High Density Apple Orchards: Research That Matters at UMass Amherst

The move to high density apple
production systems has been the number one change in
orchards in the last 25 years. It’s proven to bring greater
profitability and makes these orchards more sustainable, which
is really what it’s all about. Apple orchards are expensive. Labor is a big issue, and
mechanization is becoming more talked about. Even smaller orchards, which
are common in Massachusetts, can benefit from the greater
efficiency that mechanization and high density
planting make possible. These trees are planted
closely together. And what they lack in height,
they gain in beautiful, large, highly colored apples. The fruit is very high quality
and more uniform than apples from traditional trees where
they’re covered by more foliage, take longer to grow,
and don’t color up as well. In the traditional orchard,
you see a lot of leaves. Whereas in the high
density orchard, you see a lot of apples. And apples are what we’re
trying to grow, not trees. In the high density orchard,
the grower can get more fruit without more inputs like
water or pesticides, and especially without
a lot more labor. The inputs are less per
unit of fruit production. In one of these
newer style orchards, you can use a platform like
this and really speed up the harvest. And it’s safer for the
pickers, because they’re not up on ladders. So, greater efficiency,
more high quality fruit, and new technologies– this is the future for the next
generation of apple growers, here in Massachusetts
and beyond. This is research that matters.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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