Teddy12b
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Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Here's the situation. I want plant enought fruit trees to be a main supply of food for my family for the longest duration of the year as possible. I'm not trying to be a professional orchard, but I want to create a steady long term supply of food on my own land. In the spring of this year I went to Lowes as soon as they got their fruit trees in stock and I cherry picked (pun intended) the fruit trees that I wanted to have. I planted 5 apple trees, 2 pears, 2 peaches, 2 cherry trees. This year was outstanding as far as rain and weather goes and all but one of the trees survived and became very well established. As far as I'm concerned if the one tree that dies couldn't survive this year, then I'm better off without it.

Now here I am and I'm thinking of either expanding the current orchard, or creating a seperate one. We've had such great weather for getting trees this year that I want to plant more because you never know what the next year will bring, and I'd like to take advantage of getting the trees in the ground while everything is still dormant.

So here's some questions:
1.) Thanksgiving is next week, is it too late in the year to be planting trees? I'm assuming if the ground isn't frozen than I should be ok.

2.) My current orchard trees are planted in rows at 20' spacing. I'm not going to let these trees grow to their full height, and I'll probably cap them and keep them managable for picking. Should I even consider sticking a new fruit tree between the existing trees so that the spacing would be a tree every 10'? Part of me thinks the tighter spacing would be better for pollinating, but then another part of me thinks that it's just not going to be enough space for the trees in a few years and that I should just start another orchard nearby.

I'm leaning towards the seperate orchard in another location, but I'm certainly open to suggestions.

Another item of interest is that the trees I bought from Lowes were all semi dwarf and potted in 3.5 gallon containers. The trees I'd be buying are bare root, but will grow to be full size.

I'm turning into a fruit tree junkie and I don't know if I should start telling myself "No" sometimes. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

I went back through your old posts until I found one that says you are in NE Indiana. Please change your profile to reflect that, so we don't have to keep tracking it down.

I'm no expert, since I don't have room to grow fruit trees. But in my experience planting other kinds of trees, I think this is too late in our climate to plant trees. It isn't just is the ground unfrozen, so you can dig a hole. The tree needs some time before everything shuts down to put out some roots in its new location. If it were me, I would wait until spring at this point. But see what others with more fruit tree experience say.

Have you thought about growing some native fruits? Pawpaw and persimmon are native to our area and so are very hardy and carefree. Other native fruit trees include mulberries and serviceberries and some varieties of prunus - some plums and cherries. What about some nut trees? American hazelnut, pecan, black walnut, hickory are natives. If you want to grow food, nuts are high protein, nutritious food. Probably higher protein than any other plant food you can grow, except maybe soybeans.
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applestar
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Where to start...

Sorry if my reply is haphazard --

- need your location
- can't comment on current trees without knowing cultivar names and rootstocks they are on (if it was even mentioned on their tags)
- which leads me to say that I'm not a fan of lowes as reliable plant source for important projects
- If ground is not frozen, and depending on location, this could be a good time to plant bareroot dormant fruit trees. Sometimes planting in fall is not good for some fruit trees in some locations -- especially where it gets very very cold -- but the four kinds you've mentioned I think are all OK.
- very loosely speaking, apples and pears have similar needs and can be grouped together and cherries and peaches being stone fruits could be grouped together, bit I think the two groups have different needs and are not necessarily good grouped all together.

...noticed that you said new trees will be full sized bare roots trees. I would think full sized trees will overshadow the semi-dwarf trees if they are planted among them, though I must admit I don't have any experience with full sized fruit trees. Logically, I would guess you'd want to plant them to the north of the shorter trees.

Another thought is that "semi-dwarf" tree of one kind of fruit tree may grow to different size than another. All depends on the rootstock too as commented above.
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Only the very smallest of dwarfing rootstock could be wedged into ten foot spacing. Even with agressive pruning 20 foot spacing is about right.

For standard trees 20 feet is real tight.
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JONA878
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Hi Teddy.

Firstly...are the original trees on a semi-dwarf stock too?
If they are.... then twenty foot spacing is huge especially if you plan to control their height to around ten foot or so.
Even our old open centre trees are only at fifteen foot.
However, to get your new plants to 'take' well in between already growing trees they must have good light and not suffer from domination by the existing trees.
So, if the older trees are still fairly young and not too large then I would definitely interplant.
You don't say what style of trees you are growing. Open centre trees require about a fifteen foot spacing but centre leader trained trees can go down to ten foot or so quite easily. ( Intense orchards go to a metre or so apart on stock MM9)
Glad you are planting 'bare root' trees. Maidens are by far the cheapest and ideal trees to plant.
Plant them once the soil starts to warm up in the spring so that the roots get growing straight away from planting.
If you can leave them at the nursery until then ...great.
If they are delivered to you before then...and the weather is very cold , then heal them in a trench and protect the roots with a good layer of straw until early spring. Check them regularly though as mice can set up home in this straw and chew the roots.
Hope that helps a little.
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.

