Plant of very ancient origins from the Transcaucasian regions, widespread in many parts of the world. The best known subspecies is the malus communis pumila, from which most of the varieties of apples on our market have been obtained. Other species are used for the production of rootstock seedlings. The cultivation of the apple tree is also widespread in Italy, in fact, preferring humid and cold climates, the greatest concentration of production orchards is found throughout the Alps. The apple tree can reach 8-10 meters in height, has dark green oval-shaped leaves with a serrated edge, the flowers are composed of five pinkish-white petals. It produces round-shaped fruits whose size and color vary according to the numerous varieties currently cultivated. In recent years there has been a tendency to suggest old apple varieties now abandoned, which have excellent organoleptic characteristics and above all a great resistance to the most common diseases. Apples, as well as for fresh consumption, are used by industry for the production of jams, juices, jellies and for drying.
There are many rootstocks used for the apple tree, the most common are the franc, the dolcino, the paradise, and the various clonal rootstocks. Grafting on the franc gives a great development, making the plant very long-lived and enhancing the characteristics of the fruit, but it enters production very late. Dolcino e il paradiso are used to obtain very small shapes with the advantage of having abundant and early productions, in fact, with these rootstocks, apples can be harvested from the first year after planting. The other rootstocks obtained from clones of dolcino and paradiso, are classified according to the vigor they give to the plants grafted on them, are used exclusively for production orchards and their choice varies according to the type of variety, the type of soil and the climate of the area where the orchard is to be built.
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As for many other plants, also for the apple tree it is recommended to fertilize, possibly done every year, with well-mature manure or other fertilizers of organic origin, integrating them with complex chemical fertilizers based on nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and microelements, using percentages higher in nitrogen and phosphorus in spring, to favor the development of the plant both in the aerial part and in the root, with higher percentages of the other elements during the summer until September, to favor fruit bearing, remembering that potassium it has a marked influence on fruit coloring.
Parasites and diseases
The animal parasites that attack the apple tree are: aphids, which nestle on the shoots and leaves, crumpling them up; the scale insects that can damage the branches, leaves and fruits, significantly weakening the plant; the moth which is a larva that feeds on shoots and leaves and finally the carpocapsa, a larva that feeds on fruits, damaging them irreparably. As for the most well-known diseases of fungal origin, we point out the powdery mildew which is a white mold that occurs on the leaves and shoots and the scab that affects leaves and fruits with necrotic brown spots.
A) Alberello training
To form a sapling apple tree it is necessary to plant a sucker, which must be immediately cut at a height that can vary from 120 to 170 cm from the ground. From here, during the first year, other branches will be issued. At the beginning of the second year, at least three of these branches must be kept shortening them to twenty cm which, during the vegetative season, will in turn emit other branches. At the beginning of the third, the latter will also have to be cut to twenty cm, in doing so a solid supporting structure will be given for the crown. For this type of form it is recommended that the rootstock be the franc, or a clonal of high vigor.
B) Breeding in dwarf pots
It is one of the most suitable forms for small gardens and for its ease of realization, therefore a one-year-old sucker will have to be planted and immediately cut 40 cm from the ground, which during the first vegetative year will produce other branches. The following year, at least three vigorous branches will be preserved, which will also be cut 20 cm from the starting point, from which, during the second year, six branches will be obtained, arranged in a circular manner around the stem. These branches, once sprouted at the end, will produce the final crown. For this form it is recommended that the rootstock be a low vigor clonal.
-">C) Palmette or espalier
This type of shape is very useful in case you want to decorate walls or fences. In this case you will have to plant a one-year-old sucker, cut 50 cm from the ground and the following year, keep at least four branches, arranging them on two levels and anchored to a support, which can be an iron wire supported by two stakes at the sides of the plant or to a trellis. For this type of shape it is recommended to use apple trees grafted on clonal rootstocks of medium vigor
The botanical name of the apple plant is malus; this plant usually blooms in the month of May and its fruits can take on different colors according to the variety they belong to. Plants of this type should be planted in the ground in the autumn period, usually in November, even if, if there are adverse weather conditions, which bring a high degree of humidity, it is advisable to postpone planting to the month of January. To calculate how far to keep plants, you need to know which variety they belong to. In the case of malus plants of limited height, it is possible to space them by about 2 meters, while for large ones it will be necessary to provide at least 3/4 meters. In the first years after planting it is good to check that the surrounding soil is not invaded by weeds; for this it is possible to intervene with mulching material, also useful for maintaining the right degree of humidity for the soil.
Apple tree - Malus: Malus cultivation
To obtain healthy and luxuriant apple trees it is good to plant them in a soil with good draining power, rich in nutrients and with the presence of little limestone. These plants are successfully grown in mountain or hill areas, as these trees have no problem withstanding low temperatures. These trees can also be planted in full sun, but having the foresight to arrange them in an area rather sheltered from the wind, especially in the case of particularly windy areas.
To have a good harvest it may be necessary to intervene, after flowering, to remove the excess fruits, as they could contrast in growth and develop little. The operation should be carried out in July, but it is advisable to proceed with caution to avoid removing the best fruits.