The desire to find ways and means of improving quality and yield of apples is an ongoing pursuit.
Many criteria are integral to the quest, but more than any other, 'improving light interception' is high on the agenda.
One of the trials seeking optimum light interception is The Helios project initiated by HL Hutchinson.
In 2019 The English Apple Man visited one of the two trial sites with Rob Saunders, Hutchinson Agronomist leading the Helios project.
Click on: HELIOS 2019
Thinking Outside the Box
Hutchinsons horticultural team continue to think ahead and outside the normal realms of agronomic advice, by initiating and investing in a ground breaking 10 year project in top fruit, called HELIOS (Hutchinsons Enhanced Light Interception Orchard System).
The HELIOS project is based on the simple premise that the ultimate yield of apples is relative to how much light the tree can get.
The HELIOS Concept
The theory: whether consistently higher crops of quality fruit is achieved if the tree is able to capture more sunlight.
How: By redesigning the canopy and tree architecture, it should be possible to intercept more light which should result in higher yields.
The HELIOS project has been set up to test if this theory can be proven - how yields can be increased and an orchard can be established more cost-effectively.
There are two orchards of Gala set up, one in the West Midlands and one in Kent. Growers will be invited to the sites for opportunity to keep track of how the project is progressing.
Setting Up From Scratch
"We are planting trees from different root stocks, thinking of different support systems and redesigning the way the trees grow so that less light is wasted by getting to the orchard floor. We have thought about more of a canopy in a simple horizontal plane with little depth i.e. flatter canopies more open to the light," - Rob Saunders, Hutchinsons Agronomist
At The National Fruit Show Hutchinsons featured the Helios project with an excellent video explaining the project principles.
Click on HELIOS VIDEO
That is all for this week
The English Apple Man