Pruning apple trees of the Mclntosh group
The Mclntosh variety and its related Spartan and Lobo varieties are among the most popular varieties in our orchards. The two early varieties of this group, Vista Bella and Jerseymac, are less widespread in cultivation. These varieties are characterized by strong growth (Mclntosh) or moderate (other varieties). Young -trees develop a strong and straight conductor with a moderate number of side branches. The annual gains are not very numerous, long and stiff. The crowns are formed by numerous boughs, strong, -stiff and wide. Young trees generally grow vigorously, while the older ones, due to abundant fruiting, they often grow poorly. Flower buds are formed almost exclusively on shoots, which are formed in two-year increments and are very durable.
All these varieties tolerate pruning very badly at a young age. The shortening of annual shoots gives particularly unfavorable results. If the cutting of young trees is poor, they begin bearing fruit early and they are very fruitful. Abundant yielding inhibits the further growth of trees and therefore they can be easily maintained in the orchard with a spacing of 6X4 m for a period of 25 years or even longer.
The rules for pruning apple trees from this variety group are as follows. Six to eight years after planting the orchard, the tops of the trees should be trimmed to a height of approx 3 m, and in rowed orchards even up to 2,5 m (Lynx.).
Lynx. Cutting out wolves and x-raying the McIntosh apple crown.
This pruning is necessary to ensure that the lower branches are well exposed to sunlight and to spray the trees effectively. You have to remember, that these varieties are generally susceptible to scab, therefore, with trees that are too tall, its control may be troublesome. Crowns that are low and open at the top should ensure a proper blush on apples.
At the same time, the crowns should be thinned. From the initial number of 10-12 branches we leave 6-8 permanently. X-raying should be done by cutting a small amount of thick branches. Large numbers of small shoots should not be cut or shortened, so as not to stimulate growth. On older trees, Especially in the Mclntosh variety, there are generally many shoots called wolves. Wolves should be cut down in July and August.
In orchards established on fertile soil, spaced 6X4 m, it is necessary to flatten the crowns of the Mclntosh variety, when the trees are old 10 years. Crown flattening is achieved by cutting out the limbs growing perpendicular to the inter-row. Avoid shortening the many small shoots growing towards the inter-row. If, after flattening, there are still difficulties with controlling tree growth, the orchard can be thinned by removing every second tree in the row and maintaining the current direction of cultivation.
Cutting trees when they are fully fruiting has a great impact on the quality of the fruit. Too intensive cutting of Mclntosh apple trees is often the cause of overgrowing of the fruit and its poor storage properties. It is different with the Spartan variety, which at a later age tends to bear small fruit. Spartan trees therefore have to be cut stronger than trees of the Mclntosh variety.