Apple (Malus pumila) is an essential temperate fruit. Apples are primarily consumed fresh, but a small part of the production is prepared into juices, jellies, preserved slices and other items.
Climate Required for Apple Production
The apple is a medium fruit crop. However, in India, the apple-producing areas do not fall in the warm zone. Still, the generally mild climate of the region is due to the Himalayan ranges and high altitudes. The average summer temperature should be about 21-24oC during the active growth period. Apple works best in areas where the trees experience continuous rest in winter and abundant sunshine for good colour development. It can be built at an elevation of 1500- 2700 m above sea level. Well-distributed rainfall of 1000-1250 mm throughout the developing season is most beneficial for optimum growth and fruitfulness of apple trees.
Soil for Apple Production
Apples develop best on well-drained, loam soils with a depth of 45 cm and a pH range of 5.5-6.5. The ground should be free from complex layers and water-logged conditions. Soils with heavy clay or compressed subsoil are avoid. For enhancing soil fertility, tractors played a vital role, and for this purpose, Eicher 485 is the best option. Also, it provides high performance in the fields.
Grafting: Apples are produced by several methods viz.; whip, tongue, cleft and roots stealing. Tongue and crack propagating at 10-15 cm above the collar through February-March give the best results.
Budding: Apples are produced mainly by shield budding, which gives a high interest of success. In shield budding, a single bud and a shield piece of the stem cut along by the scion and inserted beneath the rind of the rootstock through a ‘T’ shaped surgery during the active growth period. Budding is done when the flowers are fully formed during summer. The optimum time of budding is September in Kashmir Valley, Kumaon hills of Uttaranchal, high hills of Himachal Pradesh and June in mid-hills.
Rootstocks: Most of the apple plants are grafted or budded on the seedling of excited crab apples. The seedling rootstocks collected from the roots of diploid cultivars like Macintosh, Yellow Newton, Wealthy, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith also can used. High-density planting done using dwarfing rootstocks (M9, M4, M7 and M106).
The seeding distance changes according to variety and the fertility level of the soil. The primary consideration in establishing trees is the planting of sufficient pollinators to ensure adequate pollination. Usually, one pollinator tree needed for two to three large trees planted at 10 m distance or one-row pollinator for two rows of a primary cultivar. For high-density planting, the pollinator tree produced after every sixth tree in a row.
The most widely used operating mode is the square system. In this system, the pollinators set after every sixth or ninth tree. The other popular system of agriculture is the rectangular system. In hilly areas, apple orchards organised by established trees on the contours to prevent soil erosion and reduce runoff.
The average number of bulbs in an area of one ha. can reach between 200 to 1250. Four different categories of planting density followed viz. low (less than 250 plants/ha.), medium (250-500 plants/ha.), high (500-1250 plants/ha.), and ultra high density (more than 1250 plants /ha.). The combination of rootstock and scion type determines the plant spacing and seeding density/unit area.
Time and method of planting
Apple Planting usually done between January and February.
Pits measuring 60 cm dug two weeks before starting. The holes filled with good loamy soil and original matter. Farming done in the centre of the pit by dipping the ground and putting the soil ball, keeping the roots sound. Loose soil filled up in the waiting area and softly pressed to remove air gaps. The seedlings staked and watered immediately.
Apple trees are susceptible to low soil moisture. Water stress during the growing season reduces the number and size of fruits and increases June drop. The success of apples largely depends on the uniform number of rain during the time. In case of dry spells when critical periods, supplementary irrigation should give. Water stress conditions result in poor fruit set, heavy fruit drop, low stock and poor quality. The most critical periods of water stress are April- August, and the peak water requirement is after the fruit set. Usually, the farms irrigated immediately after manuring in the month of December-January.
During the summer days, the crop sprayed at an interval of 7-10 days. After the fruit setting stage, the yield cleaned at weekly periods. Application of water during the fortnight leading harvest considerably increases the fruit colour. After that, till the onset of dormancy, irrigation given at an interval of 3-4 weeks.
Pruning is an essential practice that promotes plant vigour and productivity. It diverts the sap flow towards the fruiting branches and forces the plants to bear more fruits or induce vigorous vegetative growth. When pruning, weak-growing and infected attachments separated from the tree. Usually, the trees lopped every time in the period of December-January. The systems of pruning used in apple farming are as follows.
Established Spur System: The objective of this pruning is to develop permanent fruit spurs for the production of fruits. To ensure the formation of stimuli on the laterals, the central leader cut back every year and the solid erect laterals near the prominent leader. This leads to wide-angled strong laterals for the formation of spurs.
Regulated System: Regulated pruning is practised generally on apple cultivars growing on semi-dwarfing and vigorous rootstocks. Before planting, the tree’s central leader cut back at 75 cm, on which three well-placed primary branches allowed to grow. In bearing trees, leader and strong laterals encouraged by pruning weak and crowded branches.
Renewal System: In vigorous cultivars, instead of developing permanent spurs, the objective is to encourage continuous growth of new healthy shoots, spurs and branches every year. A tree pruned every year to produce fruits in the following year on the new shoot growth, while the unpruned details have fruit buds.
Insect Pests: The insect pests mainly observed are San Jose Scale (Quadraspidiotus pernicious), white scale (Pseudoulacaspis sp.), woolly apple aphid (Eriosoma lanigerum), blossom thrips (Thrips rhopalantennalis) etc. be effective in controlling the pests.
Diseases: The infected plant parts need to be destroyed. Application of copper oxychloride, carbendazim, mancozeb and other fungicides are effective in controlling the diseases.
Typically the apples are available for return from September-October saving in the Nilgiris, where the season is from April to July. The fruits mature within 130-150 days after the entire bloom stage, depending upon the variety grown. The ripening of fruits compared with colour, texture, quality, and unique flavour development. The fruits at the time of return should be uniform, firm and crisp. The colour of the skin at development ranges from yellow-red depending on the variety. However, the optimum time of harvest depends on fruit quality and the predetermined period of storage. Due to the start of dwarf rootstock, handpicking advised to reduce bruising due to fruit fall during construction harvesting. Along with this Eicher 380 tractor model is excellent and gives high performance. Also, it designed with the latest technology.
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