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A friend of mine and I want to start producing cider, but from scratch: He inherited a property which we want to clear up, plant apple trees and eventually produce apple wine (a common beverage in some regions of Germany). We are aware that this is a 10+ year project.

I'm a biologist, so I know the basics, but I don't know much about agriculture. I'm looking for literature on how to select, plant and maintain apple trees (the wine-making part is not relevant at this point). A general agriculture book will also do for now. The literature doesn't have to be easy, I'm completely ok with research papers or university-grade books.

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How large is the property?

I'm skeptical that research papers or university-grade books will give you the information you're looking for. There's practical information that you really want to know that won't be in those kind of books.

"The Backyard Orchardist" is a decent general reference on fruit trees.

Barbara Damrosch's "Garden Primer" is an excellent general gardening reference that includes a good treatment of fruit trees, with specific coverage of apple trees.

Regarding selection, you'll want to talk to local growers for varieties that do well in your area. You'll also want to talk to winemakers so that you can choose varieties that are good for wine. The people that you talk to can probably give you tips on techniques for dealing with local pests and diseases.

One topic that seems to be well-covered by university-level research (and not well covered in the consumer/grower-grade literature) is IPM (integrated pest management). Just keep in mind that cutting-edge research doesn't always translate directly into practical applications.

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  • Thank you for your reply, very helpful! The property has an area of around 1560 m² (16800 ft²). We will for sure get in contact with locals. – Eekhoorn Nov 25 '12 at 19:26
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In the US, there's often good information from local county extensions, and from universities. Some examples:

http://orchard.uvm.edu/uvmapple/ForBeginners_ApplesJanuary2006.PDF http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/pdf/mgtguide/ch07_managing_abandoned_orchards.pdf http://www.aces.edu/home-garden/lawn-garden/veg-fruit-nuts/index.php#Fruit

It's usually better to get information from a source close to you geographically, because they'll have the information you need for your local climate and local pests. Certain varieties are better adapted to certain regions. Since you're in Germany, that probably means universities in Germany, which probably publish in the German language. Since I don't know German, I won't be able to find those resources for you.

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I think the following book matches your needs (in terms of content, level, style, etc.):

Apples: botany, production and uses

From publisher site (emphasis is min):

This book, with contributions from 40 scientists from 8 countries, summarizes the current research information on apples and their culture, and will be of value to horticultural students, research and extension workers, and professional fruit growers. The 24 chapters are presented in 6 parts. Part I, the introductory section, considers taxonomy, and world production and trade. Parts II-VI cover the following aspects: Plant materials (breeding and genetics, cultivars, rootstocks, and propagation and planting stock); Apple physiology and environmental influences (flowering and fruiting, water relations, light relations and temperature); Orchard and tree management (site selection and orchard establishment, nutritional requirements, orchard floor management, pruning and training, planting systems, thinning and the vegetative: fruiting balance, and endogenous growth regulators and growth regulator application); Crop protection (diseases, ecology and pest management, frost protection, integrated fruit production and organic production); and Harvesting, handling and utilization (fruit maturity and ripening, harvesting and handling, storage, physiological and pathological disorders, and production and handling techniques for processing apples).

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I would suggest looking at recent/modern info on high density orchards - you should get more apples on a faster timescale with the appropriate rootstocks and management. e.g.

https://ag.umass.edu/sites/ag.umass.edu/files/pdf-doc-ppt/highdensityapple.pdf

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