The New Fruit Grower

Dedicated to helping new and beginning fruit growers succeed!
A service from Moser Fruit Tree Sales, Inc.

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The Basics!

Home
Start with a Plan!
Marketing Issues
Business Basics
Conventional or Organic?
Site & Soil Basics
Orchard Planning
Training Systems
Variety Selection
Pollination Basics
Dwarf or Semi-Dwarf

 

Apple Rootstocks
Pear Rootstocks
Stone Fruit Rootstocks

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.

If 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.

There 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.

What 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 investigate are:
    
    Agriculture tourism and entertainment
                Roadside or Farm Market
                        Farmer's Markets direct to the consumer
                                U-Pick Orchards
                                        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 production?
                                Can I improve my site to make it better?

Business Planning
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?

Equipment Questions:
        Can I use any of my existing equipment?
                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? 

Government Regulations and Compliance Questions. 

Conventional 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?

Getting the fruit growing knowledge base:
Orchard Production and Training Systems:
       
Dwarf (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.
        Buying the trees.
                Other resources.

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!
        Rootstocks determine 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

 

Copyright 2012 Moser Fruit Tree Sales, Inc.
Last modified: December 15, 2012