Apple fruit is very common and table fruit just like a banana. There are different varieties are cultivated in hilly and higher altitude areas of Pakistan of apple fruit. Apple fruit farming is generally preferred in the higher altitude with 1700-2500m from the sea level. Apple tree is generally cultivated in the northern areas of Pakistan like in Murree Hills and in Baluchistan like ‘Quetta’. There are some farmers who have done apple fruit farming in plain areas of Punjab. In this article, I will discuss apple tree farming with all aspects regarding its production technology. There are the following outlines under which the whole article will be discussed,
- Climatic conditions
- Nursery preparation
- Land preparation for apple tree
- Plant protection for apple tree
- Fertilizer and irrigation
- Harvesting or picking of apple fruit
Where does the apple tree grow
Apple fruit farming needs specific kinds of climatic conditions. Apple belongs to temperate fruit and these temperate fruits are deciduous in nature and need more chilling hours for their rest period. Apple tree is one of fruit which needs more chilling hours than other.
Apple tree in Pakistan
As it is mentioned earlier that apple tree needs higher altitude with lower temperature. Apple fruit farming in Pakistan is done in hilly areas of Pakistan. There are some varieties which need low chilling requirement like Enna, Kalla Kulu etc. One of these varieties grown successfully in plain areas of Pakistan. It is also very important to mention that apple fruit taste and color will be good if it is grown on lower temperature while those varieties which are grown in plain areas with higher temperature will seems to be inferior than those which grown in higher altitude.
How long does it take for an apple tree to bear fruit?
There are many things should understand that apple fruit bears it maiden bearing after completing the period of vegetative juvenility. So, what exactly means about that, let me explain that an apple is budded or grafted on a rootstock. A rootstock of 1.5-2 years old is selected and budded or grafted with the desire scion variety. Then after successful union fruit is planted in the land or orchard. A three-year-old plant starts bearing fruit after 1-1.5 years. Now, nurseries are available where different varieties can be purchased. Red and golden delicious varieties are high chilling varieties that are more suitable for Murree Hills whereas low chilling varieties are selected for lower altitude areas like Enna, Ein Shameer, Kulu, etc.
How nurseryman prepares a complete plant
Apple tree is made up of two parts rootstock and scion. The very first thing that a nurseryman who is preparing for the apple fruit nursery, should select the proper rootstock. There are different rootstocks are used like crab apple, M-1, M-7, M-9. Every rootstock is specific for its characteristics like crab apple which is used very commonly which is adaptive in nature and more suitable for hard land and used for hilly areas.
Once, the rootstock is selected then seeds are extracted in the month of May-June and store until the month of December. In December seeds are sown and then grafted or budded after two years old rootstock.
Note: you need to clarify that budding is done when there is an active growth period and grafting is done during the dormancy period in December. A complete becomes ready for sale after 3 years of hard-working.
Land preparation for apple fruit farming
There is a different planting system. Apple fruit is cultivated majorly in hilly areas where land is slopy and needs a specific kind of care. A contour planting system is preferred in hilly areas where land is slopy and sod culture is preparing for water preservation. But, on the other hand, it increases the food and water competition. In hilly areas with contour planting system irrigation is done by making terrace channels which is very useful. In plain areas square system is preferred.
The whole procedure is the same for land preparation for an apple tree. If the land is plain then laser leveling and land should be fed up with well-rotted farmyard manure so that organic food gives more nutritive supports for a whole lifespan. A hole is dug up to 3ft depth and later after 2-3 weeks it is filled with sand, silt and farmyard manure with 1:1:1 ratio and plants are transfer with a plant to plant and line to line distance 6-8 m.
Are apple trees hard to grow?
Apple fruit is very specific it will survive more if it meets up the requirement like temperature apple can survive with the little duration with -30oC and bears 15-20oC the highest temperature. More the higher altitude with more optimum lower temperature, more apple fruit will be a sweeter and good color.
Plant protection for the apple tree
Apple tree needs care according to place, environmental conditions, etc. There are a lot of varieties in apples that are self-unfruitful due to less pollination. Cross-pollination is more preferable to self-pollination. So, it is suggested that give a friendly environment to the honeybees or make use of pollinizers to overcome the cross-pollination of an apple tree.
Hail storms in the Murre Hills are destructive in nature and this is a climatic factor and cannot be controlled. Sometimes, hard wind storms destroy completely the apple trees. In contour planting where sod culture is allowed to grow makes the competition more for food and water. So, it is suggested that cut off the extra grass under the apple tree canopy.
There are many pest and diseases can attach to the apple tree. Codling moth is one of the important and common destructive pests and it is suggested that apply the suggested insecticides with the recommendation. In plain areas, where apple fruit is grown in lower altitudes and higher temperatures can give the fungal attacks opportunities on apple trees like powdery mildew and apple scab.
Note: it is very important to know that apple tree pruning should be done. If you don’t know about pruning then it is necessary to make awareness. In this technique, undesirable and unwanted shoots are removed from the full blooming apple tree which helps in the good size and quality of apple fruit. It is also recommended that apple tree height should be controlled so that apple fruit harvesting could be done easily.
Fertilizer and irrigation
There should be a proper annual plan should be scheduled for food and water for an apple tree. Organically, soil enrichment is recommended first by application of farmyard manure under the canopy of each apple tree. This plan can be achieved from the agricultural departments. For irrigation, it is suggested that water requirements should be applied according to the soil type, climatic conditions. Initially, apply water 2-3 times a month. In Murree Hills, rainfall makes the irrigation proper whereas in Balochis tan water requirement is fulfilled with a special type of channels called Karez.
Harvesting and picking of apple fruit
Fruit picking should be done at a proper maturity by observing different maturity indices like apple fruit color, size, etc.
I hope you will be able to find some valuable information and give a comment below regarding the topic and stay tuned!