We grow our some of our apples and pears using a unique method, as developed by nurseries like Fleuren and Hostetler Farms. Knipboom fruit trees are relatively unknown in Canada, but are now the standard in Europe. With a little change of operations we can get a larger tree which will bear fruit sooner, compared to traditional chip budded trees.
With this new growing technique, the trees are grafted in spring, planted and left to grow for a year, then cut around the 65cm mark while dormant; we keep the lower part of the tree pruned until May in the second year, which pushes the trees into an explosive growth during their second year, as shown below. Traditionally chip grafted trees just don't have that advantage and only grow as whips, with possible feathering. Our trees are a mix of knipboom's and chip budded(grafted) trees: some are feathered and some are whips, and some we consider 2-year grade trees (Knipbooms).
Whips & feathered trees: these are 1 meter minimum including roots, whips have no branching, and feathered trees have some branching.
2 Year/Knipbooms: these are 1 meter minimum including roots, with 3 or more branches 30cm or longer.
On staking and straightness: over the years, we have begun staking less and less; while this means the trees do have a little more character, it also means they have endured the weather, on their own. They have bent back and forth in the wind, building layer after layer of lignin. Lignin is key to building cell walls in trees (bark), and responsible for creating strength and rigidity in a tree. They are strong and have stood the test of 80km winds, that heavy, wet snow in late October and winter ice storms, and come out more resilient than before.