Teddy12b
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

rainbowgardener wrote:I went back through your old posts until I found one that says you are in NE Indiana. Please change your profile to reflect that, so we don't have to keep tracking it down.

I'm no expert, since I don't have room to grow fruit trees. But in my experience planting other kinds of trees, I think this is too late in our climate to plant trees. It isn't just is the ground unfrozen, so you can dig a hole. The tree needs some time before everything shuts down to put out some roots in its new location. If it were me, I would wait until spring at this point. But see what others with more fruit tree experience say.

Have you thought about growing some native fruits? Pawpaw and persimmon are native to our area and so are very hardy and carefree. Other native fruit trees include mulberries and serviceberries and some varieties of prunus - some plums and cherries. What about some nut trees? American hazelnut, pecan, black walnut, hickory are natives. If you want to grow food, nuts are high protein, nutritious food. Probably higher protein than any other plant food you can grow, except maybe soybeans.
Thanks for pointing out that I needed to include my location. I have that updated now. I'm glad to hear you mention the idea of planting some native fruit trees, especially the pawpaw. In the last month, I've planted 6 pawpaw trees that were 2' high, and 6 pawpaw trees that were 3' high along with planting 50 seeds. All these trees were planted under the cover of existing taller trees to give them partial shade along a river bank. I'm really trying to get the paw paw trees going this year. I'm going to focus on planting persimmons in the spring of '14. Earlier this spring I planted 2 Bing Cherry trees and 1 Black Tartarian Cherry, along with peaches, pears, & hazelnut. In the spring I'm going to plant some Russian almond trees so I can get some of those going as well.

Teddy12b
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

applestar wrote:Where to start...

Sorry if my reply is haphazard --

- need your location
- can't comment on current trees without knowing cultivar names and rootstocks they are on (if it was even mentioned on their tags)
- which leads me to say that I'm not a fan of lowes as reliable plant source for important projects
- If ground is not frozen, and depending on location, this could be a good time to plant bareroot dormant fruit trees. Sometimes planting in fall is not good for some fruit trees in some locations -- especially where it gets very very cold -- but the four kinds you've mentioned I think are all OK.
- very loosely speaking, apples and pears have similar needs and can be grouped together and cherries and peaches being stone fruits could be grouped together, bit I think the two groups have different needs and are not necessarily good grouped all together.

...noticed that you said new trees will be full sized bare roots trees. I would think full sized trees will overshadow the semi-dwarf trees if they are planted among them, though I must admit I don't have any experience with full sized fruit trees. Logically, I would guess you'd want to plant them to the north of the shorter trees.

Another thought is that "semi-dwarf" tree of one kind of fruit tree may grow to different size than another. All depends on the rootstock too as commented above.
I don't think the cultivator names or root stocks were labeled on the trees I bought from Lowes. I'm still a rookie at all of this and I didn't know to look for that information either so it could have been provided and I not noticed it.

Teddy12b
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

tomc wrote:Only the very smallest of dwarfing rootstock could be wedged into ten foot spacing. Even with agressive pruning 20 foot spacing is about right.

For standard trees 20 feet is real tight.
I was afraid that 10' spacing was just going to be too tight. I appreciate you confirming that.

Teddy12b
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

JONA878 wrote:Hi Teddy.

Firstly...are the original trees on a semi-dwarf stock too?
If they are.... then twenty foot spacing is huge especially if you plan to control their height to around ten foot or so.
Even our old open centre trees are only at fifteen foot.
However, to get your new plants to 'take' well in between already growing trees they must have good light and not suffer from domination by the existing trees.
So, if the older trees are still fairly young and not too large then I would definitely interplant.
You don't say what style of trees you are growing. Open centre trees require about a fifteen foot spacing but centre leader trained trees can go down to ten foot or so quite easily. ( Intense orchards go to a metre or so apart on stock MM9)
Glad you are planting 'bare root' trees. Maidens are by far the cheapest and ideal trees to plant.
Plant them once the soil starts to warm up in the spring so that the roots get growing straight away from planting.
If you can leave them at the nursery until then ...great.
If they are delivered to you before then...and the weather is very cold , then heal them in a trench and protect the roots with a good layer of straw until early spring. Check them regularly though as mice can set up home in this straw and chew the roots.
Hope that helps a little.
The original semi dwarf trees are on 20' spacing, but the rows are offset. For example I'll try to make a picture using text to show what I'm saying.

