The Vertical Axis Planting System: Planting, Pruning, and Training

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Developed originally by J.M. Lespinasse in France and imported to the United States through Quebec, this system has become on of the most widely planted systems in the United States. The system relies on high density, dwarfing rootstocks, minimal pruning, limb renewal, and an effective support system. Advantages include early production, high quality fruit, lower tree cost than higher density systems, and lower management costs than free standing systems. The major disadvantage is that it is a tall system that requires working off the ground and the associated costs. Vigor control can also be a problem. Maintaining sufficient vigor in the bottoms and controlling excess vigor in the tops is a challenge on some varieties such as McIntosh and Gala. Excellent management in the tops and maintaining light distribution throughout the tree results in maintaining sufficient vigor in the bottoms.

Characteristics of the system include between row spacing of 12-14 feet, in-row tree spacing of 5-7 feet, a tree height of 12-14 feet, a narrow canopy width along the axis of only 3-5 feet, tree density of 500-700 trees/acre, and arranged in single rows.

Steve Hoying
Terence Robinson
Mike Fargione
Cornell University Cooperative Extension