Growing Apples on V-trellis: The Details


Justin Finkler, Riveridge Landing Company’s Farm Manager, presented at the 2016 International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA) conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan recently. Attendees then had the opportunity to come out to our Grant farm location to see V-trellis and vertical trellis systems in person.

Below is a quick synopsis on the details of V-trellis apple growing. Please reach out to us if you’re interested in additional information.


Why V-trellis?MatureOrchardYield

  • Goals
  • Yields of 20 to 30 percent more than vertical system
  • 90 to 100 bins per acre
  • Highest possible pack-out, grow high quality fruit
  • The system lends itself well to work platforms
  • Easier to manage Pruning, Thinning

Diagram of a tree in full production

  • 70 apples
  • 72/80 size
  • 1,800 bushels/acre











Cost of Planting V-trellis vs Vertical trellis

  • Cost of Planting 10 x 3 ( 1452 trees/acre) vertical trellis
  • 4 wire
  • Wood post at 25 feet
  • Drip irrigationTotalCostsinPlantingYear
  • $19,000.00 per acre not including land cost
  • Cost of Planting 12 x 2 ( 1815 trees/acre)

   V- Trellis

  • 7 wire per side
  • Drip irrigation and micro sprinklers for frost protection
  • Steel orchard stakes at 32 feet with steel end post
  • $26,000.00 per acre not including land cost, frost fans or reflective material

Ground Prep / Pre-Planting

  • Soil Sampling grid samples
  • Variable rate soil amendments appliedTiling1 Tiling2
  • Ground is tiled every 30’ to 40’ 4-inch corrugated black tile
  • Deep ground ripping
  • Root removal
  • Cover crop

Planting Techniques

  • Planting with a two-row planterPlanting
  • GPS
  • Auto Steer
  • Planting 15,000 to 20,000 trees/day




Training TechniqueIMG_20160202_135254913

  • Tape leader to string as it grows
  • Tie Down branches to each wire
    • First with green tape (temporary)
    • Then with black electrical tape (stronger, more permanent)
    • Eliminate unwanted limbs or stub back


Graphs courtesy of ANR.MSU

Riveridge Land Company to share V-trellis system learnings  


Thanks to the Grand Rapids location of this year’s International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA) conference, attendees will have the opportunity to tour West Michigan-area orchards including recent V-trellis system apple tree plantings by Riveridge Land Company.


V-trellis system planting at the Grant Farm.

Riveridge Land Company Operations Manager Justin Finkler will be part of a four-person panel on Saturday, Feb. 6 discussing Optimized Training Systems for Fuji, Gala and Honeycrisp. Justin will be sharing details on vertical and V-trellis system plantings from the Grant, Michigan farm.

Information will include goals of V-trellis systems, start-up costs, land prep, nutrition, training techniques and growth to date along with imagery of one- and two-year established V-trellis systems. A comparison to Vertical trellis systems will also be included.

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, IFTA attendees have an opportunity to see first-hand the one-year and two-year V-trellis system growth at the Riveridge Land Company Farm in Grant, Mich.  The Grant location will be part of a multi-stop tour of orchards in the Ridge area north of Grand Rapids.

While the V-trellis system for apple tree plantings has long been established in other parts of world, namely Washington state, Riveridge Land Company is the first to bring the technique for apples to Michigan.

Benefits of the growing system include increased yields, higher color, better pack outs and easier pruning, thinning and picking management. While Riveridge Land Company V-trellis system program is only going into its third leaf, the trees have taken well and more plantings are planned for 2016.