Start with a plan!
Many new enterprises start with an idea that
has come about from necessity, invention, or just dreaming. Commercial
fruit growing can be a very rewarding endeavor, but it should be developed with a real plan, because of
its capital cost requirements, as well as the new
knowledge that one needs to learn. It shouldn't be done on a lark.
you currently are a farmer, then you already have a lot of the basic knowledge
of the soil and what you can and can't do with it. Fruit growing can be a
profitable addition to your enterprise as long as it fulfills a real need in your
operation. Some needs may be:
More or increased revenues and profits in
order to stay in business.
Expansion of existing products to sell in
your existing market niche.
Land not suitable for your existing crop
base that you would like to use more productively.
You have too much time on your hands, or
you want to use your labor force more efficiently.
Little growth potential in your existing
operation if continuing with the same crops.
Any number of reasons that you can
identify, which make you want to expand your operation.
are the many important things to take into consideration when looking at
starting up an orchard. Most of these points will have additional web pages on the
site to help fill in the details. Our goal is not to make the decisions
for you, or lead you in a particular direction, but to identify "thinking points" for you
to examine and develop into a long term plan to make your new fruit growing
operation successful and profitable over the long run. A Long Term Plan
should be developed, since it can take any where from about 3 to 5 growing
seasons for production to start in an orchard, and a few more year for significant
long-term production to manifest itself. It just makes sense to have a
long term plan.
Following are some of the questions
that you should ask yourself and answer as best you can, BEFORE you plant a
tree. We've tried to list them in order of importance as we see
them. If there is a web page devoted to the article, then look for the underlining
or hyperlink to it for more detail.
is my market?
This is the most important question
you need to answer. We all know that if you don't have a market for your
production, then you have to EAT it! Some of the markets that you need to
tourism and entertainment
Roadside or Farm Market
Farmer's Markets direct to the consumer
Wholesale Produce Markets or Auctions
Organic Production and Markets
Who is my competition?
Other unique market niches.
Do I have
a fruit site?
Do I know what kind of
soil I have, and can I grow fruit on it?
Elevation is important for consistent production. Will I frost or freeze
out on a regular basis?
Hardiness Zone--- What is mine, and what limitations might it impose of fruit
Can I improve my site to make it better?
Dollars and Cents Questions:
Do I have the necessary
financial and capital resource for the long term?
Am I willing to make the long term dollar investment? (is my spouse?)
Can I realize a pay-out or return on my investment?
Do I have good communication with my banker?
Can I use any of my existing
What other essential equipment do I need and what is the cost or availability?
How will my current existing equipment help determine my orchard design?
Regulations and Compliance Questions.
or Organic Production?
Is there a viable market for organic
in my region?
Am I in a region where organic production is practical or is it just possible?
What are the pitfalls and benefits of organic versus conventional production?
the fruit growing knowledge base:
Orchard Production and Training Systems:
(pedestrian) or Semi-Dwarf trees?
Determine proper tree density and spacing.
Decide whether to trellis, support single trees, or grow self-supporting trees.
Management time requirements for my system.
Capital and investment requirements for my system.
Discovering the fruit growing infrastructure.
Variety selection--- should be
based on your market!
New varieties--- to do or not to do?
Standard varieties--- some are always a sure bet.
Heirloom or antique varieties--- can they be a niche for me?
Hard to find and custom varieties--- where and how to get them.
Rootstocks--- Maybe a more
important factor in success than varieties sometimes!
the final system selection.
Dwarf or Semi-dwarf?
Are they the proper match to my site and soil?
Are they the proper match for my market niche?
Pollination--- Not as
difficult a question as most make it out to be!
Where to get the bees?
Dependence on local pollinators may be troublesome.
Should I get in the bee-keeping business? Honey is a marketable product.
The basics about pollinator varieties is
really quite easy, and shouldn't be sweated over as much as it is.
Download me as a Word
Document: Start with a Plan