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How to Start a new apple orchard

Is it true that an apple a day may help keep the doctor away? Yes, it certainly is true. There are many health benefits from eating apples.

Apples are a good source of fiber. Pectin a source of soluble fiber helps to prevent cholesterol build up in blood vessel walls. The insoluble fiber is like a cleanser for your intestinal tract holding water and moving food through the digestive system. Insoluble fiber can be found in the skin so don’t cut it off.

Apples have always had an anecdotal healthy reputation and that reputation has and continues to be confirmed by past and ongoing medical research. The bottom line is that eating apples are good for you and the health benefits of apples are numerous and include anything from lowering bad cholesterol to reducing the risk of contracting cancer.

An orchard is a lovely way to grow this tasty and healthy fruit but it will take planning and time before you’re harvesting.

 

Reasons to Eat Apples

  • Apples are a perfect portable snack food
  • Apples are fat and cholesterol free
  • Apples are sodium free
  • Apples contain antioxidants which may help fight off diseases
  • Apples are a great source of dietary fiber
  • Apples can strengthen lung function
  • Apples contain many vitamins and minerals
  • Apples come in hundreds of varieties
  • Apples are low in calories
  • Apples have no artificial colors or flavors

 

Picking the site

Apple orchards, once successfully established, can last for decades and you really do not want to be faced with the prospect of starting again if your selection of the orchard site does not work out for one reason or another.

First of all, consider where an apple orchard might work in terms of the topography of your land. Apple trees cannot tolerate standing in water, therefore discount any low lying areas that have or may be subject to flooding or likely to retain water from run off. Even if you have a low lying area that does not flood or hold water it may well be a frost pocket where cold air settles.

These areas can kill the apple blossom and the developing fruit. Once you have selected an area that might be suitable, check out the soil. Ideally, the soil should be rich, loamy, and well drained; apple trees will also grow in sandy or clay soil as a second best. Having identified your best likely spot, you should be looking to test your soil’s PH. Aim for a soil pH between 6.0 and 6.5 as an ideal but a PH between 5.5 and 8.0 is tolerable too.

Related Content: Why Hass Avocado is the new Cash Crop

 

Selecting trees

Apple trees come in numerous varieties and growth patterns. Some varieties will be more suitable to your area than others. However, bear in mind that for pollination to work you will require at least two varieties of apple tree in your orchard. In order to maximize fruiting, you should also be looking for apple trees that blossom around the same time, that could be early, mid-season, or late season, your local nursery should be able to advise you of the right varieties that will work for you, especially as some varieties are simply not compatible with each other as their blossom is sterile.

Now it is up to you to select the best trees that both suit your needs and your site. Some apple trees, called standards, can grow 25 feet high or more and can live more than fifty years. However, you will be waiting five or six years for apples from these trees and the height of the tree may be a deterrent for you as the trees will need pruning at some time.

Smaller varieties such as semi-dwarfs and dwarfs however, could be producing within two to three years but are not as strong or as long lived. In terms of production, standard trees should be producing around eight bushels of apples each, semi-dwarf’s five bushels each, and dwarf’s one to two bushels each. Again, talk to your local nursery man and establish what will best work for you.

 

Planting

Ideally, you will want to buy apple trees that are around 3 months old and stand about one feet high. If you think the roots are dry when you get them home soak the root ball in water for 24 hours. When you are ready to plant you will need to dig a hole that is 2 feet by 2 feet and about two feet deeper, allowing the root system to spread out when you back fill part of the hole with loose soil.

Gently spread the tree’s roots out when you plant the tree, firm the soil around the roots, and backfill so that the place where the tree’s roots meet the trunk is up to two inches above the ground. Pack the soil down and water the tree well; no fertilizer is required at the planting stage.

After planting your trees remove a circle of grass or ground cover to a radius of three feet, taking the tree as the center of the circle, and add a layer of mulch, which will deter weeds and keep your tree well supplied with water and nutrients.

In terms of spacing, dwarf apple trees will need staking and should be planted between eight to 12 feet apart, semi-dwarf apple trees are hardier and should not require staking and can be planted ten to 15 feet apart, while standard trees should be planted 17 to 20 feet apart; proper spacing should ensure the effective pollination of your orchard. Your orchard is established now all you have to do is look after it.

Book for various variety of apple seedlings

 

Apples trees seedlings

 

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HOW TO PLANT GRAFTED APPLE TREES IN KENYA

Apples trees aren’t just for people with acres upon acres of land. Even in a small space, you can plant a hedge of dwarf apple trees or an apple espalier and yield a successful crop.

Planting

 

Climate Considerations

  • Not every apple grows everywhere. Each variety has a specific number of days needed for fruit maturity.
  • Tree tags don’t always tell you where the variety grows best, but many catalogs do.
  • Each variety has several chill hours needed to set fruit (i.e., the amount of time temperatures is between 32 and 45 degrees F).

