replant Disease (ARD) NEW

  • Overcoming ARD
  • Rootstocks
  • Remove old roots
  • Phosphorus
  • Crop rotation
  • Fallow
  • Chemical treatments

Scion rooting of apple trees

Branchless two–leader trees on an upright trellis and on Open Tatura

Tree training: First year — two leaders per tree

  • Planting
  • Leader selection
  • Guiding the leaders up the strings
  • Materials for canopy & tree support
  • Remove any sylleptic shoots
  • Remove any new shoots
  • Select leaders of equal size
  • Maximise canopy surface area
  • Using two branches developed in the nursery

Tree Training: Year 2 — give the head a good start

  • De-blossom and de-fruit the trees
  • Controlled canopy development
  • Create fruiting units,force growth of new shoots
  • Support the leaders
  • Canopy development

Tree Training: Year 2 — the bench cut

The dormant 2-year-old tree: Leaders are dressed with young fruiting units

How to deal with a few semi-strong shoots to become fruiting units

Plant polliniser trees

The branchless four-leader tree

Tree Training: Year 3 — for trees with two or four leaders

  • STEP 1: Create fruiting units in the upper part of the leaders with a foliar spray of Cytolin
  • STEP 2: Pluck the apical portion of the leaders
  • STEP 3: Score

Prune trees in winter to consistently maintain high yields of target fruit

  • Renewal pruning
  • The 1,2,3, rule
  • Artificial spur extinction, a type of spur pruning
  • Spur trimming, a type of spur pruning

How many apples to leave on young trees after thinning

  • 1. Predict potential crop load from tree size
  • 2. Predict potential crop load from the interception of sunlight by trees
  • 3. Thin fruit and monitor fruit growth

Benchmarks for marketable yields

Thinking of grafting-over?

Tree nutrition

Replacing nutrient losses from harvested fruit

Nitrogen for branchless apple trees

Make good use of nitrogen fertiliser NEW

  • Different forms of liquid
  • Timing of applications
  • Efficient methods of application
  • Fertigation
  • Tree-line applications
  • Foliar application

Avoid making soil acidic when applying nitrogen fertiliser NEW

  • Select N fertiliser to suit the soil pH
  • Check soil pH before planting; apply lime if required

Calcium: in the soil, tree and fruit

Crop load management: pruning and thinning

  • Pruning
  • Thinning

What happens to trees after harvest?

What causes biennial bearing?

What is water core?

Avoid skin russet

How do apples turn red or pink? 

  • Sunlight
  • Temperature

Sunburn symptoms and control

Does overhead cooling avoid sunburnt apples?
Alternatives to overhead cooling

Hail net

  • The benefits of hail net
  • Crop load
  • Bee activity
  • Type of hail net/structure/shape
  • Colour of net

Water & stress

When are apples ready to harvest - Nine maturity tests

Six steps to prepare soil before planting

  • STEP 1. Have your soils tested
  • STEP 2. Grade your block (if necessary)
  • STEP 3. Apply lime, gypsum, rip and cultivate the soil
  • STEP 4. Hill up the surface soil
  • STEP 5. Sow ryegrass or let weeds develop
  • STEP 6. Spray out ryegrass or weeds before planting

Soil organic matter

How useful is a soil test?

Keep Phytophthora out of your orchard NEW

  • Collar rot and crown rot of apple trees
  • Preventative measures
  • Chemical control

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