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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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PROFITABLE APPLE FARMING IN KENYA

Oppotunity for Farmers

The saying goes that apple a day keeps the doctor away it’s a commonly used mostly to describe the importance of apple consumption. Using a recent survey Kenya imported 4000 tonnes of apples in 2016 representing about Ksh. 160 million. This shows the high demand of apples that many farmers are not meeting locally and for the agripreneurs that’s a good opportunity to invest in. Most parts of Kenya are ideal for apple farming and with more than 400 known varieties we as oxfarm will guide you to know the best varieties suited to your area of farming.

Health benefits

  • Apples are rich in soluble fiber which has been shown to reduce intestinal disorders.
  • Helps in control of insulin levels by releasing sugar level slowly in the blood stream.
  • Lowers cholesterol levels and the risk of respiratory diseases
  • Cleans and detoxifies the body
  • Strengthens the heart and quenches thirst
  • It’s a good control of obesity

The most commonly grown varieties of apples in Kenya include winter banana, anna, top red, brae burn, Fiji, golden dorset, and cripps lady.

They prefer sandy-loamy soil that run deep and drain easily with a recommended PH of 5.5-6.5. spacing of 3m by 3m and planted in a hole measuring 2ft by 2ft. Require rainfall of 800-1100mm per year.

 

How profitable is apple farming

For the grafted varieties they start fruiting as early at 9 months but full profitability on the fifth year with a tree having more than 20 years life span. A mature well managed apple tree can produce more than 500 fruits in a season. An acre at a good spacing can accommodate 500 trees where at farm gate a fruit retail an average of 15-30. Hence a single tree can give a return of an average of 10000, and a one acre apple orchard can give a return of Ksh 500k. An apple fruit can be stored for four to eight months and even more when refrigerated.

 

RELATED: Lucrative Passion-Fruit Farming In Kenya

 

 

MANAGEMENT

Require pruning on first two to three years to attain a desirable shape of the tree and also remove the unwanted branches, it require low temperature of 13 degrees to break dormancy but early dormancy can also be triggered through the use of chemicals or mechanically through defoliation of leaves.

 

CONTROL PEST AND DISEASES

Major pests are birds, aphids, thrips, spider mites, fruit fries, and codling moth

Diseases include apple scab, powdey mildew and armiralia root rot

Preventative control for these pest and diseases is ensuring certified seedling that are free, also observe high standard hygiene in your garden.

For more on how to control of pest and diseases, varieties suitable for your area, certified seedling visit us in our offices hermes house Tom Mboya Street 1st floor.

Check for more details on apple farming in our online shop.

 

Apples trees seedlings