Apple Tree Pruning

I noticed many of the Apple trees in the orchards I visited in Virginia this summer had a form like that shown below.

The trees were free standing with no trellis, and spacing in the row was probably about 10-12 feet. One of these orchards was planted in 1985. The trees had one central leader. It Looked like the lower scaffolds are permanent and horizontal, but the upper scaffolds are renewed.

This tree form is common in that area, but it is somewhat different than I expected from a traditional central leader tree.

What is this pruning method called called and what rootstock would be most appropriate?

To me that’s still a central leader. You’d want something vigorous like M-111 depending on vigor of soil and scion.


I came across the interesting video below during my search for Apple pruning information. Smart guy from Cornell who grows and sells Apples and other tree fruit on a small farm in NY State.


Very good vid Blueberry. I especially liked the low key and calm way he goes about explaining everything. I prefer videos from guys like this who actually grow fruit as opposed to the more common ones done by extension agents. Those guys seem to all repeat the same things and you can just tell they are retelling you something they read as opposed to something they actually know.

The picture of the apple trees below was so interesting, I wanted to post it. I understand these are M26 about 12-15 feet apart, with no trellis. The form of these trees is very similar to some large orchards I saw this summer in Virginia. This form seems to be contrary to some pruning rules, but I understand it produces large amounts of high quality fruit

That was probably the best apple pruning video that I have seen.

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Where is this orchard Blueberry. Kinda looks like it could be NW Virginia. I really like this, a bit wider than a trellis, but free standing and allows growth in 3 dimensions on the lower, wider tiers.
Maybe the trouble with trellis toppling in ice and snow/wind makes growers in those regions lean more toward this method?


Sure does! Looks just like a lot of the large orchards in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, but the website I got the picture from is a orchard in New Zealand.

NZ…really? I’m only an hour away from the Shenandoah Valley myself blueberry.

Where are you located in Maryland?

My wife is from Woodstock, Va. When she was a kid, the 20 acre city lot next to her house was an orchard growing apples they just called “Pippins”, which were actually Albemarle Pippins. I believe there is still commercial Pippin production in the valley. For a long time, people in this area refused to accept the fact that Albemarle Pippins were actually NewTown Pippins from New York

I’m in Allegany county, so I’m just about exactly 1 hour from Winchester, VA… I’ve been through Woodstock before.