The rock-star, cold-hardy apple from Minnesota.
Fruit Tree Height & Spacing
You are probably eager to know just how many trees you can plant on your land. Perhaps you would like to grow not just apples, but also peaches, pears, and cherries. Perhaps you are hoping to collect all the apple varieties whose names start with “A” (Ashmead’s, Akane, Anna … ). Whatever your goals are, the guidelines on this page will help you plan your slice of paradise.
There are several reasons why trees need adequate spacing: In order to properly care for your tree, you need to prune it every year and mow around it regularly (if the area is planted with grass) during the growing season. This means you need to be able to maneuver easily around the tree when it is mature. Additionally, proper spacing allows for good airflow and light penetration, both of which are necessary to the health and productivity of a fruit tree. As is often the case in the universe of agriculture, there are no hard and fast rules for tree spacing, but you do need to give a tree enough space to achieve its full “treeness” so you need to know roughly how big the mature tree will be.
Below we have outlined some very rough and ready dimensions for mature trees, but these should be adjusted to accommodate varieties that are extremely vigorous such as Mutsu or Northern Spy. For example, a modern orchard will plant Honeycrisp on dwarf G.11 rootstock at a spacing of 3' between trees and 10' between rows, and use a renewal pruning system to keep them contained and fruitful. Honeycrisp on G.11 will reach a height of about 10' and a diameter of 6-8' if allowed to reach its full capacity. By comparison, Mutsu will reach a height of 12'-14' on G.11 and require 8-10' between trees. Don’t worry if your trees are crowded later on down the road. You can always compensate with summer pruning.
If you are planning to use a special training method such as espalier, you should research the spacing that is appropriate to that training.
Guidelines for Tree Spacing
The table below is intended to provide guidelines for spacing. The spacing recommendations refer to the average spread of a tree with a permanent scaffold system.
- As a general rule, keep your trees at least 6' from a structure or fenceline unless you are growing espalier.
- The final diameter and height of a tree will vary significantly according to numerous factors that include variety vigor, pruning, and growing conditions.
- If a pollenizer is required, it should be within 100 feet of its partner tree.
- For further reading about planning garden spacing, check out Tips on Planning a Fruit Garden at Dave’s Garden and Fruit Orchard Design for Small Spaces at Mother Earth News. Homesteaders will find great advice on forums such as homestead.org, which has published Planning the Homestead Orchard.
|Tree Species||Size Class / Rootstock||Space Between Trees||Space Between Rows||Approximate Height of Mature Tree|
|Apple||Dwarf = B.9, G.11, G.214, G.16, G.41, M.9 NAKB337||8'||16'||8-12'|
|Apple||Semi-Dwarf = G.202, G.935, M.26, G.222||10'||18'||10-14'|
|Apple||Half-Standard = G.890, M.7, G.969, G.30, G.210||14'||20'||12-16'|
|Apple||Semi-Standard = MM.106, MM.111||18'||25'||15-20'|
|Apple||Standard = B.118, P.18, Seedling||30'||40'||16-30'|
|Pear||Dwarf = Quince, Pyro 233||8'||15'||11-15'|
|Pear||Semi-Standard = OHxF 87||12'||18'||16-22'|
|Pear||Standard = OHxF 97, Seedling||18'||22'||18-25'|
|Tart Cherry||Dwarf = Gisela, Krymsk 5,6,7||12'||18'||14-18'|
|Tart Cherry||Standard = Mahaleb, Krymsk 99||18'||24'||18-25'|
|Sweet Cherry||Dwarf = Gisela, Krymsk 5,6,7||14'||20'||12-16'|
|Sweet Cherry||Standard = Mahaleb, Mazzard||20'||28'||18-25'|
|Peach, Apricot, and Plum||Seedling, Nemaguard, and Guardian||12'||18'||12-13'|
A slender-spindle, high-density orchard with no permanent scaffolds will average 3-4' between trees and 10-13' between rows, with adjustments made for the vigor of the variety and the fertility of the soil. All Geneva rootstocks are appropriate for high-density production.
Trees Per Acre
The chart below provides guidelines for trees per acre in large orchards. The top row designates spacing between trees, while the left column designates space between rows.
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