How to Grow an Apple Orchard

How to Grow an Apple Orchard

An apple is one of the most delightful fruits that can be relished either in its raw state, or be added as an ingredient in delicacies. Wouldn't it be great if you could pluck one from your backyard, and eat it fresh. Well, growing an apple orchard in your backyard, in theory, is quite possible. However, it is not easy and may take years before your efforts bear fruit.
An orchard or a grove is usually defined as a uniform plantation of specified plants. It is planted to commercially produce fruits and vegetables, which are of the same kind. During the plantation of one, uniformity regarding the location of the plant or its species and subspecies is maintained. In Europe, 'mixed orchards' (where a variety of plants are planted) are also found.

The process of planting, growing, and maintaining a grove is very difficult and requires considerable knowledge of botany. The total process requires patience and willingness to work. One cannot reap the fruits (in this case, apples) of hard work until the plants grow and bear fruit.

Cultivars of Apples

At present, many different cultivars have been developed. Before choosing the appropriate one, following points need to be considered.
  • Average size of the cultivar
  • Average height of the cultivar
  • Blossoming season
  • Ripening season
  • Required nature of soil
  • Required climate
  • Required space for healthy growth
Some of the prominent cultivars of Apple trees are; Pristine, Williams' Pride, Liberty, Redfree, Enterprise, Jonafree, and Goldrush.

Dwarf-sized and Standard-sized Trees

According to their sizes, the apple trees can be classified into two types, dwarf-sized and standard-size plants. The selection depends on the location and type of grove. The dwarf-sized ones are convenient for a more personalized and smaller space. These plants are easy to maintain and require less space. Plucking the fruit is also convenient. The standard-sized ones grow into larger trees. These plants require a large space and have to be maintained regularly, which is difficult owing to their large size and lengthy branches. Most of the apple cultivars are available in dwarf-size. An average dwarf-sized plant grows to a height of 10 feet. On the other hand, the standard-sized plant can grow up to a height of 15 to 20 feet.

Location and plantation of trees

Choosing an appropriate location for the orchard is always a tricky task. The apple plant requires very bright sunlight for a healthy growth. The morning dew is a medium through which contagious diseases spread in these plants. The early morning sun evaporates the dew, thus preventing the diseases. Hence, the orchard must be planted in such a manner that it enjoys all the possible early morning sunlight. The apple plants grow well in the soil with a sandy texture and very good drain off.

Actual process of planting

It is best to get small apple plants from nearby nurseries. It is extremely important to keep the roots moist before planting them in soil. If the roots start drying up, then it is advisable to soak them in water before planting. To plant one, dig a trench and place the plant inside it. Make sure that the roots are well spread before covering up the trench. The dwarf-sized plants should be planted at a distance of 8 feet away from each other, and a distance of 14 feet must be left between the rows. The standard-sized plant must be planted at a distance of 10 feet from each other, and it is advisable that a distance of 16 feet is maintained between the rows.

Pruning

The ideal time to prune this tree is March. In the initial stages, cut off the branches that begin to rot or are infested. Prune the top most branches regularly (once a month), and keep the top pointed so as to ensure sufficient sunlight for the lower branches. The unwanted and non-symmetrical branches of the tree must be removed to maintain the balance of the tree.

Fertilization

The orchard must be fertilized appropriately. It is also necessary to conduct a soil test after every two or three years. A timely and appropriate amount of fertilization ensures a good growth of the grove and quality fruit.

The apple tree requires a lot of attention and protection. If the orchard is well looked after, it produces the most delicious apples.
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