Apple falls under rosaceae family with scientific name Malus pumila. It is believed to be originated from Southern west Asia, Eastern Europe and Southern West Siberia. Wild relatives of Apple like Edimayal and Surkhilo are found in Nepal from a long time ago which are very close relatives of modern improved varieties of apple.
Districts of Nepal like Jumla, Manang, Dolpa, Mugu, Humla and Kalikot are famous for commercial cultivation of apple in Nepal.
Apple requires chilling hours of 1000 – 1500 hours below 7 degree Celsius for its successful cultivation. Average altitude of 2000-3000 m above sea level in Nepal are very suitable for commercial cultivation of this crop. Average temperature required for active growth of apple is 21-24 degree Celsius. After flowering in apple, low temperature, rainfall and snowfall and climatic fluctuations will cause poor pollination leading to poor production.
Sunny days are essential for better growth of apple which is generally required from Jestha to Bhadra month. It helps in secretion of anthocyanin for better color development in fruits. Proper distribution of rainfall (200-250 mm) from Chaitra to Bhadra is necessary with no frost and hailstone during flowering stage. Drought in soil during fruit development may cause small fruit size and higher June drop.
Soil of all types with better drainage system and higher fertility status are suitable for apple. Moreover, loamy soil with higher organic fertilizer and soil depth of 30 cm top soil, pH of 5.5-6.5, no water logging is optimum for apple cultivation.
Cultivars of apple according to chilling requirement are mentioned below:
High chilling cultivars:
They require more than 1000 hours of temperature below 7 degree Celsius.
- Red delicious
- Royal delicious
- Golden delicious
- Rech -a red
- Red chief
- Mc Intosh
- Well spur
- Granny smith
- Vance delicious
- Red spur
Mid chilling cultivars:
They require 600 – 1000 hours of chilling temperature i.e. below 7 degree Celsius.
- Red June
- Cox`s orange pippin
- King of pippin
Low chilling cultivars:
They require 400 – 600 hours of chilling temperature i.e. below 7 degree Celsius.
- Tropical beauty
For the vegetative propagation of apple, bench grafting, In-situ grafting and micropropagation techniques are adopted. In case of apple, most successful method of grafting is tongue grafting which is done in Magh Falgun month.
Top working is done to force fruiting in old trees or to produce different improved cultivars in local varieties.
Hexagonal and square system of orchard establishment is adopted in plain areas whereas contour system is practiced in hilly region. Pit size is of 1 m * 1 m * 1 m. Planting distance depends upon rootstock, climatic condition, cultivars and many more.
|Scion cultivar||Rootstock cultivar||Spacing (m * m)|
|MS 109||6 * 6|
|MS 111||6 * 6|
|M 7||4.5 * 4.5|
|MM 106||4.5 * 4.5|
|M 9||1.5 * 1.5|
|Seedling||5 * 5|
|MM 109||3.5 * 3.5|
|MM 111||3.5 * 3.5|
|M 7||3 * 3|
|MM 106||3 * 3|
Pit digging & Filling:
Pit digging is done during the month of Chaitra / Baisakh. Pit size is 1m * 1m * 1m keeping top and sub soil separately. Mix 20 kg FYM, 50 grams bone meal, inorganic fertilizers, pesticides with top soil and raise the pit above 1-1.5 ft above the surface of ground. Planting can be done using planting board.
Fertilizer requirement depend upon soil type, age of tree and fertility status of soil. The fertilizer dose required is mentioned below:
|Age of plant||FYM (kg)||Urea/plant (grams)||DAP / plant (grams)||MOP / plant (grams)|
Apply compost manure, DAP and potash during months of Mangsir / poush. Nitrogen fertilizer is applied in two split doses i.e. during new flushes and next after 1 month of flowering.
Irrigation & Mulching:
Irrigate the seedlings after transplanting and after that do not let lack of moisture in soil with irrigation management. Irrigation from Falgun to Bhadra month is essential in the orchard.
Interculture crops i.e. cash crops like Rayo, cucurbit crops, beans, pea, cauli, Jukeni, pumpkin, radish, carrot are cultivated for short term earning.
Plastic and crop debris are being used as mulch in apple orchard field nowadays. Mulch helps in conserving moisture, controlling weeds, and provide nutrient in case of crop mulch.
Training and Pruning:
- Trained in Modified leader system or open Centre or vase system
- It is done by cutting the young plant to a height of 60 cm from the ground and allowing 3-4 branches to develop.
- The height from the base to the first scaffold branch should not be less than 40 cm.
Flowering & Fruiting:
The flower bearing spur develops in 2-3 years old branch of apple. So, during pruning, such branches must be carefully observed. If grafted in dwarf cultivars of some rootstock like M9, flower may be produced in tip part of branches as well. Each spur will give 7 flowers where it requires temperature higher than 10 degree Celsius during this stage.
Fruit thinning is very essential operation in case of apple as it bears high crop load. It will ensure yearly proportionate flowering and bearing. Chemical or manual method both can be adopted to thin flowers. 20-40 leaves for each flower is better for apple fruit growth.
Harvesting is done as soon as fruit matures. If it is supplied to local market, harvest at full maturity however, if it is to be transported to long distance market, pick fruit before full maturity. However, picking at very immature stage will cause wrinkling of fruit during storage.
Cut the peduncle at level to fruit surface with help of scissors. Each tree will give @ 30-90 kg fruits at better management practice.
Learn the disease and pest management of this crop from here.