It is too late to head the trees back now, plus it is counter productive to 
head Tall Spindle trees.  The whole point of the tall spindle to develop a tall 
and narrow tree with weak laterals not strong laterals.   If you head them back 
you get strong lateral branches and trees with “scaffold” branches that grow 
too strongly for the 3 foot inrow spacing of the tall spindle. The lateral 
branches will naturally fill in over the first few years but with weak lateral 
branches instead of “scaffolds”.  Where trees did not have enough feathers at 
planting we have had good success with a spray 500-1000 ppm of Maxcel (This is 
5-10X the rate used for thinning) at 10-14 days after planting.  It works 
except when excessively cool in the spring.  Where there were not enough 
branches from the nursery or from the Maxcel after planting then we “notch” and 
paint or spray Maxcel anytime from  green tip to pink in year 2.

Terence Robinson
Dept. of Horticulture
Cornell University

From: apple-crop 
 on behalf of "<>" 
Reply-To: Apple-Crop discussion list 
Date: Monday, July 3, 2017 at 8:31 PM
To: Apple-Crop discussion list 
Subject: Re: [Apple-Crop] To head, or not to head: that is the tall spindle 

In our apple orchards in the tropics the endless season would result in
whips 12'+ tall if we didn't intervene.

I'd cut them back to 5' tall and notch above every bud to encourage
lateral branching; this should have been done in April when they just
started to push. I'd probably still do this now, though I'm open to hearing
from others why you shouldn't.

Kevin Hauser
Kuffel Creek Apple Nursery
Riverside, California
Nakifuma, Uganda

On Mon, 3 Jul 2017 16:25:04 -0500, Doug Nelson
Forgot to mention the picture I have attached is an example of one of
poorly feather trees. My wires are two feet apart so you can see that
tree is almost seven foot tall.
On Jul 3, 2017 4:22 PM, Doug Nelson 
I'm in my second year of growing apples. This year we planted 5000 apple
trees tall spindle style. These will be used for upick.
The nursery I bought from gave me about a thousand terrible trees with
almost no feathers.
I have sprayed heavily with Maxell to encourage lateral bud growth. Has
work that well.
My Orchard is located right next to one of the Chicagolands largest
commercial tree nurseries. The field manager of the nursery recently
stopped by and told me he would encourage lateral growth by heading all
these poorly feathered trees.
I know the rule with tall spindle is generally you never had the tree,
I think the assumption  is that you have a lot of feathers.
Has anyone ever headed poorly feather trees to encourage lateral growth?
What were your results?
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