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Author Topic: Planting a new Orchard  (Read 15923 times)

Scrumble The Goose

  • Joined Oct 2011
  • Berwyn Moutains
Planting a new Orchard
« on: September 18, 2012, 10:26:08 am »
Hi all
I have been researching Apple Orchards & Cider production, part time, for the last year or so, in preparation for planting a new Cider Orchard.
As I will be odering my trees for planting in November I thought I would post the plan to this forum, and see if there is ant feedback, or something I have missed or not considered, before I go ahead & put the spade in the ground. So here goes....
Location: We are approx 1,400 feet ASL in the Welsh Mountains, and the orchard site is West facing, with sun all day, except for the last 20 minutes or so before sunset. We have a shorter growing season due to altitude and spring generally starts 2 weeks later and winter 2 weeks earlier than lower down. The new orchard is not in a frost pocket, although will be exposed to Easterly winds blowing accross it.
Ground: The new orchard will occupy just over an acre of land. The ground is OK to a depth of 18 inches - 2  feet, wherupon it turns to compacted shale & small rocks. Drainage is good. We originally planted potatoes on the land, 5 years or so ago, but it hasn't had anything grown on it since then. I have currently moved our 11 sheep onto the land, to chew off the grass, in preparation for planting later this year.
Plan: To plant 60 - 80 trees, mainly Kingston Black, Crimson King, Major and Harry Masters Jersey, with Bramleys as back up / in fill. I'll space in 15 - 20 foot rows / columns in a traditional manner.
The varieties have been chosen because of mid - late (and mutual) flowering and polination (late frosts up here!) and as a good mixture for cider production.
The root stocks I originally planned upon are MM106 (half standard) although I know think I may be better with MM111 (standards). The MM106 are smaller in height (therefore surviving winds) but the MM111 are full height (not so good in winds) but are better with shallow soils due to a bigger root foot print.
I am interested in all comments....
A (AKA Scrumble the Goose)
Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Bala, North Wales
    • Facebook
Re: Planting a new Orchard
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2012, 10:46:27 am »
I have found these guys really helpful (spect you have come accross them) and intend to buy my stock from them this winter in the vague hope that they will be 'acclimatised'!!  You have better (deeper) soil than us but are quite a bit higher (we're only 250m).  I am learning a lot here - I thought fruit trees needed frost?  Our little orchard, which was here when we came, is in a frost pocket.  Doesnt do very well mind you  ;D - lots of the trees are diseased!

Victorian Farmer

  • Guest
Re: Planting a new Orchard
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2012, 10:53:21 am »
Every year orchards are purchased or planted by people who have no experience in growing apples. For some, an orchard will be a challenge and a source of personal satisfaction and profit. For others, it may be a source of frustration and a bad investment. It’s important to become familiar with the business of producing and selling apples before investing your time, energy, and money. Here are some points you should consider if you are thinking about starting or purchasing an orchard.
If you have had no previous experience in orchard management, consider working for a successful orchardist for at least a year to learn about the operation. If that’s not possible, be certain that a competent manager or qualified consultant can be employed before you decide to purchase an orchard.
Orchard Size
Apple production requires a lot of labor. A permanent labor supply for spraying, pruning, and general maintenance must be available. Additional seasonal labor will also be needed for harvesting and packing the fruit. Although every farm system is unique, 10 acres could be considered a minimum size for a commercial apple-growing enterprise. A 10-acre operation is large enough to use equipment efficiently and implement a continuous orchard renovation program, yet small enough that one person can take care of most of the work. Larger orchards can make more efficient use of machinery and equipment, but more hired labor, and thus more management skill, will be required.
Apple growing is an enterprise that requires a great deal of knowledge on the part of the orchard owner or manager. Making a profit growing apples in Minnesota (or anywhere else) can be done only with intense management, from variety selection through planting, training, controlling pests, thinning fruit, harvesting, handling, and marketing. If you are considering orcharding as a career or a business opportunity, you must be willing to learn about and keep up-to-date with production practices.
Start-Up Costs
Apple growing requires a very substantial capital investment. Many potentially successful orchards have failed simply due to lack of sufficient operating capital. Be sure you have the capital to purchase and operate an orchard before signing any agreement or sale contract. From the year of planting until the year that crop returns equal or exceed annual costs, the apple grower will make a large investment. Dwarf trees may begin bearing a small crop their third year in the ground; these trees will not reach full productivity until the sixth or seventh year after planting. i hope this helps i would love to do this but with temps of minus 22 i dont stand a chance                                           
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 11:02:03 am by Victorian Farmer »

Simon O

  • Joined Mar 2010
  • Bonkle
Re: Planting a new Orchard
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2012, 10:54:11 am »
That is great what you are doing - we are planning to do similar up here and I would like to include some cider varieties. I think MM106 probably will be suitable. Like yourself we intend to have a traditional type orchard though I think that if we were more commercially minded and thinking about maximising yield and ease of picking we would have some sort or cordon system. I have planted a number of cordons of local varieties with the garden but within the orchard area intend to go for the bigger trees.
I am not sure about the Bramleys - certainly a great apple but I am not sure your situation is ideal for it. We have a number of old Bramleys in the garden and they do not do very well (we are at about 500ft ASL and in very wet west of scotland, heavy soil). I suppose if you see them growing well locally you will be fine.
Although obviously not local to you Andrew Lear (appletreeman) near Perth is a good source of info and advice for us in Scotland at any rate and I am sure he would be hapy to give you advice over the internet - you can find him by googling.
Apples have been shocking for us this year due to the late frosts I think and no plums whatsoever.
I look forward to hearing about your progress.