I would call the pattern below a 20' grid type of spacing. This is not exactly what I did
*__*__*__*__*
*__*__*__*__*
*__*__*__*__*
*__*__*__*__*
*__*__*__*__*
*__*__*__*__*

I did 20' spacing, and then offset the next row 10' so it'd look like this
*___*___*___*___*
__*___*___*___*___*
*___*___*___*___*
__*___*___*___*___*
*___*___*___*___*
__*___*___*___*___*

Hopefullly that little example helps clear up what I did. The spacing of the trees was decided because I planted a lot of other trees in the same area and wanted them in perfect little orderly rows. The 20' spacing seemed to be a very good general rule for oaks, fruit trees, red maples and whatever else so that's how it came to be.

I'm planning on just letting the trees grow and fill in naturally. I'll trim the branches so that they are all growing outwards, and I'll trim the tip of the tree if it starts to get away from me, but generally my plan is to let the tree grow as nature allows it.

The trees were all ordered online and should arrive next week. I'm hoping that I'll receive them no later than Wednesday and that I'll be able to get them in the ground shortly after. I'll keep them in a 5 gallon bucket of water and straw in the garage until I can plant them, but I plan on getting them in the ground within a day or two at the most of receiving them. I've got some straw I can cover them with as a mulch to help them get through winter.

I always thought that you would only heel in a tree if the ground was frozen and you couldn't dig any further. I never really understood why heeling a tree in the dirt was better than just planting the thing to begin with. I'm certainly open to recommendations and I'd love to understand more about why people heel in a tree.

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applestar
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Be sure to put tree/trunk guards on them to protect from gnawing mice and rabbits, and you may need to provide more elaborate protectection against deer, etc. as well.
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Teddy12b
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

I've been using drain tile cut to length of the lowest branch of the tree to protect the trees. As far as the deer go, well so far this hunting season I've struck out. I saw six deer yesterday while in my car, but nothing while I was wearing my little orange hat and carrying a rifle. I've got the cure for deer, I just struggle to get them on board with my plan to harvest organic meat.

JONA878
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Teddy12b wrote:
JONA878 wrote:Hi Teddy.

Firstly...are the original trees on a semi-dwarf stock too?
If they are.... then twenty foot spacing is huge especially if you plan to control their height to around ten foot or so.
Even our old open centre trees are only at fifteen foot.
However, to get your new plants to 'take' well in between already growing trees they must have good light and not suffer from domination by the existing trees.
So, if the older trees are still fairly young and not too large then I would definitely interplant.
You don't say what style of trees you are growing. Open centre trees require about a fifteen foot spacing but centre leader trained trees can go down to ten foot or so quite easily. ( Intense orchards go to a metre or so apart on stock MM9)
Glad you are planting 'bare root' trees. Maidens are by far the cheapest and ideal trees to plant.
Plant them once the soil starts to warm up in the spring so that the roots get growing straight away from planting.
If you can leave them at the nursery until then ...great.
If they are delivered to you before then...and the weather is very cold , then heal them in a trench and protect the roots with a good layer of straw until early spring. Check them regularly though as mice can set up home in this straw and chew the roots.
Hope that helps a little.
The original semi dwarf trees are on 20' spacing, but the rows are offset. For example I'll try to make a picture using text to show what I'm saying.

I would call the pattern below a 20' grid type of spacing. This is not exactly what I did
*__*__*__*__*
*__*__*__*__*
*__*__*__*__*
*__*__*__*__*
*__*__*__*__*
*__*__*__*__*

I did 20' spacing, and then offset the next row 10' so it'd look like this
*___*___*___*___*
__*___*___*___*___*
*___*___*___*___*
__*___*___*___*___*
*___*___*___*___*
__*___*___*___*___*

Hopefullly that little example helps clear up what I did. The spacing of the trees was decided because I planted a lot of other trees in the same area and wanted them in perfect little orderly rows. The 20' spacing seemed to be a very good general rule for oaks, fruit trees, red maples and whatever else so that's how it came to be.

I'm planning on just letting the trees grow and fill in naturally. I'll trim the branches so that they are all growing outwards, and I'll trim the tip of the tree if it starts to get away from me, but generally my plan is to let the tree grow as nature allows it.

The trees were all ordered online and should arrive next week. I'm hoping that I'll receive them no later than Wednesday and that I'll be able to get them in the ground shortly after. I'll keep them in a 5 gallon bucket of water and straw in the garage until I can plant them, but I plan on getting them in the ground within a day or two at the most of receiving them. I've got some straw I can cover them with as a mulch to help them get through winter.

