Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Critical decisions will have to be taken for successful growing of Fan or Espalier trained fruit trees

Many people like to plant apple or pear trees in the form of an espalier or fan shape, along a wall or a fence.
North-facing walls are only suitable for Morello acid cherries or damsons. Pears need a higher input of warmth compared with apples. A south-facing aspect is best for pears.
Frequent watering and mulching are essential as it can be very hot in that situation, at the height of the summer months. A South-facing wall is also suitable for peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots.
Next, one has to decide about the support system used in such situations; if it is a wall then the height of the wires is important. If it is a fence, then the spacing of the supporting stakes is also of importance.
For example, with apples, you first have to make up your mind whether you want to grow your trees on M26 or on MM106 rootstock. M26 (a rootstock that creates a weaker tree) will need a stronger support system compared with MM106 trees.
For espaliers on M26 trees, the planting distance should be 10 feet, with the union just 2” above soil level.
No more!!
For espaliers on MM106 trees, plant 12–14 feet apart. The union can be any height above soil level.
The stakes will need to be 8’ tall and 1’6” in the ground.  Only if your soil is very sandy, your posts will need to go 2 feet into the soil.
Space the stakes at the same distance as you space the trees. Make sure the stake wood has been treated against wood rot fungi.
It is likely that the first wire will be 15 to 18 inches height above soil level, to coincide with the natural side branches of trees, already formed.
Moreover, to put the first wire at 12” above soil level is a mistake, as fruit rot can be a major problem due to soil splashing during heavy rainfall.
If the soil quality is really good, then I would plant trees on M26, three meters apart.
If there is any doubt about the depth of good dark, well aerated earth, then plant FERTILE apple varieties on MM106, four meters apart. The fruit variety choice will be critical, to avoid excessive wood growth in later years. Peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots can also be spaced four meters apart.

2 responses to “Critical decisions will have to be taken for successful growing of Fan or Espalier trained fruit trees

  1. Down to Earth Stroud March 4, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks for the blog post. It seems like you confused the M26 and M106 rootstocks in the third paragraph as the M26 being larger than the MM106. As the rest of the article is correct, it’s obviously just a typo but I thought it would be worth correcting.

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