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Hello.
I would like to have an orchard. Mainly apples for cider, with perhaps a few different plums, quinces, pears and cherries. Is it better to start with a new plot and plant young trees or buy an existing orchard with older trees. I would like to be seeing a good crop within 2 years.
Thanks
James




Answers

 

This is a big question, most people ask advice on a plant or two, but a whole orchard! It sounds like a question that you should be asking face to face with someone local as buying an orchard sounds like a big expense with lots of other considerations besides cost. An established orchard would already be fruiting and would be the obvious answer depending on how far away it is from your house, etc. I would seek professional advice on this one especially if you intend to run it as a business.

3 Dec, 2011

 

That's what we started out to do about 4 years ago now, but out here, there are no orchards as we would describe them, and we wanted good English fruit trees, too. I don't know where you live, but I'm assuming it is somewhere in the UK.
We started out by using the internet a lot and found a fruit tree specialist in Buckinhamshire, went to see them and sampled a lot of the fruit (this was in September), took LOTS of advice and eventually bought a mixture of 2 and 3 three year old trees, mostly apple, and tried to include some old and unusual, not to say rare varieties. They were put into the roof box of the car and driven across Europe and planted in our mountain garden. We had no idea how they would fare in the very different climate, but they have pretty much all done wonderfully well, but flowering and fruiting much earlier than we expected. This has been our first year of what we would call proper harvesting, and we can't wait for ever increasing harvests in coming years. HOWEVER, I think expecting what you describe as a good crop within 2 years is more than a little ambitious. These things take time, and although you will undoubtedly get some fruit in the first or second year after planting and establishing your trees, there won't be that much, I wouldn't have thought.
I think it also depends on just how much space you have and how many trees you are expecting to end up with. There will be failures and disappointments.
May I recommend this website before you start? There are some useful things on here:-
http://www.orangepippin.com/trees.aspx
The other site and company I would recommend is:-
http://www.bernwodefruittrees.co.uk/index.htm
This second company does a very comprehensive and informative little catalogue which is definitely worth a look before you make any decisions.
Are you expecting this to be a commercial orchard or one solely to supply your own needs? How does one go about finding an orchard for sale? I would have thought them to be pretty rare.
I shall be really interested to know what decisions you make and how you progress. Good luck.

p.s. we have 15 different kinds of apple trees, 2 kinds of pear, quince, plums, cherries and hazelnuts, all doing rather well.

3 Dec, 2011

 

In my experience, a new plot, properly chosen and conditioned, and young trees will give you the best results in the long run. On the other hand, new trees will take anywhere from 3 to 7 years to start bearing, no matter what size you plant them at. With an older orchard, you will be inheriting the consequences of the previous owners' mismanagement--or, sometimes, the rewards of their good management!

3 Dec, 2011

 

a; Is this to be a commercial enterprise?
b; Are you experienced in cider making?

If the answer to a is yes and b is no, ask professional advice from a cider maker first as to what varieties will be best suited.
If you were to start from scratch, it may be a good idea to get a professional soil analysis done first (if possible) before parting with your money (assuming that it is to be a commercial project).

The advantage of buying an existing orchard would be "instant" fruit - you could take out weaker trees after the first year and replace with your preferred varieties.

One thing to bear in mind with starting from scratch is protection from wildlife such as deer - young trees will need protecting and this is a cost to bear in mind.

3 Dec, 2011

 

Not all apples are good for the production of Cider and most cider apples are no good for eating. So it would be important to know exactly what trees you are buying. It is not as straight forward as just buying an established orchard if the fruit does not make good Cider.

Advice from a Cider maker would be the first thing to do, they also would be able to advise you about production scale and how many trees [and therefore how large an orchard] you would require.

Good luck with it though, it sounds like a fantastic project.

4 Dec, 2011

 

Yes, we wish now that we'd done more research now about planting at least SOME cider apple trees (you can rarely find cider out here) and have tried brewing using mixed windfalls of cookers and eaters with very little success. Shame.

