Many people want to use a piece of land to grow food to sell and profit, such as an apple orchard. When you start an apple orchard, there are numerous aspects to consider to help it succeed. Read on to find out what you'll need to get started on your apple orchard and grow your business into a success.
Start With the Land
Before planting trees and tilling the fields, you'll need a place for the orchard itself. The land must possess adequate conditions to ensure the apple trees grow efficiently and remain healthy.
Look for a vast open space with no trees; make sure the land is flat and has no steep incline, as water may drain and overwater trees downslope. Apple trees will survive in many soil conditions, but for the best growth, ensure the soil is sandy and well-drained or consists of loams with decaying organic material to nourish the trees.
Prepare the Ground Throughout
After you've found a location with ideal conditions, you'll need to prepare the ground to plant the trees. If there isn't any decaying material in the soil, add compost and rotten bark to give your small apple trees the nutrients they need to grow.
Take measurements of the soil's pH levels to ensure the nutrients are soluble in the ground and will combine with water as the plant absorbs moisture, resulting in efficient growth. Your soil is essential to the growing process, and you'll want to ensure the ground is fertile to grow as much as possible.
Choose Your Apple Trees
Around 7,500 varieties of apples are grown worldwide, and only 100 are grown in the United States. Be careful in choosing your apple trees, as each will have a certain growth rate and may require specific needs in water and soil. If you select a variety of apple trees, use types that will cross-pollinate easily.
Cross-pollination is an essential part of an apple tree's ability to yield fruit, as a lone apple tree will not have a way to germinate. Some trees will self-pollinate, but it's easier to use trees that will help each other grow for faster results. If you plan to sell your apples at farmers markets, you'll need to plan the growth periods and choose trees you will harvest during a certain period for sale.
Beginners should grow Fuji apples as they grow quickly and produce a large, juicy apple with a slight crisp in every bite. Fuji apples will have a longer shelf life, making them ideal for storage. Choose the tree that will suit your needs and those of other trees for a thriving orchard.
Start With Saplings
It's best to start with saplings when planting apple trees to better estimate how much space the tree will take up. Saplings will begin growing in the ground you've prepared outside compared to seedlings that need to start their journey inside before you can transplant them outdoors. Use potted trees for easier implementation and controlled growth. Mix some of your land's soil into the potted soil and bury it up to the trunk to ensure the sapling and its soil combine to ensure the tree grows well.
Have the Right Equipment
Growing trees will take a lot of time and effort, and it's always best to have the right tools ready when starting such a laborious process. You'll need various equipment to create an apple orchard, which ranges from small handheld tools to large, motorized machines for shaping the land. Use the best products for the best results and to make the process run faster.
A Ladder and Baskets
Harvesting the apples from their trees will require baskets to carry them and a ladder to reach higher places. Buy multiple wicker baskets for future seasons when the harvest is larger and you need to carry more. Ensure the basket is strong enough to sustain the weight of the apples and won't break as you transport them from the orchard.
Use a folding metal ladder made of aluminum for a lightweight and sturdy material. Make sure the ladder has rubber in the rungs to prevent slipping after spring or fall rains.
You’ll have insects in your orchard who want to taste your fruit before anyone else. Insects such as the apple maggot fly and the codling moth are common in apple orchards and feed on fruit or lay eggs inside. Sprayers are essential for keeping these pests away and helping your apples and trees stay healthy. Use Spinosad products in your sprayers to safely coat the trees and fruit and deter insects from going near them.
Mowers and Mulchers
When you first acquire the land, you'll need equipment to prepare it for planting trees. The area may have thick, tall grass that needs cutting to plant the saplings and place soil. Use a mower to cut down the grass and create boundaries. Mulchers will help you produce a dirt and woodchip mixture that will make a great place to plant the saplings once the orchard is ready.
Create a Place for Storage
Storage areas are a must when harvesting apples, especially if you plan to sell your harvest or use them in products for cooking and baking. Keep your apples stored in a covered place with plenty of space that will allow you to store large amounts. Have locks on the door to this space to keep other unauthorized people out.
Supplies for Selling
When you plan to sell your apples, you'll need supplies for setting up shop for your customers. Buy packaging for apples, such as boxes and small crates that will hold dozens, and make sure you have clean paper on the bottoms to prevent moisture from weakening the bottom of the box or causing the wood to rot.
Mesh bags will make a convenient method of packaging and carrying that your customers will appreciate. Use trays and bowls to display your apples for people to take and purchase. Use a whiteboard and thick black marker to advertise how many apples are in individual and bundled amounts. Ensure the board is large enough for people to see clearly, even from afar.
Patience Is Essential
As a final note, patience is essential when growing your apple trees. Patience is necessary for starting an apple orchard, as the process will take time and effort before you see results. The average apple tree will take eight to 10 years to grow to maturity and produce fruit, making this a long journey for you and your orchard. The time spent preparing the land, planting, tending, and eventually harvesting will require significant patience to make the goal feel more manageable.
Starting an orchard isn't easy work, and there is tremendous preparation and work to do. Use this guide to give yourself a head start and grow rows of trees to have the best apples for yourself and anyone you sell them to.