I always thought that you would only heel in a tree if the ground was frozen and you couldn't dig any further. I never really understood why heeling a tree in the dirt was better than just planting the thing to begin with. I'm certainly open to recommendations and I'd love to understand more about why people heel in a tree.
The only reason we heal trees in Teddy is if the ground is not in a good state to plant. It may be too hard from frost, too wet and waterlogged through rain, or there just hasn't been time to get it prepared properly.
If the ground is good...plant straight away.
The twenty foot spacing you have got will allow your trees a huge amount of room. Offsetting the rows is a good practice as that too makes most use of the space provided.
If your trees are on a very dwarfing stock then they will have a job to fill the space you have allowed. So you will find you have very little pruning to do for a long time to come...other than keeping the top of the tree lighter than the bottom in strength. The reason you will have to do this is so that the main cropping wood on your trees is kept at a picking height that stays within a sensible reach.
If however they are on a stronger root stock then that spacing will fill in around year 8 - 10 and you will then have to watch your control over them as they will develop a pretty strong growth pattern.
Check the invoice or labels on your trees when they arrive and see what roots stock number they are on. It should be clearly marked.
Good luck either way.
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ReptileAddiction
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

First off you can plant the trees as close as a few feet. This seems drastic but if you summer prune you can DEFINITELY do it. 20 feet is orchard spacing and the only reason they do that is to get large equipment and large crews of people in. Dave Wilson Nursery which produces most of the fruit trees for the western part of the U.S. I highly recommend only keeping the tree at most 10 feet so you can reach everything pretty much from the ground. It works amazingly well. When you keep trees small like this you obviously do not get as much fruit but do you really want over 1000 peaches for a week that will be bad a week later and every single one needs picked? I am sure you would much rather have 50 peaches a week for most of the summer which you can easily get if you intensively plant the trees and check maturation dates. I highly recommend reading all around Dave Wilson's site because they are the expert in this type of orchard maintenance. I will post links to their website, their youtube, and a very helpful maturation chart. You mentioned that you want to achieve having fruit most of the year which buying trees from lowes is not the way to do it. That way you can not make sure that you know when fruit will ripen etc. I know people that have fairly small orchards but literally have fruit year round. If you want that intensive planting is by far the best way to do that.

Website: https://www.davewilson.com/

Harvest Chart: https://www.davewilson.com/home-gardens/ ... vest-chart

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClShqpLDCJ-Q97zk3tsYZAw

Teddy12b
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

I've watched a bunch of Dave Wilson you tube videos and he definitely knows what he's talking about. He's one of my favorite channels.

A new development in the trees. According to a tracking number, the trees will be delivered today. Right now it's 30 degrees out and yesterday the ground was frozen. I was really hoping to have one last warm spell where I could get the trees in the dirt before everything freezes. Unfortunately I missed that mark. I'm not going to be able to get the tree in the dirt right away and the forecast shows that the weather won't get close to 40 degrees until Thursday. I'm going to try my best to get these trees planted asap, but I think they are going to be spending a couple days in the garage in 5 gallon buckets soaking in water and straw. I really wish I would have gotten these in the ground last week, but that's the way the ball bounces some times.

It's kinda funny because yesterday when I was out walking on the hard frozen ground I was thinking to myself that I could completely understand why someone would heel in a tree if they found themselves in this situation.

As it stands now, I'll get the trees in the ground asap and give them a healthy dose of straw on top for some mulching.

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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

they are going to be spending a couple days in the garage in 5 gallon buckets soaking in water and straw
You don't want to do that. That would asphyxiate the roots. Keep them in the package but open once and make sure that the roots are completely surrounded by wood shavings or shredded paper or whatever they used and that the material is damp but not soggy. Then wrap them back up in the plastic. Lay them on their sides or at 45° heel in angle and make sure the garage doesn't freeze (no lower than upper 20°s. If likely, then you should insulate them from the cold -- put them on flattened cardboard and cover the root zone with something -- blanket, a throw rug.

I can't remember it's better to keep them completely in the dark or in bright but not direct sunlight. I'm thinking bright light. Only soak the roots for a couple of hours before planting -- I believe no more than 4 hrs. 6 hrs at absolute most. I add a shovelful of finished compost to the soaking water and use de-chlorinated or rainwater.
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

applestar wrote:
they are going to be spending a couple days in the garage in 5 gallon buckets soaking in water and straw
You don't want to do that. That would asphyxiate the roots. Keep them in the package but open once and make sure that the roots are completely surrounded by wood shavings or shredded paper or whatever they used and that the material is damp but not soggy. Then wrap them back up in the plastic. Lay them on their sides or at 45° heel in angle and make sure the garage doesn't freeze (no lower than upper 20°s. If likely, then you should insulate them from the cold -- put them on flattened cardboard and cover the root zone with something -- blanket, a throw rug.

