Want To Start an Orchard – Here’s What You Need To Know
Orchards may not be as popular as they once were, but more and more people understand their importance nowadays. An orchard is not just an area for your fruit trees, but also a source of calmness, peace and enjoyment in these stressful times. Therefore, here is a quick guide to starting an orchard.
Planting an orchard is not as simple as you may think – there is more to it than sticking a few trees in the ground, watering them from time to time and hoping that something will grow. On the contrary, an orchard requires patience and planning, so it is important to know a lot of things in advance.
The best way to gather proper knowledge is by reading books written by experienced orchard owners or consulting a professional orchardist. Only after you are completely certain what you are doing should you start this venture.
Deciding on a Location
You cannot take just any piece or land and decide to plant fruit trees there. Knowing that orchards last decades and surpass several generations, you need to think their location through over and over. It needs to include four important factors that will help your trees grow – soil, water, air and sun – and the best location for an orchard is a south-facing slope.
Some of these four elements can be manipulated, regulated and enhanced if necessary. Soil can be drained, aerated and its pH factor can be manually adjusted, while the water supply can be regulated with a drop-by-drop irrigation system. Furthermore, if your slope is on a small hill surrounding a valley, your trees will receive enough natural light.
The size of your orchard depends on the size of the land you have dedicated to it. “The more, the better” is what many orchardist might say, but it is not always the case. With bigger orchards comes more responsibility and work, so you should decide how much effort you want to include in it.
Most people opt for about ten acres of land when starting a commercial orchard, but, if you want to go bigger than that, do not forget that you will have to hire additional work force, as well as machinery and equipment.
When thinking about investments and predicting a budget for an orchard, you have to take several things into consideration – preparation, planting and maintenance. In case your land is not in perfect conditions, you might have to spend some money on enhancing the soil, while the amount spent on planting depends on which types of fruit trees you choose and how much their retail price is.
Finally, maintenance includes irrigation, the workers you will have to hire to handle mowing, picking and spraying pests, as well as the money invested in fertilizer and pesticides.
It is essential to spray your orchard against pests and insects in the late winter or early spring. Also, another spray is generally applied when the trees are in bloom and then again before the summer. Both are absolutely necessary if you want to eliminate diseases and help your fruit trees become healthy.
The best way to spray them is by using backpack sprayers with an accessible pump and sprayer – they are placed on your back and can turn your spraying into an enjoyable stroll through your orchard.
After all of these have been taken care of, you need to think about protection against intruders, fruit thieves and wild animals that might want to feast on your fruits. Once that is done, your orchard is ready to start making a profit.