4 Dec, 2011

 

you need to be sure too that you have the correct varieties to pollinate each tree, some apples for example flower early and would not pollinate a variety flowering late-- as already clearly said you need lots of information before you start and also where in the country and what position soil etc. in a frost pocket you'll regularly lose the plum and pear blossom for example

4 Dec, 2011

 

Not much use but i believe that to be an orchard you only need 5 or more trees and with grafted ones around, they don't need to be that large.

5 Dec, 2011

 

You're right Nickt, it is generally accepted that 5 trees constitutes an orchard, but I suppose that by definition an orchard is more than one tree so two could be technically classed as an orchard.

Just about all apple trees sold now are grafted trees and most trees will be grafted onto dwarf root stock that are low growing for ease of harvest, especially in commercial orchards where cutting labour costs is a prime factor.

5 Dec, 2011

 

Thankyou all very much for your very helpful replies. Special thanks to Gattina for such wonderful detail. Sounds like you are living my dream.
Our plan is in the very early stages. We are probably a couple of years away from buying the land so there's lot's more time to research. I know a bit more about cider than I do about farming. I think we'll probably end up somewhere in the west country. It would be great if it was commercially viable, but it is only one part of a grander plan so it doesn't necessarily have to sustain us on its own.

6 Dec, 2011

 

Ooh, Fff, - could you consider coming to live out here and starting up a cider brewery, please? Land's cheap, and we are desperate for a drop of the good stuff - you have no idea how we beg visiting friends and family to bring us bottles of ANY cider - that and malt vinegar! Oh, and decent apple juice, too. There are hundreds of ex-pats who would beat a path to your door. Only joking! (well almost)
If you want to chat with someone else useful, you could do worse than e.mail Robin and June Small & Sarah Lawson at SANDRA LAWSON <sasalawson@btinternet.com>. They own and run Charlton Orchards near Taunton. http://www.charltonorchards.com/ Lovely people!
Not sure why I am telling you this - you probably know all about it anyway! I think maybe you are considering living MY dream!

6 Dec, 2011

 

Im glad that you found the information helpful. Well, you're like me, I know more about cider than I do about farming too. HIC!

Gattina, can I come and live with you? I'll bring a few crates of cider and a few bottles of Sarson's as well ? LOL

6 Dec, 2011

 

No Malt Vinegar..! Balsamic is no good for chips or tripe..
Watch Myron Gattina I think he would palm you off with non brewed condiment...;0)

6 Dec, 2011

 

Hey! what are you trying to say Pimpernel? If I turn up at a ladies house it will be with Champagne, not Pomagne, haha. I'll have you know that I live not far from the Sarsons vinegar factory so it will be the good stuff, proper malt ;o)

6 Dec, 2011

 

The vinegar may be OK then Gattina...Bet the Cider is White Lightening..!

I spotted Gat's pad before you Myron...but out Mate.

6 Dec, 2011

 

Well, lovely though it is to be fought over, guys, or rather to have my pad fought over, not sure what Mrs M or my OH would have to say about that! Myron, generous though the thought is, I really don't like champagne - it gives me a headache - give me a good prosecco any day. LOVE White Lightning, P. - Wow! Don't really rate balsamic vinegar, either: the cheaper ones are overrated and overused, and I can't afford £90 for a tiny bottle of the good stuff just to put it on ice cream or strawberries. As you can see, I'm a bit of a cheap date, really. There just isn't any alternative to malt v. when it comes to making chutney, is there? Ruins chips, though.
OK, we're doing one of our (in)famous GoY diversions here - let's get back to the subject before we get our wrists slapped or before Fff gives up and goes home in fright or desperation.

6 Dec, 2011

 

OH DEAR!

7 Dec, 2011

 

;-)))))

7 Dec, 2011

 

Lol..

7 Dec, 2011

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