I can't remember it's better to keep them completely in the dark or in bright but not direct sunlight. I'm thinking bright light. Only soak the roots for a couple of hours before planting -- I believe no more than 4 hrs. 6 hrs at absolute most. I add a shovelful of finished compost to the soaking water and use de-chlorinated or rainwater.
So agree with Star here. Whatever you do ..do not put the roots in water to store them. The roots need to breath just as the rest of the tree. Putting them in water is the same as waterlogging them and can easily kill the tree if left for any length of time.
I also think RA is right about the planting distance. I too think that 20 feet is just too big a distance...even for strong standard trees 15 ft is the norm and for dwarf stocks 10ft down to 5-6 ft is quite acceptable.
As regards the problem of having fruit throughout the year...this is quite possible even with apples if you have late varieties that are good 'keepers' and you pick those varieties before the fruit is fully ripe. A 'long store' apple will keep for 5 - 6 months if picked when only 10% of the starch has turned to sugar and then kept in the cool and in the dark.
Vars like Golden Delicious and the cooker Bramley can be stored for up to 12 months ..but they do need controlled atmosphere stores to do so.
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Teddy12b
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

I thought it was good to have the roots setting in some water to keep them from drying out. I'm glad I mentioned it because it sounds like I'd have drowned them with my original plan. I'm just hoping I can get these trees in the dirt sooner rather than later.

I play youtube videos in the background instead of listening to a radio and after listening to a couple more of Dave Wilsons videos I'm thinking pretty hard about that 10' spacing again and keeping the trees shorter.

When I planted these trees from Lowes, they looked like they'd been trimmed up, but in hind sight it was probably just enough to get them loaded on a truck. Next spring I'll prune them the way they should be so that they're manageable and productive. I'm regretting that I didn't prune them with I initially planted them because while they took root, I probably missed out on a years worth of shaping the trees to be more productive in the long term. Live and learn I guess.

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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

I really think planting them at 5 foot is the key. If you plan to keep the trees short 20 feet is way to big. Most commercial orchards leave less space between the trees. You can even plant some in the same hole. If I were you I would prune the older trees in the spring before the leaf out. It is in my opinion to late to prune them way back now. What I would do is prune out any large central leaders and start getting the vase shape going for things like peaches. The other types of trees that need a different form obviously train them to that form.

Another way you could pack a lot of trees in a small space is growing them as an espalier. If you seriously want year round you need to keep your trees small. If you don't you will spend hours every week harvesting a lot of fruit that you will not even be able to use.

Teddy12b
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

The one thing I thought was missing from the Dave Wilson videos was how much fruit he could expect from his shorter apple trees. He's got some great videos leading up to the mature fruit tree, but I'd like to know how many bushel of apples he's expecting to get from such a shorter tree over the course of a year.

The way I understand it, the shorter tree is for the convenience of picking the fruit. Ultimately the tree isn't going to be as large as it could be, but it'll develop it's fruit much soon this way. If I understand it correctly, if you took a tree that was going to grow to full maturity and kept it trimmed up, it's not like the trimming is going to prolong it's producing season, if anything it's going to produce the same fruit during its normal cycle, but with less of it. Does that seem right?

My biggest concern is that I don't want to take a tree that could be producing 8 bushel a season and keep it trimmed up and only get 1 bushel or less. I still want to make sure that I'm getting plenty of fruit for a family of 5. I'm planting these now, so that as my munchkins grow up the trees will be ready to support their growing appetites over the years. All three are under 5 yr old right now so I've got a good start, I just don't want to screw it up.

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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Here is a rough guide to the cropping levels of the most common roots stocks.
It assumes that the trees are fully grown and the suggested height is there to give a further guide.
I say rough guide as different vars will crop at different levels by nature and by variations in soil types


M27. .. height 4-5ft.............10-15 lbs
M9...... height 8-10ft............30-50lbs
M26... .height.8-12ft............30-50lbs
MM106... height 8-15ft............50-100lbs
MM111 & M2 height 15-20ft...... 100-400lbs
M25.... height 20+ft ........ 200-400+ lbs

Remember though that the closer planting distance on the more dwarfing stocks allow much greater yields per acre because of greater tree density....also the dwarfing stocks in general come into full cropping sooner.
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Teddy12b
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Thanks for the information!

