I'm a student in Mizzou's agroforestry program and I'm intending to write a paper on apple (Malus spp.) varieties and cultivars that might work well for establishing in multi-tree species silvopastures. There seems to be more research and discussion about sheep grazing among apple trees than there is for cattle, yet I know grazing cattle under apples is common in parts of central Asia (e.g. Kyrgyzstan) and Europe (e.g. Poland). Ideally, I'm looking for something that could be planted in actively grazed pasture with the protection of tree shelters, poly wire, etc. The regions I'm thinking about would be the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and northeast U.S.

These are some characteristics that I think would be of importance for such an apple tree:

-size: something between semi-dwarf to standard (full-size) so the tree is sturdy enough to withstand some rubbing of the trunk and a high enough canopy to minimize damage from browse. If anyone knows of trees with particularly sturdy bark, I guess that could be a plus as well.

-deep roots: drought resilient, resistant to some hoof trampling of root zone, (ideally) low competition with herbaceous forages.

-easy to establish: low or zero need for irrigation and other inputs aside from maybe a little compost and some manure from grazing animals.

-low maintenance: minimal pruning required once established, pest/disease resistant

-low input: ideally no need for spraying and fertilized by grazing livestock.

-fodder production: palatable/nutritious fruits (and possibly leaves) for cows, ideally a decent fruit yield with a somewhat predictable fruiting/harvest window.

-long lived: since tree is planted primarily for livestock and wildlife.

-Note: maybe trees in this sort of system could be topworked or managed to provide apples for an additional enterprise but at this point that's a lower-priority consideration.

If anyone has an tips they'd like to share on varieties or cultivars, methods for establishing, comments regarding important characteristics to consider, or anything else that might be helpful, I'd appreciate it! I can also be reached at mbfagan44@gmail.com


Matt Fagan

Views: 260

Comment by Peter Allemang on March 6, 2022 at 10:19am

That's a great research topic. I'd pay to see results. 

Comment by Matthew Fagan on March 8, 2022 at 11:37am
Hi Peter- I see on your profile that you are grazing lambs under apple trees? What sort of rootstock do you have? Do you have any issues with tree damage from the lambs? Any special management considerations?
Comment by Peter Allemang on March 9, 2022 at 8:09pm

My trees are mature and semi-feral, so they're standards. No issues with damage. The lambs often liked to eat various apple leaves. I'll be keeping them out of some newly planted seedlings for... some years. 


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