  • The Accidental Smallholder
  • Administrator
  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Carnoustie, Angus
    • The Accidental Smallholder
    • Facebook
Re: Planting a new Orchard
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2012, 10:58:02 am »
Great plan! :tree:
We planted 80 apple trees in the early spring this year, and plan to do the same this year. We are at sea level on the east coast of Scotland though, so I can't give any advice on varieties. :)
Some lessons we did learn the hard way:
Get some decent secateurs. I bought some Felcos from Amazon - expensive, but given the investment in the trees they are well worth it.
Rinse your secateurs in a 10% bleach solution between trees. I spread canker to a group of trees by not being careful enough about hygiene (using old secateurs before I got my Felcos). :(
Invest in decent grass/weed suppression at the trunk. We're running hens under our trees and my first efforts were destroyed in a matter of days. Now I'm using weed suppressing fabric under chicken wire, and it's holding up well.
I put up some windbreaks - the fabric wasn't hugely expensive and it makes a massive difference. At your altitude it will probably be even more effective, if you can anchor it.
Buy this book:  :)
Keep us posted with progress please, I'm intending to write a bit on our site about our orchard, just need to get around to it.  ;)


  • The Accidental Smallholder
  • Administrator
  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Carnoustie, Angus
    • The Accidental Smallholder
    • Facebook
Re: Planting a new Orchard
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2012, 10:59:49 am »
Also meant to say we paid an experienced apple man to come and walk our ground, look over our chosen varieties and give advice. It was well worth it - we ended up changing site and he introduced us to local and heritage varieties we'd not have known about otherwise.

Fowgill Farm

  • Joined Feb 2009
Re: Planting a new Orchard
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2012, 11:09:35 am »
Make sure you have adequate rabbit & deer protection, we know to our cost having lost 16 trees from a 24 tree orchard, tres expensive Ouch  >:(  All trees now have Fort Knox style security round them. We have also had trees snapped by pigs rubbing their bums on them!
Mandy  :pig:

Scrumble The Goose

  • Joined Oct 2011
  • Berwyn Moutains
Re: Planting a new Orchard
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2012, 01:51:39 pm »
Hi all

Thanks for the replies.

I know about Welsh Mountain Cider, and have spoken to them about tree stock. My ***only*** concern with buying trees from them was lack of certification of disease resistance. For that reason I have also spoken to John Worle  amongst others( and although he can supply trees that are certificated as disease resistant, they are more expensive. Question is about risk & cost should an infected tree infect the rest of the Orchard. Jury is out on that one.

Thanks for the comment about the 10% bleach solution. My wife & I went on an Orchard management Course, as part of my research into this, and we picked up lots of useful information. We went to the Victorian Farm Museum in Shropshire. Very useful ! Highly Recommended!

Thanks for tip about the book. Its been suggested elsewhere by two seperate people, so it seems to be a must read. I've ordered that, just.

In our part of North East Wales, just on the marches border, there was once, a thriving fruit & vegtable area, up until around 1880. The local chappie who knows much about this, has visited our site & looked at the proposed orchard location. He suggested different varieties on the basis that they are tradional to the area. Whilst this is probably true, they aren't reasonable croppers, and aren't polination partners, thereby needing Crab apples (or similar) to polinate.

Rabbit protection, ah yes, our little furry friends. We planted an acre or so of mixed woodland last winter (700 + trees of Ash, Rowan, Beech, Silver Birch...Crab Apple, etc etc) and we have had a few skirmishes with the local Bugsy gang. To deter them we use an electric fence (it helps keep the Foxes & Rabbits out, and our flock of Chickens in the woodland)  together with tree guards on the stems. It didn't stop all commando style night raids by the rabbits, but did protect alot.

For the orchard, I am planning a similar defence in depth solution, with a tree guard around the stem, and a 1 metre (or so) high chicken wire cage around the stem, supported by three 1m (or so) wooden stakes. The chicken wire will be around 6 inches deep, being partially buried as I plant the tree. The only live stock in the orchard will the occasional sheep, or trespassing cow from the neighbours. Although once I have put up new fences, that shouldn't be much of a risk.

I'm still not decided about the root stock, so I may mix & match and see what happens. After all I could always plant more ...... 

And if you havn't spotted it, my main interest is Cider production, initially as a keen amateur, then ***maybe*** as a retirement project making a few bob, when I retire in um, 20 years.

We do have a developing Fruit Orchard, with Plums, Cherries, Medlars, Mulberr'ies as well as smaller fruit trees of Gooseberries and Blackcurrents etc. This side of things is carried out by the wife (head gardener aka Capability ) with me as labourer. The Orchard is one of my projects, although my wife supports the project, in the form of production quality control.

