What are fruiting spurs on apple trees and why do some cultivars have more than others?

Apples September 19, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

The term fruiting spurs does not have a universally agreed upon definition. Most fruit scientists consider fruiting spurs to be short shoots, usually less than 6 inches long, with a rosette of leaves just behind a fairly large bud at the tip of the shoot. the large bud (the terminal bud) is usually a flower bud, from which a cluster of five flowers will emerge the following spring. Spurs arise from portions of a branch that are at least two years old. The density or the number of spurs per foot of branch length is characteristic of a cultivar or strains of cultivars. For example, spur-type strains of 'Delicious', 'Golden Delicious' and 'McIntosh'  have higher densities of fruiting spurs than non-spur strains. Cultivars such as 'Tydeman's Red' and 'Rome Beauty' have low densities of spurs.

-Rich Marini, Penn State University

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