How to Grow an Apple Orchard?
To grow an apple orchard is considerably a difficult task. For growing apples in an orchard, you need to have or acquire a lot of skill, knowledge, patience, time and effort.
For an orchard full of fruits, there are only two mantras â hard work and knowledge. While the former is something that you need to have intrinsically, knowledge is something that you can always acquire. And your first step to that starts here.
Choosing the Right Cultivar:
The first step starts with choosing the right cultivar. In todayâs world, numerous cultivars have been developed commercially. Pristine, Liberty, Williams' Pride, Redfree, Jonafree, Enterprise and Goldrush are to name only a few. While selecting the right cultivar, there are a couple of points that you need to consider:
â¢ The ripening and blossoming season
â¢ The type of soil it needs
â¢ The climate that is best suited for it
â¢ The average size and height of the cultivar
â¢ The amount of space needed for healthy growth
Depending on the climate that you live in, the soil you have, etc, you need to choose the right cultivar.
Choosing the size of the tree:
Depending on the type of orchard you want and the location of it, you then need to select the plant type. There are two basic types of apple plants â the dwarf-sized and the standard-sized. The dwarf-sized plants are easy to maintain. They need lesser space and the average plant size being only about 10 feet, the fruits can be plucked easily as well. Hence, this is more suited for a smaller, personalized orchard. The standard-sized, on the other hand, grows into large trees, about 15-20 feet. Hence, they need a large space and a good amount of maintenance.
Location is an important factor for healthy growth of any kind of tree and apple is no exception. Apple trees need a lot of sunlight. Morning dew is one of the important factors that cause mold and diseases on apple trees. Early morning sun evaporates the dew, thereby negating this factor. They also grow well in soils with a sandy texture that drain off very easily, thereby leaving no excess water behind.
Planting apple trees need a lot of careful attention. Ensure that the roots are moist enough before planting them in the soil. Dig a trench to place the plant inside it. Now, place the plant in the trench, spread the roots well and then cover the trench. For the dwarf-sized plants, maintain a distance of 8 feet from each other and 14 feet between each row. For the standard-sized plants, maintain a distance of 10 feet from each other and 16 feet between each row.
Pruning is an important step that ensures the growth of a healthy apple tree. March is the best time to prune apple trees. At the early stages, chop off the branches that show signs of decay and infestation. Prune the branches regularly (once in every month) and ensure that the tops are pointed. This would allow the lower branches get maximum sunlight. Remove the unwanted branches of the tree to maintain its balance.
Selecting the correct fertilizer and applying them on time and in right proportion definitely ensures a healthy growth of apple trees. Conduct a soil test after every two years to understand the kind and quantity of the fertilizer needed.
A timely care, a keen and attentive eye and a regular maintenance will definitely result in a great apple orchard. Follow these rules and apply them well on your orchard and enjoy the delicious, juicy apples that you would get from them.
Photo Courtesy: blog.lib.umn.edu