 

Site and Soil

  • Contact Oxfarm for soil test prior to planting your apple trees. Oxfarm can instruct you in collecting the soil sample, help you interpret the results, and provide valuable information about the soil in your county. Results from the soil test will determine the soil amendments necessary to correct nutrient deficiencies and adjust soil pH. The amendments should be worked into the soil to a depth of 12 to 18 inches where the tree will root, not just the planting hole.
  • Apple trees need well-drained soil, nothing too wet. Soil needs to be moderately rich and retain moisture as well as air; mulch with straw, hay, or some other organic material to keep soil moist and provide nutrients as they decompose.
  • Choose a sunny site. For best fruiting, an apple-tree needs “full sunlight,” which means six or more hours of direct summer sun daily.
  • Tree spacing is influenced by the rootstock, soil fertility, and pruning. Seedlings or full-size trees should be planted about 15 to 18 feet apart in a row. A dwarfing rootstock might be 4 to 8 feet apart in a row.
  • Dwarf apple trees are notoriously prone to uprooting under the weight of a heavy crop, so you should provide a support system for your hedge. You can grow your trees against a fence, or you can provide free-standing support in the form of a trellis.
  • Do not plant trees near wooded areas or trees.

Planting the Tree in the Ground

 

  • Before planting, remove all weeds and the grass in a 4-foot diameter circle.
  • After you purchase Our seedlings, protect it from injury, drying out, freezing, or overheating. If the roots have dried out, soak them in water about 24 hours before planting.
  • Dig a hole approximately twice the diameter of the root system and 2 feet deep. Place some of the loose soil back into the hole and loosen the soil on the walls of the planting hole so the roots can easily penetrate the soil. Spread the tree roots on the loose soil, making sure they are not twisted or crowded in the hole. Continue to replace soil around the roots. As you begin to cover the roots, firm the soil to be sure it surrounds the roots and to remove air pockets.
  • Do not add fertilizer at planting time, as the roots can be “burned”. Fill the remainder of the hole with the loose soil, and press the soil down well.

All our apple trees are grafted. The graft union must be at least 2 inches above the soil line so that roots do not emerge from the scion. The graft union (where the scion is attached to the rootstock) can be recognized by the swelling at the junction.

CARE

Minimize Pruning of a Young Tree

Pruning slows a young tree’s overall growth and can delay fruiting, so don’t be in a hurry to prune, other than removing misplaced, broken, or dead branches. There are several techniques to direct growth without heavy pruning. For example:

  • Rub off misplaced buds before they grow into misplaced branches.
  • Bend a stem down almost horizontally for a few weeks to slow growth and promote branches and fruiting. Tie down with strings to stakes in the ground or to lower branches.

Prune a Mature Tree Annually

Once an apple tree has filled in and is bearing fruit, it requires regular, moderate pruning.

  • Prune your mature tree when it is dormant. Completely cut away overly vigorous, upright stems (most common high up in the tree).
  • Remove weak twigs (which often hang from the undersides of limbs.
  • Shorten stems that become too droopy, especially those low in the tree.
  • After about ten years, fruiting spurs (stubby branches that elongate only about a half-inch per year) become overcrowded and decrepit. Cut away some of them and shorten others.
  • When a whole limb of fruiting spurs declines with age, cut it back to make room for a younger replacement.

Thin Ruthlessly

  • Thin or remove excess fruit. This seems hard but this practice evens out production, prevents a heavy crop from breaking limbs, and ensures better-tasting, larger fruit crop.
  • Soon after fruit-set, remove the smallest fruits or damaged ones, leaving about four inches between those that remain.

PESTS/DISEASES

Apples are prone to pests. Here are some pointers:

  • Sprays may be needed for insects like Japanese beetles, although one of the worst culprits, the apple maggot, can be trapped simply enough by hanging one or two rounds, softball-size balls—painted red and coated with sticky “Tangle-Trap”.
  • Fend off diseases by raking apple leaves, burying them beneath mulch, or grinding them with a lawnmower at season’s end.
  • Pruning reduces disease by letting in more light and air.

To keep insects away from apple trees, make a solution of 1 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 quart of water. Pour this mixture into a widemouthed plastic jug. Hang the jug, uncovered, in your apple tree.

 

Harvest

Harvesting Apples

Harvest patiently. After all this pruning and caring, be sure to harvest your apples at their peak of perfection.

  • Pluck your apples when their background color is no longer green.
  • Different apple varieties mature at different times, so the harvest season can stretch from August to October.
  • At this point, the stem should part readily from the branch when the fruit is cupped in the palm of your hand and given a slight twist around, then up.

 

There you have it, before harvesting look for market or contact our offices and we will help you sell your apples. also get certified apple seedlings from us. Kindly visit our offices or contact us for more information.

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Apples trees seedlings