Tree form and formative pruning
There are a number of ways to manage orchards and trees - much will depend on the scale you are looking at an also the main type of fruit you want to produce. As the Fruitwise orchards are predominantly dessert fruit, the approach that Stephen Hayes uses (the ‘open goblet’ type) may not be what someone producing cider fruit will want to achieve. However, please don’t think that this in any way devalues Stephens advice for tree growers – the majority of it is sound for all types of tree.
This page lays out the theory for a number of different ‘tree forms’ - goblet, standard, centre leader, pyramid etc. For cider makers, this is likely to be the centre leader or the standard / half-standard form. It is done so as a number of links to other websites and resources. When choosing the most appropriate form for your trees the best advice is the broadest advice – especially as it is something you will aim for from planting onwards.
The Wittenham Hill web portal discusses the form of cider trees (in specific relation to growing fruit for cider) and can be accessed here:
Wikipedia has entries relating to the form and shaping of trees which (given the short-comings of Wikipedia as a reliable resource) are fairly instructive:
The RHS also has an advice sheet on pruning new apple trees. Again, this is more designed for dessert apples, but is useful:
An American website is very useful in its discussion of centre leader style of tree form. Mark Shirley recommended this. It is run by the Ecological Agriculture Projects (C G Horshey – New York State Agriculture Experiment Station):
It is worth bearing in mind that this information is different to the advice given by Fruitwise, and is focussed at intensive commercial growers in the US Northeast. However, Fig. 24 shows an ‘ideal’ centre leader tree will be of interest.
If you have any useful hints and tips for growing apple trees for apples to go into cider, please do let us know.