Pomological performance of a 2-dimensional planar cordon apple orchard

B. van Hooijdonk, J. Byrne, T. Leitch, J. Wilson, F. Rojo, T. Kaneko, K. C. Breen, H. Saei, D. Dayatilake, S. Tustin, A. Friend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


New Zealand apple orchards are planted with wide inter-rows (3+ m) to facilitate machinery access. Consequently, mature apple orchards achieve a maximum fractional light interception of only 60%, limiting yields annually to ~100 t ha-1. Therefore, we tested new prototype apple orchards comprising narrow inter-rows and 2-dimensional tree arrays, purposely designed to increase orchard light interception and yield. In 2014, bi-axis ‘Royal Gala’ and ‘Scifresh’ trees on ‘Malling 9’ rootstock were planted at 3 m between trees within the tree rows, with inter-row spacings of 1.5 m (2222 trees ha-1) or 2 m (1667 trees ha-1). Each inter-row spacing incorporated 2-dimensional planar cordon trees trained with upright fruiting branches oriented either vertically or in a narrow vee. Using ‘Royal Gala’ as an example, 7-year-old experimental orchards planted at the 1.5-m and 2-m inter-row spacings achieved gross yields of 173 t ha-1 and 140 t ha-1. Comparatively, the upper quartile of high-performing commercial New Zealand ‘Royal Gala’ orchards produce an average yield of ~75 t ha-1 at the same age. We discuss the yield of a planar cordon ‘Royal Gala’ orchard across eight years of study, and describe branch architecture, fruit set and fruit dry matter concentration within mature tree canopies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-43
Number of pages9
JournalActa Horticulturae
StatePublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • fruit quality
  • fruit set
  • light interception
  • training system
  • tree architecture
  • yield


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