Plant of ancient origins from the Transcaucasian regions, widespread in many parts of the world. The most known subspecies is the malus communis pumila, from which most of the varieties of apples present on our market have been obtained. Other species are used for the production of rootstock plants. Apple growing is widespread also 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 serrated edges, flowers are composed of five pinkish-white petals. It produces round-shaped fruits whose size and color vary according to the many varieties currently grown. In recent years there has been a tendency to suggest old varieties of apple trees now abandoned, which have excellent organoleptic characteristics and above all a great resistance to the most widespread diseases. Apples, as well as for fresh consumption, are used by the industry for the production of jams, juices, jellies and for drying.
There are many rootstocks used for the apple tree, the most widespread are the franco, dolcino, paradiso, and the various clonal rootstocks. The graft on the franc gives a great development, making the plant very long-lived and enhancing the characteristics of the fruits, but it comes into production very late. Dolcino and paradise are used to obtain very small forms with the advantage of having abundant and early productions, in fact, with these rootstocks you can pick apples already from the first year after planting. The other rootstocks obtained from dolphin and paradise clones are classified according to the vigor they give to the plants grafted on them, they are used exclusively for production orchards and their choice varies according to the type of variety, the type of soil and from the climate of the area where the orchard is to be made.
As with many other plants, fertilization is also recommended for the apple tree, possibly made every year, with well-mature manure or other organic origin fertilizers, supplementing 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 the putting to fruit, remembering that potassium it has a marked influence on fruit coloring.
Pests and diseases
The animal parasites that attack the apple tree are: the aphids, which nest on the shoots and on the leaves crumbling them; scale insects that can damage the branches, leaves and fruits, significantly weakening the plant; the moth that is a larva that feeds on the shoots and leaves and finally the carpocapsa, a larva that feeds on the fruits irreparably damaging them. As far as the most famous fungal diseases are concerned, we point out the powdery mildew which is a white mold that appears on the leaves and on the buds and the scab that affects leaves and fruits with necrotic brown spots.
A) Sapling breeding
To form an apple tree as a sapling it is necessary to plant a sucker, which must be immediately cut to a height that can vary from 120 to 170 cm above 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 will have to be preserved by shortening them to twenty centimeters which, in the course of 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, thus making a solid supporting structure for the foliage. For this type of shape it is recommended that the rootstock the franc, or a clonal of high vigor.
B) Dwarf pot breeding
It is one of the most suitable forms for small gardens and for ease of construction, it will therefore be necessary to plant a sucker for one year and immediately cut it at 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 at 20 cm from the starting point, from which, in the course of the second year, six branches will be obtained arranged in a circular manner around the stem. These branches, once sprouted in the extremity, will produce the final foliage. For this form it is recommended that the rootstock is a low vigor clonal.
The botanical name of the apple plant is malus; this plant usually flowers in May and its fruits can take on different colors depending on the variety they belong to. Plants of this type should be planted in the ground in the autumn, usually in November, even if, if there are adverse weather conditions, which bring a high degree of humidity, it is good to postpone the planting until January. To calculate the distance to keep the plants, you need to know which variety they belong to. In the case of malus plants of limited height, it is possible to distance them by about 2 meters, while for large ones it will be necessary to provide for 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 reason it is possible to intervene with mulching material, also useful for maintaining the right degree of humidity for the soil.Melo - Malus: Malus cultivation
To obtain healthy and luxuriant apple trees it is good to put them in a soil with a good draining power, rich in nutrients and with the presence of little limestone. These plants are successfully grown in mountainous or hill areas, as these trees have no problem withstanding low temperatures. These trees can also be planted in full sun, though having the foresight to place them in an area that is 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 fruit, as they could counteract 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.