Cheers (hic!)

A. (aka Scrumble The Goose)


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • South Wales
Re: Planting a new Orchard
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2012, 10:10:46 pm »
Hiya  :wave:
May I recommend that you think of increasing your stock - to include bees  ;)   
If you don't fancy having your own, look to see if there are any local keepers who might want to have them in your orchard for the blossom season - they are amazing wee pollinators & will ensure that you should get big yields - weather permitting  :raining:   :bee:
Tunkey Herd - registered Kune Kune & rare breed poultry -

Scrumble The Goose

  • Joined Oct 2011
  • Berwyn Moutains
Re: Planting a new Orchard
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2012, 07:39:04 am »
Thanks for the reply about Bees. I do plan on having a hive or two around the place, as you quite correctly point out they are just the job for pollination. Due to my work pattern and my wife's fear of Bees, I will probably contact the local Bee keeping Club (?) and ask them about putting a hive or two on the site.
One of the guys I work with keeps Bees, but as my work place (and his home town) are 200  miles away from my home, its not practical for him. However I must say he has been a hive (sorry about the pun, couldn't resist) of information.
A (aka Scrumble The Goose)


  • Joined Sep 2012
Re: Planting a new Orchard
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2012, 04:38:26 pm »
I'm a complete novice when it comes to fruit trees but i was thinking of planting a small orchard on an acre of our land. I signed up to our local fruit tree society and went along to one of their lectures the other day. I said i was interested in growing cider and asked what type of apples i;d need. The bloke giving the lecture said it didn't matter; that you could get cider from any apple. Is this right?

Also, we live on pretty heavy clay in Wales (Nr Narbeth). Are there any varieties that do well on this type of land.

Last question! Would it be worth running pigs over the area before planting the trees? I hope this isn;t too off topic. Apologies Scrumble but it sounds like you might have some suggestions/tips. Many thanks


  • Joined May 2009
  • Northern Germany
Re: Planting a new Orchard
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2012, 10:29:50 pm »
This all sounds very exciting. 

We live on a peat moor and want to plant a small orchard, does anyone have any recommendations for fruit trees, apples, plums, etc., that would thrive on peat?  :tree:

Thanks in advance.



  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Kent
  • HesterF
Re: Planting a new Orchard
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2012, 09:50:06 pm »
Laurieston, not directly because we're on chalk/clay but I got our fruit trees from Keepers nursery in Maidstone and they were brilliant about recommending the best varieties so it's certainly worth calling them (they deliver nationwide). Most fruit trees prefer slightly acidic soil anyway so that's a good start (don't know how acidic peat bogs are though - do you know what the pH of your soil is?).

And you have to look at blueberries if you haven't already - I'm very jealous of anybody who can grow them! You could plant them between the trees - I believe it was traditional to have soft fruit bushes amongst the trees.


Scrumble The Goose

  • Joined Oct 2011
  • Berwyn Moutains
Re: Planting a new Orchard
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2012, 09:51:15 pm »
Hello all
Its been a while since I last visited this site, so I'll let you all know how things have gone with the Orchard.
I had a major change of plan after visiting a few suppliers and growers.  I ahve now planted some 70 trees , the majority (around 60) are in a one acre field that gets sunlight from dawn until dusk and is south facing, although exposed. The root stock is M111 or M25 (vigorous). I managed to plant a good spread of flowering groups and varierities so I should have a good chance of a reasonable harvest in years to come.
For those interested, the trees are in the main 2 - 3 year olds, with one or two maidens in as well. I've also planted a few Pear trees for good measure. I planted the rees as bare root stock, alongside half a dozen potted trees and next to a dozen or so establihed trees (a year back).
Here's a list of varieties (type in brackets)  I've planted this year, all M111 / M25 root stock that should be fine to grow & yield a good group at altitude & exposed conditions...but see later...:
5 x Paington Marigold (Medium BS)
5 x Ball’s Bittersweet (BS)
5 x Captain Broad (BS)
5 x Jenkins 3 (BS)
5 x Killboy  (BS)
2 x Improved Redstreak (BS)
5 x Jonny Andrews (Cider Sweet)
5 x Town Farm 59 (Sweet)
2 x Wyken Pippin (Dessert/Sweet)
2 x Viv’s Red (Dessert)
2x Bell Apple (Sweet/Mild Bittersweet)
1 x Wheeler’s Russet (Dessert)
5 x Ponsford (Cider Sharp/Cooker)
5 x Coleman’s Seedling  (Sharp)
3 x Chaxhill Red (Sharp)
3 x Frederick (Cider Sharp)
 My next job is to re-place the existing fence around the main orchard, plant a new hedge, and research changing our 6 sheep flock from Llyn's to Shropshire's...apparently Shropshires don't eat trees...useful.
So off to research the sheep..!
PM me if you want any help !
A (aka Scrumble the Goose)

Scrumble The Goose

  • Joined Oct 2011
  • Berwyn Moutains
Re: Planting a new Orchard
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2012, 10:05:52 pm »
While I think on...the Trre stock came from Bill & Chava at Welsh Mountain Cider....well worth a visit !


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