I don't know that I'd keep the trees as trimmed down as Dave Wilson was doing, but I'm not going to go much higher either. I think I'm going the find the balance of keeping the trees where I can hand pick the fruit or knock it off a limb with a reasonably short stick. I'll do the 10' spacing as I've got a variety of trees and this may help them pollinate. It'll be an interesting experiment.

DoubleDogFarm
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

No sticks. You know what they say about one bad apple. :wink:
Remember though that the closer planting distance on the more dwarfing stocks allow much greater yields per acre because of greater tree density....also the dwarfing stocks in general come into full cropping sooner.
I'm glade you covered this Jona878. I'm pretty sure all replacement orchards in Washington are not Standard trees.

"full cropping sooner" , but a shorter life also.

Eric

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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

"full cropping sooner" , but a shorter life also.

Eric[/quote]


Yes Eric ...very true.
Our 80 year old Blenhiems on traditional stocks are still cropping steady with fairly good quality fruit.
Our intensive orchards are replaced every twenty years or so because of the fall off in fruit quality and size.
Though perhaps in a garden they would have double that life.
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.

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ReptileAddiction
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

With short trees you can easily get enough fruit for a family of 5. Off a small tree you can get a couple hundred fruit. Remember that if you can not reach the top branches from the ground that means you will have to get a step stool/ladder to spray the trees and prune them. I plan on keeping my newest peach to about 8 foot so yes I will have to get a step stool. If you need anything feel free to P.M. me!

Teddy12b
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Well, I did it. The ground thawed enough for me to get the apple trees in the ground and I jumped on the opportunity. I filled in the spaces in the rows of trees, but not the space between the rows. So instead of this:

_*_*_*_*_*

*_*_*_*_*_

_*_*_*_*_*

*_*_*_*_*_


It's setup like this

*****

*****

*****

*_*_*_*_*

I'm not really sure if that makes sense, but I added some pictures to help get the point across.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
This last picture is of an Cherry tree that I desperately need to prune.

You'll notice that some of these trees have the drain tile on their base to protect them this winter for rabbits. Those are the trees that have been in the ground since March and are strong enough to support themselves. These trees I just planted I staked them in the ground the same way I always stake trees to help give them the support they'll need to get through winter. Since the threat of rabbits on the trees goes away in the spring, I'll probably just leave the new trees staked into the ground until mid summer. You might also notice the lousy job I did tossing straw around the base of the trees. The clock was ticking and I was already using more time than I had proposed to my wife so I was in a rush to just get something around the base the trees. I'll clean it up later.

Here's my next question....... Is it safe to prune apple trees now? What's the general thoughts on pruning apple trees right now. Of course with the internet being what it is I already did some searching and found advice both ways. My 10 day forecast looks like some rain soon in the low 40's and towards the end of the 10 days it looks like highs in the low 20's. I'm thinking pretty hard about at least pruning the trees I put in last March, but also pruning maybe half of the new trees I just put in. Any thoughts or suggestions on that?

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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Apples and pears are usually pruned anytime in the winter months. The only exception is if you expect very cold.....-20c....sort of temperatures when there could be some frost kill which would cause die-back.
Cherry and plum only prune when there is a very good sap run. That's in the early spring once the trees have broken bud well ...or late summer before the leaves start to change colour.
Why do you want to prune that cherry though?.
It looks like a very good young tree to me. All I would do is get those stronger branches at the base area tied down to the horizontal with weights...that will slow their growth down and help form fruit bud.
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.

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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Since these are very young trees with limited branches, I think you'd wand to minimize loss and be very sure of what to save and be sure that they grow from where you want them to grow.

What I have done in the past in late fall (for overgrown apples and pears -- should not prune stone fruits in wintry weather per Jona) is to pre-prune to 4-6 inches or several buds ABOVE where it would be ideal to cut, then prune above the ideal bud in late winter/early spring when spring thaw starts (around or near end of sugar maple tapping time).
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Teddy12b
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

The cherry trees I've got have a lot of branches that head towards the center of the tree and it looks like it'll go into a tangled mess. Out of the three cherry trees I planted last year that's the only one that actually produced a few cherry's. It only made tree cherry's and none of them survived to full maturity, but it was still fun to watch. It made me smile to actually see some fruit show up on plants I put in the ground that same year.

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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

applestar wrote:Since these are very young trees with limited branches, I think you'd wand to minimize loss and be very sure of what to save and be sure that they grow from where you want them to grow.

