Sweet cherry pruning and apple precision orchard management workshop

A day-long workshop on high density sweet cherry pruning and apple precision management will be held on April 9, 2014, in Northwest Michigan.

Michigan State University Extension and MSU AgBioResearch will be teaming up with the Benzie-Manistee Horticultural Society to host a Precision Orchard Management and High Density Sweet Cherry Pruning workshop on April 9, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. At this interactive workshop, MSU tree fruit horticulturalist and physiologist Greg Lang will demonstrate pruning techniques for high-density sweet cherries. The tour will begin at Greg Williams’ high-density sweet cherry orchard, Novotny Road, Cedar, MI 49621, where he has sweet cherries planted on Gisela 5 and trained to a super slender axe. We will discuss pruning strategies on very vigorous trees, particularly in light of potential impacts of this extremely cold winter.

In the afternoon, we will also prune trees at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center (NWMHRC) on four different training systems: tall spindle axe, slender spindle axe, Kym Green bush and the upright fruiting offshoots in Gisela 5 and Gisela 12. The goal of this planting is to study the influence of training system, rootstock vigor and growing conditions (site) on annual fruiting unit growth, yield and fruit quality.

The principles that are common between the training systems are:

  1. Establish pedestrian orchards to optimize training, harvest and maintenance labor efficiency.
  2. Create a tree structure with minimal permanent wood with renewable simplified fruiting structures (about 20 percent annual renewal).
  3. Facilitate crop load estimation (leaf area:fruit ratio) and management to optimize fruit quality.

From Lang’s work, the key to Gisela success is high frequency and low duration irrigation, high frequency and low rate fertilization, minimal weed competition, and pruning to minimize the potential for these precocious rootstocks to over-produce.

In addition to sweet cherry pruning, MSU Extension tree fruit educator Phil Schwallier will present precision orchard management information and demonstrate precision management techniques in high-density apples. This management strategy was developed at CornellUniversity and was intended to increase apple farm profitability by precisely managing fruit size and fruit quality.

Precision management includes several management practices, such as pruning, thinning, fertilizing, irrigating and harvest timing, as all of these decisions will affect fruit size and crop value. Preliminary data from New York has shown that more precise management of crop load, fertilization, irrigation and harvest timing will produce high yields of the optimum fruit size and fruit color – hence, this strategy could increase crop value by 50-100 percent.

Schwallier has been working with the New York researchers to develop this program, and this year he will help Michigan growers implement these strategies. This workshop will introduce growers to this precision management concept and set the stage for implementing these strategies this season.

The cost of this workshop is $20 and includes lunch. Please contact Jackie Baase at 231-946-1519 to register for this event.


High-density sweet cherry pruning demonstration
Greg Williams’ orchards, Novotny Road, Cedar, MI49621
Greg Lang, Department of Horticulture, MSU

Travel to the LeelanauCountyGovernmentCenter
8527 E. Government Center Dr., Suttons Bay MI 49682                   

Introduction to precision management in high-density apple systems
Phil Schwallier, Fruit Educator, MSU Extension


How growers can use precision management in apple orchards this spring
Phil Schwallier, Fruit Educator, MSU Extension

Travel to the Northwest Michigan Horticultural ResearchCenter
6686 S. Center Highway, Traverse City, MI 49682

Sweet cherry pruning demonstration on four training systems: tall slender axe, super spindle axe, Kym Green bush and the upright fruit offshoots.
Greg Lang, Department of Horticulture, MSU

Benzie-Manistee Horticultural Society annual meeting and dinner
Location to be determined

Dr. Rothwell’s work is funded in part by MSU’s AgBioResearch.

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