Fall 2018

A-plus apples

Photography by Terry Tollefson

While researching ways to grow better vegetables, University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) senior Heidi Reitmeier bit on another idea: producing high-quality apples. 

The horticulture major has been studying whether growing apple trees in a high tunnel (similar to a greenhouse) and using a spindle-pruning technique can improve yields. 

Spindle pruning involves removing thicker branches in favor of thinner ones that attach to a trellis. It allows for high-density plantings that produce more apples in a smaller space.

Growing apples this way extends the growing season by four weeks. In addition, Reitmeier found that spindle-pruned trees grown in high tunnels escaped weather damage and bore fruit that earned better taste-test scores than traditionally grown apples. “I really feel like it was a breakthrough,” she says. Reitmeier presented her findings at a UMC forum. 

The Crookston native says receiving the Freda L. Pedersen Memorial Horticulture Scholarship and others not only helped financially, but also allowed her to pursue her research interests. “It made me want to stay in my field and continue to work hard,” she says.