What I have done in the past in late fall (for overgrown apples and pears -- should not prune stone fruits in wintry weather per Jona) is to pre-prune to 4-6 inches or several buds ABOVE where it would be ideal to cut, then prune above the ideal bud in late winter/early spring when spring thaw starts (around or near end of sugar maple tapping time).
When you're talking about early spring, are you saying somewhere around the March area? Basically about the time the fruit trees start to show back up in the big box stores is about the time to trim up the trees you've already got in the ground?

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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Here's some interesting reading

https://extension.psu.edu/plants/tree-fr ... ruit-trees
Based on everything that has been published we can conclude that woody plants do not attain maximum cold hardiness when they are pruned in the fall. Trees are affected more by heavy pruning than light pruning. There is still much that we don't know about the practical implications of how pruning affects cold hardiness. We especially don't know how rapidly pruning causes de-acclimation, or if de-acclimation is similar in the early-, mid-, and late-winter, and we don't know how long the trees remain de-acclimated. We also don't know if the de-acclimation following pruning is affected by mid-winter warm spells, which we seem to be experiencing more frequently. This is an area of research that I am interested in pursuing during the final stage of my career, and I hope to have answers to some of these questions before I retire.

Teddy12b
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

DoubleDogFarm wrote:Here's some interesting reading

https://extension.psu.edu/plants/tree-fr ... ruit-trees
Based on everything that has been published we can conclude that woody plants do not attain maximum cold hardiness when they are pruned in the fall. Trees are affected more by heavy pruning than light pruning. There is still much that we don't know about the practical implications of how pruning affects cold hardiness. We especially don't know how rapidly pruning causes de-acclimation, or if de-acclimation is similar in the early-, mid-, and late-winter, and we don't know how long the trees remain de-acclimated. We also don't know if the de-acclimation following pruning is affected by mid-winter warm spells, which we seem to be experiencing more frequently. This is an area of research that I am interested in pursuing during the final stage of my career, and I hope to have answers to some of these questions before I retire.
So basically, pruning right now is a bad idea. If pruning in the fall is something that's debatable, I may as well wait until spring. At this point March/April is only a few months away and will be here before we know it.

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applestar
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Teddy12b wrote:
applestar wrote:Since these are very young trees with limited branches, I think you'd wand to minimize loss and be very sure of what to save and be sure that they grow from where you want them to grow.

What I have done in the past in late fall (for overgrown apples and pears -- should not prune stone fruits in wintry weather per Jona) is to pre-prune to 4-6 inches or several buds ABOVE where it would be ideal to cut, then prune above the ideal bud in late winter/early spring when spring thaw starts (around or near end of sugar maple tapping time).
When you're talking about early spring, are you saying somewhere around the March area? Basically about the time the fruit trees start to show back up in the big box stores is about the time to trim up the trees you've already got in the ground?
"Basically about the time the fruit trees start to show back up in the big box stores" -- I have very little confidence in the reliability of big box stores stocking schedule as guide for gardening practices.

Rely more on local orchards -- if you have any in your area, pay attention to when they start pruning. I have noted over the years that the when a heritage museum farm about an hour north of me announces maple tree tapping on their program calendar, I can keep an eye on a local apple orchard and they will prune a week or two thereafter while the farm will continue to tap for another couple of weeks and start announcing maple sugaring in the program. Generally, I seem to have a window of about two more weeks to plan on pruning my trees before my own trees will start to break bud. At that point, it's not too late -- it's OK to prune and it's sometimes to an advantage because you can pick the best growth pattern, but the usual recommendation is to prune before bud break.

FOR ME, the timing on the calendar for all this is around last week of February to 2nd week of March. But our forum members live in different areas, so my advice based on calendar month and days is only applicable for members who live near me or have very closely matched growing seasons.

I think there are other phenological signs -- for instance, the peach will break bud way before apples do, so when the peach is starting to show signs of breaking bud and blooming, I think apples and pears could still be pruned. Bud this is a little bit later than the timing based on the maple tapping/sugaring -- maybe mid to late March?
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Applestar, that seems like a great method. I wish I could comment but I basically can prune any time of the year in my area. I did 95% of my pruning in June. The only thing I will do in the winter is tip some of the branches that did not swell as much as I would have hoped.

If it were me I would prune after you know that there will be no danger of frost damage. If you end up pruning after it is done blooming it is not a bad thing. I know gardeners that do all of their pruning after they bloom and use that time to thin the fruit.

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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Thanks ReptileAddiction. It's important to note these regional differences. As JONA said, where it does not freeze severely, you can prune any time in the winter.

