This cultivar trial was originally planted at a 30 by 30 foot spacing back in 1991. After 24 years of tree growth the limbs of adjacent trees were getting close to touching and very little sunshine penetrated to the orchard floor in mid-summer. In fact, several portions of the orchard were actually past due for tree thinning.
Before cutting a single tree, I mapped out the entire orchard recording the locations of weak trees or trees badly injured by wind or ice storms. I knew I would be cutting down 50% of the trees during this once-over thinning operation. However, with map in hand, I could choose a thinning plan that would maximize the removal of "problem" trees.
Once all the trees were cut, I could look across the field at a 45 degrees from the tree rows and see an entire diagonal row of trees had been cut (photo at left).
After removing felled trees from the field, the orchard looked wide open with plenty of space for the remaining trees to grow wide canopies. The remaining trees are now spaced 42.4 feet apart.