Growing your own apple orchard can be challenging but rewarding. If the idea of having readily available ripe apples and freshly squeezed juice and pies sounds appealing, consider starting your own apple orchard.
If you have the land and possess the drive, you can turn it into a business opportunity, and with the right planning and execution, it can be a lucrative venture. Even if you want to pursue it as a hobby, you can still earn a small profit from the surplus harvest if you start an apple orchard in your backyard. If you are wondering where to start, read this article to learn what you need to start your own apple orchard.
How to Start an Apple Orchard
A considerable amount of planning must go into starting an apple orchard. It is because you must carefully consider and assess all the factors involved in planting an orchard, as they will eventually impact the quality of the apples and the sustainability of your orchard. Here are a few factors you may want to consider in this regard.
Location, Tree Type, and Orchard Layout
Before starting the orchard, you must carefully select the site. Ideally, the plot should be warm and sunny and receive sunlight for at least six to eight hours daily. The size of the trees you choose to plant must be according to the size of the plot. It is usually difficult to harvest full-sized trees as they require considerable space between them.
Ideally, the trees must be planted far enough to allow ventilation, reducing the risk of diseases or fungal infections. Consider growing semi-dwarf trees to have the maximum number of trees. Next, you must consider the variety of apples and sample a few varieties to decide the best ones. You can also opt for a mix of varieties, but if you want a good yield, ensure to get diseases-resistant apple trees, which usually come in hybrid form.
Prepare the plot with the right ingredients to get the best out of the orchard. For this purpose, you can conduct a soil test to identify any nutrient deficiencies and cater to them by adding apple tree fertilizer before planting. You may also need to loosen the soil to encourage good growth. One way to go about this is to break the ground around the sites where trees will be planted.
To plant the tree, you can either start with seedlings or saplings. Saplings are usually sold as latent bare-rooted plants in dirt. You will need to transfer seedlings to their designated growing spot once they are big enough.
Once the trees have been planted, you must focus on managing their growth and protecting them from disease. Keep the trees well hydrated and add mulch around the tree base to encourage moisture retention.
It is recommended to prune fruit trees during the initial year when they flower. All you need to do for apple trees is pinch off the flowers on the tree. This will encourage foliage and root development in young trees.
At the same time, keeping the orchard safe from any diseases or infections is important. If you have opted for disease-resistant varieties, you have already taken the first step towards preventing fungal infections like apple scabs and diseases from common pathogens.
Depending on the size of your orchard, you may need additional help for your orchard management, particularly for pruning or harvesting. Whether growing apples for personal use or selling, you must also have a plan for apple storage.
If you do not have a root cellar or a cold storage facility, you can turn your basement or garage into a storage room. Apples are ideally stored in cold and dark places with good air circulation. Prefab metal garages may offer a practical solution. You can even use the space to keep your tools. However, if you are storing apples, keep them loosely covered and ensure that the storage space is cold and has plenty of air circulation.
You may have a basic understanding of what goes into starting an apple orchard, but you can use this information and conduct further research to make a solid and feasible plan for success. If you are thinking of starting the venture for commercial purposes, start it as a hobby on a small scale and then use the experience and couple it with an action plan to turn it into a profitable business. Seeing the fruits of your labor will be a highly rewarding experience.