There is difference in winter pruning and summer pruning too. Mainly -- and I hope I have this right....

-- winter pruning encourages vigorous growth of the bud and shoot at point if pruning -- and can cause "proto" bud (there's a correct term for thus that I can't remember -- a bud that would not have grown otherwise) to become active and grow -- because the energy stored in the roots for the winter dormancy can be distributed to what is now less volume of canopy. The vigorous bud stimulation can result in numerous water sprouts or vigorous branch growth, as well as stimulate productive fruit development.

-- summer pruning will reduce the canopy without the retuning energy re-distribution and essentially will reduce the energy production and amount of what would have become stored energy by the pruned foliage, so it is a good way to maintain size or reduce size of the tree without the rebound effect. It's a good idea to prune water sprouts at this time. It's also a way to open up the canopy for air circulation and allow more sunlight to reach the interior of the canopy and fruits.

*But* in my area, pruning fire blight susceptible trees like apples and pears is a bad idea during basically petal fall to late summer -- about late May/early June through July/early-August, because that's when it gets very humid and muggy. (Yeah, it's a Catch-22 situation) I have a small window between late August to mid September to try to "summer prune".
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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Where as in my neck of the woods I do not have to worry about that as much because it never gets muggy. Yes sumer pruning does keep the trees smaller but if I am planning on keeping the tree to only like 10 feet anyway I might as well.

What I have found summer pruning helps with is getting the branches to thicken up so they can support a greater fruit load, especially on first year trees, because it redirects the energy. I especially think this is helpful on thinks like peaches and nectarines that will over-produce so much that it literally rips the tree up.

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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

I'm trying to think of how old my trees are. The first batch I bought from Lowes and they were all very thick trunks about 6' tall or more when I planted them in the ground. They either had to be super star second year trees or more likely normal 3 year old trees. The trees I just planted were almost as tall, but not nearly as thick of trunks so I'd guess they're 2 year old trees. I wish I had a better handle on how old the trees are, but I'm not that worried about it because it's more for my curiosity. This spring will be all of their first pruning so I will just use that as a starting point for all of them.

I keep telling my wife that the only bad part of all of this is that I'm getting impatient to see how next years growth goes. I'm looking forward to spring so much just because of all of these trees.

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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

One more addition....as regards 'summer pruning'.

I think that the confusion must be cleared up here as to what is regarded as this.
If you are just getting the tree into shape ..as would happen with winter pruning ...then to prune the tree early on in the spring once the sap is running does not affect the tree at all. In fact it can be beneficial in a way as you can then see exactly how much fruit bud the tree has so you can decide how hard you are able to prune.
If however you are trying to summer prune to induce good light on growing fruit and better fruit bud initiation for the following year ...as you would do on espalier and cordon trees.....then it is essential that the pruning is not done until the tree has shut down its growth at the tips of the shoots. Over here that is around the end of July to mid-August.
If summer pruning is carried out before this state then the fruit buds that are ready for the next season can...and usually do.. break into growth. Then you have lost that next years fruit before you even start.
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.

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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

So the other night I was out back with a neighbor of mine who also has some fruit trees and we were talking about how & when we intended to prune our trees. I think he's going to go with more of a central leader system and I'm leaning towards the open vase. We're both kind of curious what we should anticipate once the trees are established and the structures are sound. Basically, once these trees really get going is there going to be much difference in the total amount of fruit produced? It's hard to get a handle on whether or not one style is going to out produce another in terms of bushels per tree. I'm not really sure when we can expect to start having some steady production going on. From everything I've read it'll be a couple years before either of us get our trees to start feeding the families, but at some point we're trying to get an understanding on if he's got fewer trees but prunes them central leader, and I've got more trees but an going to prune them with an open vase center will we end up with about the some amount of produce. Both orchards were planted at about the same time and are nearly identical size wise.

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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

I think that if the trees are around identical in size then the cropping should be around the same too Teddy.
Depending, of course, on the amount of cropping wood allowed to remain after pruning.
The big cropping difference on the trees comes when you compare tree density.
Open centre ( vase, bowl etc). need a lot of room to give sufficient wood for cropping, so cannot be planted to closely.
Centre leader or spindle trees can be planted incredibly tightly at up to 1000 + per acre. So the cropping per given area can be substantially higher.
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.

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Re: Thinking about adding fruit tree orchard in late fall

Last night I went out for a walk to where the orchard was planted. It's one of the few times I've been able to go for a walk with little snow on the ground and had easy access. Many of fruit trees are showing a lot of buds, but many of those little fruit bearing branches are above where I intend to start chopping.

I think it's going to be a good year for growing this year.

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