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Apple belongs to the Malus genus, originating in eastern Turkey, and is a pip fruit, from the Rosaceae family. The main varieties at present are from the Malus domistica group, comprising hundreds of varieties, including a large group of Spur-type that were developed in particular to improve fertility and create a low and compact tree. Leading apple producing countries (tons) are China, USA, France while the leading counties per yield (t/ha) are France, Italy USA and Turkey.

A small to medium-size tree, up to 4 - 6 m high; tree size depends on the rootstock, variety and pruning method. The leaves are dark green and elliptic in shape. The blossoms grow in clusters of 5 blossoms that grow on spurs and branches – white flowers that change their color to pink. The “king” flower opens first, creating the large typical fruit. Normally all the other blossoms are removed.

Most varieties require pollination, which is carried out by bees. In varieties with dwarfed rootstocks, fruit appears after two years, while in normal varieties, fruit appear after 3 - 5 years.

Apple best practices

Agro-ecological conditions

The apple acclimatizes to most climates. The best conditions exist between laterals 35 - 50° North and South of the equator.
Apples require 1,000 - 1,600 cold units (with the exception of the Ana variety, which requires very few cold units) and 120 - 180 days without frost. The best quality is attained where days are warm, nights are cold and there is maximum radiation. Apples are resistant to frost down to - 40 °C. Blossoms and fruit-set will suffer damage at -2.2 °C to -3.3 °C. Apples blossom late in comparison to other deciduous crops, so there is less danger of frost, although in certain varieties and regions, where there is a greater danger of frost, a frost protection system is necessary.

Optimal pH: 6.5
Medium, well-drained soils are preferable

The spur-type varieties are prolific and commercial.
In the USA, 10 main varieties compose 90% of production: Empire, Gala, Rome, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Fuji Golden Delicious, Idared, McIntosh

There are three groups of rootstock varieties:

  • Malling: The lowest at 0.27 m height
  • Mulling Merton: 1.3 – 2 m height
  • Seedling (normally local): 6 – 10 m height

The most common rootstock in dense orchards is M.9 and for medium varieties MM.16

It is common to graft saplings in the nursery and plant them during dormancy. Saplings are planted with roots exposed and not in bags.
The rootstock is grown in “Mother Nurseries”.
Sapling preparation takes at least two years.

Tree spacing
Medium sized varieties: Trees are planted 4 x 5 m or 4 x 6 m; 400-500 trees per ha
Dwarf varieties: 2.5 x 4.0 m: 1,000 - 2,300 trees per ha
Extra dwarfed varieties: 3 x 0.90 m: 3,000 - 4,000 trees

General water requirements for cold-moderate climates: 250 - 400 mm
For regions where there are summer rains: Rainfalls exceeding 5 mm must be taken into account.

In the northern hemisphere: Irrigation coefficients (Kc)


Dates of harvest










































Water stress: During the critical stages water stress could result in leaves dropping off, a reduction in apple yields and low income. This is recorded mainly during the blossoming and fruit-set stages, fruit development stages and also towards the end of the growing season.

Deficit irrigation - There are six main actions to pursue that enable deficit irrigation in order to prevent decrease of yields and thus economic damage to the orchard:

1. Apportion water based on profitability of the sections, according to tree conditions and harvest dates, wherein the better sections will receive the necessary water quantities, at the expense of the poorer sections.

2. Water is apportioned according to expected yields in the orchard sections. Sections where a high yield is expected will receive water at the expense of sections, where expected yield is low.

3. It is recommended to thin out the fruit, removing the small fruits and leaving the large fruits on the branches.

4. Reduce the canopy by pruning, thus reducing the tree’s water consumption. When pruning apple trees and other pip fruits it is important not to cut strong branches as this causes excessive vegetative growth.

5. Green pruning is preferable and in early varieties summer pruning is also recommended

6. The yield must be adapted to the allocated water allowance and not the water to the yield.

Drip irrigation system

  • One lateral per row
  • Distance between drippers: 0.5 m
  • Discharge rate: Normally 1.6 - 2.3 l/h, according to soil type
  • Irrigation frequency: every 1 - 3 days, according to soil type and development or phenologic stage.
  • Uniram As is our universal solution for on surface and SDI applications. Uniram CNL & HCNL are needed if pulse Nutrigation is selected
  • Irrigation rate: 0.7 - 1.0 mm/h

Fertilization application
Before planting: N 200 - 300 kg/ha; K2O 400 - 600 kg/ha
Young trees (1 - 4 years): N 90 kg/ha, P 30 kg/ha, K 120 kg/ha
Mature trees: N 100 kg/ha, P 60 kg/ha, K 180 kg/ha

Main diseases
Apple scab, powdery mildew, apple bitter rot, black rot, sooty mold, sclerotium root rot

Main pests
Cydia pomella, lyonetia clerkella, aphids, fruit flies (anastrepha), mites

Frost protection
It is recommended to use SuperNet SR LR 4 mm/h for every tree with a wetting diameter of 4 m
Irrigation rate should be 3.5 mm/h on wetted area

Tree treatments
Pruning is done mainly during the winter.
During the summer red varieties are also pruned a month before harvesting to improve radiation through the foliage.
In high-density orchards tree training is "central leaden" slender spindle.

Growing season
Blossoming: April-May in the northern hemisphere and the corresponding months in the southern hemisphere, the main growth stops in July. Cell division ceases three weeks after fruit-set. Fruit growth is cell growth, therefore it is necessary to maintain conducive moisture and fertilizer conditions throughout the season, in order to attain good quantity and quality yields.

Early varieties: 100 days after full blossoming
Late varieties: 180 - 210 days after full blossoming

Differ according to variety, climate, and density of trees in the orchard.
It is possible to receive yields of 60 - 80 tons/ha, but in order to improve quality and fruit size, yields should be reduced to 30 - 40 tons/ha.

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