Key research findings

Training systems

Yield tended to be highest in the ‘High’ and ‘Ultra-High’ density Open Tatura trellis (on D6 and QA rootstocks) attributed to fruit size. More intensive tree management may be required to ensure adequate colour development in Open Tatura systems.

Planting Densities

Growers seeking to maximize yield should consider high density (~ 2200 trees/ha) plantings on D6, or Quince A rootstocks (with Beurre Hardy interstems). There was no yield benefit from increasing tree density from ‘High’ to ‘Ultra-High’ (~4400 trees/ha), consistent with predictions from economic modelling.

For growers wishing to remain with moderate planting densities (~1100 – 1400 trees/ha), D6 is so far the most attractive rootstock option with moderate crop loads and good fruit size resulting in maximum total yields and pack-out as trees approach maturity. By contrast, in low density planting systems (~700 – 1100 trees/ha), crop load and fruit size of trees on QA rootstocks in fifth-leaf was sufficient to maximize total yield and pack-out yield while avoiding oversizing of fruit.

Pictures of high density plantings on rootstock D6, and Quince A with Beurre Hardy interstems.

ANP-0534 on D6 roostock

Open Tatura trellis with 4 leader trees at 1m spacing

ANP-0534 on Quince A rootstock with Beurre Hardy interstem

Open Tatura trellis with 4 leader trees at 1m spacing

Deliza ANP-0131 on D6 roostock

Open Tatura trellis with 4 leader trees at 1m spacing

Deliza ANP-0131 on Quince A rootstock with Beurre Hardy interstem

Open Tatura trellis with 4 leader trees at 1m spacing

Lanya ANP-0118 on Quince A rootstock with Beurre Hardy interstem

Open Tatura trellis with 4 leader trees at 1m spacing

Lanya ANP-0118 on D6 roostock

Open Tatura trellis with 4 leader trees at 1m spacing

Experimental design

In the planting systems experiment, an extensive range of training systems and tree densities are being compared.

Trees are grafted to rootstocks D6, BP1 and Quince A (with Beurre Hardy interstem) and planted at densities ranging from 741 to 4444 trees per ha. The trees are trained as multi-leader trees (2, 4, 6 or 8 leaders) on Open Tatura trellis, single or multi-leader trees (2, 4 or 6 leaders) in vertical hedgerows, freestanding central leader systems or as a vase (the control treatment).

Dr Ian Goodwin introduces the Planting Systems Experiments in the Pear Field Laboratory as apart of the Profitable Pear Project - Tatura, Victoria

Canopy architecture is an important consideration when designing training systems. Light interception should be maximised to optimise yield potential while avoiding excessive internal shading or over-exposure of fruit that can compromise yield and fruit quality. Choice of training system may prove to be particularly important to ensure good colour development of the 'red blush' characteristic of the new pears and avoid sunburn. Canopy light interception, internal canopy light characteristics, yield and fruit quality are examined in the Planting System and Rootstock experiments. The data will be used to validate a light interception model so that the effects of alternative training systems, row orientations and tree densities can be simulated.

Dr Ian Goodwin at Tatura Pear Field Laboratory with a single leader tree training system

Single Leader Tree Training System

Dr Ian Goodwin at Tatura Pear Field Laboratory with a Two Leader Tree Training System

Two Leader Tree Training System

Dr Ian Goodwin at Tatura Pear Field Laboratory with a Multi-leader Tree Training System

Multi-leader Tree Training System

Dr Ian Goodwin at Tatura Pear Field Laboratory with Open Tatura Trellis

Open Tatura Trellis

Table 1. tree training and tee density treatments in the Planting Systems experiment. Each of these has the 3 rootstocks.

Tree density
Tree trainingLowModerateHighUltra-High
Open Tatura
(2-D)
8 leader cordon 
2m spacing
6 leader cordon
1.5m spacing
4 leader
1m spacing
2 leader
0.5m spacing 
 1111 trees/ha1482 trees/ha2222 trees/ha4444 trees/ha
Vertical
(2-D)
6 leader cordon
3m spacing
4 leader
2m spacing
2 leader
1m spacing
1 leader
0.5m spacing
 741 trees/ha1111 trees/ha2222 trees/ha4444 trees/ha
Traditional
(3-D)
Vase
3m spacing
Central leader
2m spacing
Spindle
1m spacing
Slender spindle
0.5m spacing
 741 trees/ha1111 trees/ha2222 trees/ha4444 trees/ha

Tatura trellis systems are commonly reported to produce high yields due to increased light interception. However, yields are not always significantly improved compared to alternative systems. For example, 'Golden Russet Bosc' pears planted at low density (797 trees/ha) in parallel hedgerows (palmette) produced similar yields to those planted at medium density (1594 trees/ha) on Tatura trellis during the first decade of orchard life (Elkins et al. 2008). Similarly, comparisons of training systems have reported higher early yields from multi-leader systems compared to single leader trees in some, but not all, experiments (Musacchi 2008, Elkins et al. 2008). Costs of establishing and managing (including time spent training and pruning trees) each system in the Planting System experiment will be recorded.

Dr Ian Goodwin discusses various pear tree training systems at Tatura's Pear Field Laboratory (Agriculture Victoria) in January 2016

Table 2: Profitable Pears Orchard - Planting systems experiment (list of trials A to L)

Code.SystemStyleSpacingRootstock
/ Cultivar
AOpen Tatura4 Leader1 m BP1 x ANP-0131 (DelizaTM)
BOpen Tatura8 Leader, Cordon2 m BP1 x ANP-0131 (DelizaTM)
COpen Tatura2 Leader0.5 mBP1 x ANP-0131 (DelizaTM)
DOpen Tatura6 Leader, Cordon1.5 mBP1 x ANP-0131 (DelizaTM)
EVertical6 Leader, Cordon3 mBP1 x ANP-0131 (DelizaTM)
FVertical2 Leader1 mBP1 x ANP-0131 (DelizaTM)
GVertical4 Leader2 mBP1 x ANP-0131 (DelizaTM)
HVertical1 Leader0.5 mBP1 x ANP-0131 (DelizaTM)
ITraditionalColumn2 mBP1 x ANP-0131 (DelizaTM)
JTraditionalVase3 mBP1 x ANP-0131 (DelizaTM)
KTraditionalColumn0.5 mBP1 x ANP-0131 (DelizaTM)
LTraditionalColumn1 mBP1 x ANP-0131 (DelizaTM)
Virtual Orchard Tour - A look at tree structures in the planting systems experiment

360 degree photos of tree structures

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This project, AP12002 Profitable Pears: Maximising productivity and quality of new pear varieties, is funded by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources with co-investment from Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited using the apple and pear levy and funds from the Australian Government