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 There is probably not a single gardener who has not heard of the column-shaped apple tree. And there are enough supporters and opponents of this culture. What is the peculiarity of "columnar" and what should be paid attention to when choosing a variety? Let's find out.

General characteristics

A column-shaped apple tree is a tree, or rather a trunk, which practically does not give any side branches in the usual sense, there are only small branches covered with ringlets (short shoots with underdeveloped side buds). And such an apple tree is obtained due to the heredity it carries in itself.

There is no way to make an ordinary apple variety into a column-shaped one. Among the huge variety of column-shaped plants, there are forms with completely absent side branches, as well as those with quite a few side branches. But both are considered column-shaped. Why?

Differences from ordinary apple trees

There is a concept of "branching pattern". In ordinary varieties the branches are deflected away from the trunk and form a spherical or spreading crown. Column-shaped apple trees have branches which bend away from the trunk at an acute angle and grow along it, so the "column" without formation looks like a pyramidal poplar. In addition, the trunk of a column-shaped tree is abnormally thickened and covered with small growing branches, on the ends of which flower buds are formed. The shoots of a "column" are thick, with very shortened internodes, and the side branches never become as powerful as those of a regular apple tree.

So what does the presence of side branches depend on? First of all, it is a varietal distinction. Most "columns" at the age of 3-5 years form some number of lateral branches (from 1-2 to 20-30).

The number and strength of side branch growth depends on several factors: planting density, nutrition, weather conditions, crop load.

If you want to have a "strict column", the branches will have to be completely removed. If there is no such task, you can let them grow freely, and then the column will form a narrow pyramidal shape.

Strength of growth

In column-shaped apple trees, even without taking into account the influence of dwarf rootstock, the trees are so different in growth strength that it surprises even specialists: an annual "column" can have a height of 1.5 m, and maybe even 15 cm. Superdwarf "column" grows by 10-15 cm for a year, in the first years it gives only single fruits and grows yield very slowly.

Strong-grown "column" already in the second year can give 4-5 kg. But in three years, the plant grows up to 3 m. There are also medium-grown and semi-dwarf "columns", which in 5-6 years reach 1.5-2 m.

Interesting: Almost all commercial varieties, which are now sold on the market, have a growth force close to average.

Fast Growing Power

Among columnar varieties, there is also a significant diversity in this trait. Some varieties start to bear fruit in the third or fourth year, some in the second year, and the most early-fruiting ones in the first year after planting.

The sign of the highest early-fruitingness in some modern varieties (e.g. "Moscow necklace") allows already now to create gardens, the yield of which in the first year is 450-600 c/ha.

The best modern orchards, the so-called intensive orchards, provide such yields in the fifth-seventh year. Conventional apple trees planted on our plots, only on the fourth or fifth year bring the first, sporadic fruits. During this time, the best columnar varieties yield 30-40 kg of fruit per tree.

Productivity (yield per unit area)

As a rule, the column-shaped apple-tree surpasses the usual apple-tree in this indicator, especially in the first years of growth. By the way, it should be clarified that the difference in productivity of column-shaped varieties is significant. Sometimes varieties differ 10-20 times in this feature. The most vivid example of this is the exceptional productivity of varieties "Moscow Necklace" and "Garland".

Winter hardiness

Young columnar plants are sometimes damaged by frosts (-30°C), especially the tops suffer.

The top tends to grow long and often does not have time to prepare for winter. The reason lies in the weather conditions of late summer and excessive watering and fertilizing, which are abused by gardeners in the second half of summer. It is advisable to finish feeding by June 20th. However, paradoxically, and the absence of watering can, on the contrary, provoke frost! Therefore, it is necessary to water moderately and as needed. And in the case of extremely hot and dry summers, do not allow the growth to stop.