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Distance to plant fruit trees

There is considerable controversy as to what is the proper distance between fruit trees. It is impossible to give any hard and fast rule as to the proper distances as it will differ materially with climate and soil conditions, and the characteristic growth of the variety. There is always a tendency to plant trees too close.

This is undoubtedly due to the fact that there is a desire to use as much of the land from the beginning as possible, and because newly set trees always have the appearance of being farther apart than necessary.

Experience has proved that serious losses in the amount of fruit produced accompany close planting. Not only is the crop reduced, but orchard operations such as cultivation and spraying are interfered with in closely planted orchards.

It is believed that apple trees should not be set closer than twenty five feet in commercial orchards, and that in most instances, thirty to thirty five feet will be found preferable.

As previously stated, there is a considerable area unused by the trees in a newly set orchard. One of the methods devised for using this area is to plant temporary or filler trees. These fillers are either earlier bearing varieties of the same kind of fruit or some other kind of fruit. The fillers are left until they begin to crowd the permanent fruit trees when they should be removed. It is doubtful whether the use of fillers should be recommended.

The fact that most sorts are quite early bearers precludes the use of earlier varieties of apple as fillers for the apple orchard. The peach is largely used as fillers in the East and South but is not sufficiently hardy, for culture in the North, and if fillers are to be used the American plum seems to be the only fruit available.

There is another objection to fillers which makes their value ueestionable. Most growers leave the fillers so long before removing in that the permanent trees are seriously injured. Perhaps the fault should not be charged to the system, but so long as it constantly occurs it needs to be considered. The grower should be confident that he is willing to remove trees producing good crops in order that all the trees may not be permanently injured. Fillers are not necessary for the utilization of the open area between newly set trees.