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  • 1 Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1325

The objective of this experiment was to design orchard systems and tree shapes that optimize production based upon light interception. `Montmoreney' on `Mahaleb' rootstock was established at the Clarksville Horticultural Research Station in 1982. The following factors were investigated: a) tree shape; free form, Δ triangle and • rectangle, b) tree height to clear alleyway width ratios; 1.5, 2.0 and 2.5, and c) tree density 3.0×4.5 m, 3.0×6.0 m. Tree shape was established beginning in the 3rd leaf by summer hedging on an annual basis at the end of stage II of fruit growth. Beginning with the 4th leaf, light interception in each system was estimated by measuring the light interception below the canopy at hourly intervals after full canopy development. In 1989, yields ranged from 14,000 to 22,000 Kg ha-1. Ripening was delayed for rectangle shaped trees, with a height to clear alleyway, width ratio of 1.5, spaced 3.0×4.5 m, likely because hedging reduced leaf to fruit ratios. Within a tree form, yield was linearly related to % light interception, however rectangular trees were more productive than triangle shaped trees. The relevance of this study to orchard design will be discussed.

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