Tall or super spindle? A matter of space

The difference between tall spindle and super spindle is simply a matter of space. Tall spindle trees have 3 feet to 1 meter of space between them, whereas super spindle trees are laid out with no more than 2 feet between them. The additional trees packed in to super spindle blocks make the tree densities much higher.

Seeing these systems firsthand during the International Fruit Tree Association’s (IFTA) tour of western New York in July, it was clear that growers are finding ways to make both systems work for them.

The yields produced by a super spindle system are marginally better than with tall spindle if, and only if, the grower has the right kind of management in place to handle the system, according to Cornell University researchers. The added expense of growing a super spindle orchard can be somewhat negated by growing your own trees. The majority of super spindle orchards seen on the IFTA tour were planted with trees the growers grew themselves, rather than buying them through a nursery. These growers usually worked in conjunction with other growers to form a cooperative nursery.

Lamont Fruit Farm in Medina, N.Y., has gone with super spindle. According to the plan, trees planted in 2009 will not begin to bear yields until 2012 and will not begin to repay the initial costs per acre until 2013. But the investment will show advances in income potential. When yields reach full potential with 1,200 bushels per acre, each acre will begin to show profit by the ninth year.

The Lamont growers are planting their trees in 11-foot by 2-foot spacings and at 2,000 trees to the acre. They are keeping costs down through a cooperative partnership with six other growers to act as their own nursery. [Read More]

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