Tree Spacing - G969 & G890

So I bought about 30 apple trees from Cummins on G969 and G890 rootstock. On their website, they say 10’ spacing between trees, with 18’ between rows. So while I had a mini excavator for a construction project, I dug all the holes.

I went with 12’ between trees, and 15’ between the rows (mistake due to misunderstanding on my part).

But after looking around, 15’ between trees, and 18’-20’ between rows seems to be closer to the consensus on tree spacing. So now I’m left wondering whether I should fill the holes back in, and do it again at the larger spacing. I obviously don’t want to do it again, but I most certainly don’t want laziness to result in sub-parr orchard performance that can’t be easily rectified.

Any thoughts?


Spacing is dependent on a bunch of variables (scion, rootstock, soil, pruning system, irrigation, etc. I would look at this tree spacing calculator and see how they interact. G890 is equivalent to M7 in size and G969 is such a bit smaller. The calculator doesn’t have G890 and G969 listed as their fairly new rootstocks. I think using the calculator will give you a much better idea if you picked the right tree spacing or you need to change it.


Thanks for that link, that is an interesting calculator I had not seen. It does a good job of showing how different factors interact. Even with that calculator there are a lot of unknowns, e.g. how sunny the climate/location is, your personal pruning style, etc etc.

@Durthil I would just leave the spacing you have myself, 15’ vs 18’ is not a huge difference and the trees are 12’ apart instead of 10’ to compensate… the square foot per tree is the same. The wider rows are often related to heavy equipment but I assume you are not a commercial orchard.


I was under the impression spacing between rows was wider was almost solely to fit a tractor or whatever farm equipment down the row? G969 and G890 produce roughly half sized trees, so 10 x 14 would probably be plenty fine if you’re only ever going to have foot traffic down the rows?


Brother, I have ranted about this topic for years as well as others.

If you’re ever bored as hell, bring up 20 or so nursery sites & prepare to be befuddled by the massive inconsistencies on: how to plant a tree, what zones the tree is good to go in, spacing, spread of a tree, soil prep, & on & on!

I fought this same spacing battle on my trees & still am to a degree. I have dwarf, semi-dwarf, and a bunch of stonefruits, none of which can effectivly be semi-dwarfed or dwarfed, despite what the tag says.

I’ll tell you what I did & see if it helps. On all my semi-dwarf apples, I spaced them 12’ apart (except for my G890 apple I accidentily ordered, which I gave 15’ on either side for some reason), same for my stone fruits. As for row spacing, I did 18’ between them, although I was originally going to do 15’. The only trees I left a little tight were my plums at 12’ & 12’ spacing. I did that after watching Orin over at UCSC talk about how plums don’t want to spread out even with prunoing, they want to go up. On a side note, his video on “Perpendicular V” peach trees was very interesting to me. I think the trees are 8’ apart and that was more than enough.

My reason (IF you have the space) is this… If you were climbing out of a 20-story burning building, would you want your rope to be too long or too short?! Would you rather have a Suburban for a family vacation, or a Ford Fiesta?? :smile: In other words, if I have a foot or two more space than I need between rows or trees, I have a bunch of options i can do in my permaculture orchard. If eveything is tight as hell, I’m stuck, or I have to uproot semi-mature trees and move them, which sounds like no fun to me, but which I had to do on 5-6 of my trees due to planting some of them in a hurrry & w/o proper research.

Now I commonly hear “just prune the trees way back if you need more space between rows or trees…” Roger that, in which case I should have just planted all dwarf apples & will now have stonefruits a lot smaller than I intended.

On top of that, I want to be able to walk & drive my lawn tractor in between rows comfortably…

My opinion is err on the side of caution IF you can, & plant other plants in any spaces you my want or need to fill…

Very dependent on pruning technique. Tall spindle for commercial growers get a recommendation of 3 to 5 ft between trees to maximize profit.

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In my limited experience, G.890 wants to grow straight up and down. That should give you some flexibility in spacing.

I would alternate g.890 with your other rootstock.

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I utilized the Clements calculator that mroot has linked. The only thing I didn’t really follow was the row spacing. I did utilize the spacing they recommended, BUT I allowed 6’ for the planting row itself (the width of my rotary tiller). So I essentially added 6’ to each row. My row widths range from 21’ down to 17’ and my planting widths ranged from 20’ to 10’.

Thank you everyone for your input. I’ve decided to redo the holes at 15’ x 20’ spacing. It’ll cost a few hundred dollars, but more light and air penetration is hardly going to hurt, and I won’t be wondering whether I screwed it up for the next ten years :grimacing:

If I had purely G.969, I’d have probably left them as is. But G.890 from all accounts gets a fair amount larger.

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You can always add other plants, dwarf trees, or leave it as is. I’ve never heard someone complain of too much space, but too little on the other hand…


WOW this seems crazy. I assume this is for the more dwarfing rootstocks and early production? -commercial growing is amazing.

I have some large pear trees that are very vertical growers. They are at approx 10’ by 15’ and I very much wish there was more room between them. I don’t even have a tractor or anything and I feel like there’s not enough space.
I think you will be happy you made it wider.