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Malini® Topmodel - The new columnar apple from Lubera’s breeding programme


Even if we have launched quite a few new apple varieties for the hobby gardener in recent years, we do not want to miss out on the detailed introduction of this new columnar apple variety, Malini® Topmodel.

The place for Malini® Topmodel in our columnar apple assortment

Just as Malini® Pronto® (sweet) and Malini® Subito® (sour) represent a diversified duo of early (late August) ripening and more compact growing columnar varieties (180-220 cm high after 8 years), the newly launched Malini® Mannequin® (very sweet) and Malini® Topmodel (with a little more pep and acidity) are the somewhat stronger growing duo (300-350 cm after 8 years). Mannequin® and Topmodel also mature a little later, namely in mid-September and they are typical autumn varieties: they are preferably eaten directly off the tree, but they also have a shelf life until Christmas (Mannequin®) or until January/February (Topmodel).

Lubera® tests new columnar apple varieties for 8-10 years

In the second stage of breeding (that is, after the genotype selection), we patiently test 5-20 trees at two locations for 8-10 years in order to know exactly how they grow with and without pruning, what kind of branching they have and how tall they become. Here it has been shown that Malini® Topmodel and her sister variety Malini® Mannequin® (which have the same parents) not only grow significantly faster than Pronto® and Subito®, but they also remain narrower, which means they are less prone to branching, which would then have to be cut back.

Avoid alternation with columnar apple varieties

Unfortunately the two long-legged varieties with the elegant names from the fashion world also have a disadvantage: they tend more towards alternation, meaning they like to bear a lot of fruit in one year and then they yield much less fruit the next year. This can be prevented and compensated by reducing all of the flower clusters to only one remaining undeveloped fruit in a full yield year after the natural fall of fruit in June. The fruit specialists call this work “thinning out”. As a result, the tree is not overburdened in the year of yield and has enough power and juice to grow enough flowers for the following year. The flowers for next year's yield are already being developed in all fruit trees in June to September of the previous year.

The fruit and fruit quality of Malini® Topmodel

Of course, the basis is the fruit quality. If this is not given and is not better than the older varieties, even the most beautiful growth does not help. For both Mannequin and Topmodel, the fruit quality comes from the mother variety Resi, which was our best and most widely used mother variety due to its quality, resistance and yield around the year 2000 (when we made this cross). The columnar growth characteristic comes from the grandfather variety Telamon, from the original Ballerina® series of columnar apples. From Resi, Malini® Topmodel has the firm, crisp, fine-celled flesh, which, in contrast to its extremely sweet sister variety Mannequin, is balanced with a bit of sourness. The fruits of Topmodel have a dark red colour (not striped like Mannequin®) and the shelf life is also slightly better than its sister variety. Especially during this winter (2017/18), when the shelf life of all other apple varieties was rather mediocre, I was positively surprised by the good firmness that Topmodel had at Christmas and in January.

And this is what the 15 year history of Malini® Topmodel looks like:

Malini® Topmodel is literally a Millennium child.

2000 Crossing of Resi with a pedigree derived from Telamon showing the same columnar habit as the Ballerina® apple varieties that were originally bred in England.
2001 Test for resistance to scab and growing the young plants in 5 L pots in the container field.
2002 Grafting onto M26 rootstocks and growing the one-year trees in the outdoor tree nursery.
2003 Planting in the experimental field for the genotypes (1 tree = one genetic unit = one variety).
2006 Selection of the number 92/06 as an exciting improvement of the columnar apple varieties.
2007/8 In the winter, 20 trees of the new variety were grafted and grown in the outdoor tree nursery.
2009 The trees are planted in the trial fields in Egnach and Buchs, Switzerland.
2012/13 The scab resistance of Malini® Topmodel and its sister variety is confirmed – and the fruit quality meets the original selection criteria: crisp, juicy, with a good texture, an excellent and also very beautiful autumn apple with a distinct, slender, columnar growth character. We started propagating Malini® Topmodel, so that we would have enough trees for sale and variety introduction in a few years’ time.
2016/17 The growth character has emerged even more clearly in these years: Malini® Topmodel belongs to the taller growing columnar apples (with a growth height of 300-350 cm after 7-8 years, grafted onto an M26 rootstock) and it remains very slender, with little tendency of forming side shoots.
2018 Lubera Malini® Topmodel is introduced to our columnar apple assortment and sold for the first time.

Recommendations for using Lubera Malini® Topmodel

We do not recommend growing Topmodel in pots (because it grows too high), however using it in the garden is optimal.

Thanks to its slender growth, Topmodel does very well as a solitary plant, as a single pillar and even in pairs to the right and left of a garden passage.

Topmodel can also be planted in a hedge planting (with a spacing of 50 cm) together with other higher-growing columnar apple varieties such as Dulcessa®, Fresco®, Cuckoo®, Equilibro® and Mannequin®.

Equally attractive is a planting in a threesome (triangular-shaped) together with two other similar growing varieties, with a spacing of about 50-70 cm (side length of the triangle).



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