Well-branched nursery trees have a significant impact on early cropping for intensive apple orchards. This study has been carried out to determine the most convenient branching treatments by using the plant material of 'Mondial Gala'/M.9 nursery trees. Five treatments including control, T budding+PR, knipboom(50), knipboom(70) and fruitful tree (a new approach) were assessed for branching effects. The branching treatments significantly increased the number of branches (>25 cm) in comparison to control. The best results for branch number, spur number, brindle number, trunk diameter, total leaf area, tree height and trunk diameter were obtained from fruitful tree treatment in both trial years. Knipboom(70) appears to be the second promising treatment following fruitful tree treatment with respect to nursery tree quality criteria and physiological characteristics. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.