Hi, I am putting together a plan for our backyard “orchard,” and I would love to get some advice and double check some of my understandings/assumptions.
Really, the biggest question I have is this: What makes the most sense in terms of pruning/training dwarf apple trees for a simple backyard set up? I’ll list some details to help unpack that question:
-I have a space of about 45’ X 12’, with the 45’ length running east-west. I’m on the outskirts of Portland, OR, Zone 8b.
-I pre-ordered a handful of trees from Cummins (mostly g.11 & g.41) – I saw their pre-order stock running low on some varieties and I may have jumped the gun on this (the FOMO was hitting hard!). If it’s helpful, I’ll list the varieties at the end.
-I ordered these dwarf types with the assumption of “oh, I have a small space, I need dwarf trees.”
-I am beginning to suspect the “permanent support” requirement for dwarfs may not be what I was hoping for when envisioning a backyard orchard.
So, to circle back to my main question, I have seen pictures and videos of what I understand to be some sort of “spindle” method, with either a trellis or 10-12’ stake supporting tightly packed trees growing straight up. I don’t love that idea for our backyard, though I am entertaining the possibility of a trellis for some sort of angled cordons or Belgian fence set up.
What I am trying to find are examples of these dwarf trees grown as just that- small trees. I am picturing something around 8’ high with a 6’ spread (6’ based on Cummins’ rootstock info page). What I can’t picture is how the supports would work. Obviously one permanent stake for the center, but would individual branches need to be supported as well? Can I just tie support lines from the center stake to the branches during fruiting, or would I need multiple stakes per tree for the branches?
What I picture is something that I think is more of an “open center” shape, but I think I am gathering that that shape does not do well for trees that need support.
If I feel ambitious and go for the cordon/Belgian fence set up, I may need further advice there, in terms of ideal height, tree spacing, etc.
For the past several years, we’ve gone to a nearish orchard to get a bunch of apples (usually 200 lbs or so) to do a cider pressing with friends. I’d love to grow at least that much; my understanding is maybe 20 lbs per dwarf, or more with a vigorous variety, though I would think training method would affect yield as well. Is this correct?
I appreciate any and all input, even if it is simply to refer me to answers elsewhere that I haven’t already found during my obsessive Googling sessions I feel like the answers exist, and certainly Cummins and other sites list the details of tree size/training shape/etc, but I feel like I just can’t visualize what these things look like (and the only visuals I find are those tall spindle things).
Thanks, and if it’s helpful, here are the trees I currently have on pre-order:
Wickson on G.210
Dabinett on G.935
(I guess a follow up question should be: should I upgrade these dwarfs to the next larger rootstock and just prune to keep small, so as to avoid needing complex support? I don’t think I’d want anything more vigorous than M.26 equivalent, especially with 10 trees in this space…)