Plum/Damson Orchard Renovation
I was recently called to a farm in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, to renovate a very neglected Plum and Damson orchard.
The site looked much more like a woodland than an orchard, with suckers shooting up all over the place.
As a result of such dense growth, the trees were very tall with the fruit growing only at the very top of the canopy, completely out of picking reach.
It was only at the edge of this wood/thicket that branches were able to grow at a reasonable picking height.
The farm is under a HLS plan and the idea with this orchard was to return it to somewhere near it’s original state of an ‘orchard’ rather than a ‘woodland’.
The trees were thinned out to an average spacing of 10-15 foot.
Many of the oldest trees were left for their wildlife value. Some of them being fantastically gnarly, full of holes and cracks.
Other trees were severely ‘pruned’ to a height of 3 foot in order to encourage a new head at half standard height. This tree in the picture has a diameter of 3 inches were it has been ‘pruned’, yet it was around 25-30 feet high!
I will follow up from this first session over next few years by pruning trees such as the one pictured to create well shaped crowns and by selectively thinning out more trees to allow the younger trees to mature with plenty of space for good light penetration and air circulation.
This is how I left the first year’s thinning.
Posted by Tom Adams on 14th August 2009, under Orchards