Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Apple cordons

I think I'm close to admitting defeat on some of my apple cordons. All of my pear cordons are easy to prune and more or less prolific, but some of my apples are really a waste of space. I was advised that M26 is the best rootstock for apples, but I think it is far to vigorous, M27 is a much better stock for supported forms. M26 is a pretty useless stock all round, as it's far to weak and spindly to use as a half-standard form, it needs permanent staking and the branches simply can't support and weight of fruit and are prone to breaking.

Some varieties of apple are fine on cordons, ones that spur freely with compact growth (Sunset is the best in this respect). Most apples are too vigorous and the pruning required to keep a trained form manageable just encourages yet more top growth. With the exception of just a few, most apples fare best with only light pruning to shape.

The more vigorous of my M26 cordons make shoots growth in excess of 3 feet which is just a bit too thick to prune with secateurs; using a lopper results in ugly wounds, and personally I dislike having to resort to a pruning saw. It's a sign that something isn't working.

I will give them one last chance and ringbark the worst offenders next Spring, but I will also graft up some M27 versions of these trees and either make a new cordon, or grow them as bushes now that I have some more space (or both). If ring-barking doesn't work, I think I'll take them out and plant pears in their place.

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