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What is Orchard Management?

Apples are grown in orchards.
Dates growing on a date palm.
Passion fruit growing on the tree.
Orchard management involves every aspect of planting and tree care.
After the fruit has grown, it must be harvested and sold.
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  • Written By: Margo Upson
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2014
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Fruit and nut orchards require a lot of work and planning. From the purchasing of the land and the planting of the fruit trees, through the tending of the crop and then the harvesting and selling of the product, there are a lot of details to attend to. Orchard management involves any and all of the steps that go into turning a plot of land into a successful and profitable crop.

Orchard management starts before the trees are planted. Orchard owners need to determine what their goals for the orchard will be. Priorities, work plans, and evaluation methods will also be set in place at this time. The soil must be tested for nutrients, and there needs to be a specific plan for what will be planted where. This involves knowing what grows well in the area, and what fruits and nuts there is a demand for. The tree saplings are then planted according to the plan, in a way that will encourage pollination and maximum growth.

The second phase of orchard management is tree care. This includes fertilizing and treating the crop with insecticides. It also includes knowing how to handle a diseased tree, and having a plan in place for disasters, like fires, hail, or freezes. Checking each tree for problems, like rot, mildew, or bugs, can be time consuming, but it is a necessary step. The sooner potential problems are discovered, the better the chance of being able to rescue and repair the tree.

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After the fruit has grown, it is time to harvest and sell it. Hiring a group of workers to help harvest, keeping track of the amount of fruit gathered, and then finding markets for the fruit are also part of orchard management. There are a lot of details to record and keep track of. The average size of the fruit, the age of the trees, and how much fruit each type of tree produces will need to be recorded, allowing the owner to use this information to improve next years yield.

There is a lot that goes into successful orchard management. Many orchard owners do these tasks themselves, or even hire an individual, or a group of people, to help with these tasks. There are also orchard management companies that can help owners meet their goals through successful management practices. Having a management plan in place can make a huge difference in the success of an orchard.

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letshearit
Post 4

I remember when I was younger visiting an apple orchard with my family once a year. My parents were friends with the orchard manager, and he had a few weeks a season where he would open up the orchard to the locals and you could pay for the apples you picked. We always got invited for a couple of free bushels.

Looking back on it now, I remember how excited I was to wander through the trees collecting apples. It was incredibly novel.

I imagine that the orchard made good money during this time, and overall it was a very clever business move. Getting people to pay you extra to harvest your crops? And then pay for the product too? Fantastic.

Sara007
Post 3

Orchard management can be really demanding on a whole family if the manager is running their own orchard. My husband's family had a cherry orchard for many years, and while his father took care of most of the detailed paperwork and hiring of extra help, a lot of the dividing of tasks such as tree care, came upon the family to assist with.

Orchard management for them was very much a family task, with even the youngest members chipping in to make sure the trees were being taken care of. It was a huge responsibility.

I don't think you see much of this kind of family cooperation these days.

oscar23
Post 2

Running an orchard is actually a humongous sort of enterprise. Most of us think of the process at only one time per year – when it’s time to pick the apples- but really those into orchard property management are on the ball all year long.

They work and work for a whole year just to get to that one point successfully – harvest. And, when you’re dealing with something like Mother Nature, you don’t always have a whole lot of control over the way things work out in the field in terms of crop production.

Sure, folks use pesticides to help keep the plants from getting eaten up before they are in full glory, and they do all that they can to keep them from getting diseased. There’s pruning and taking out those that just aren’t bearing. However, you can’t stop a hurricane from knocking all of the fruit to the ground. You just can’t control Mother Nature.

And, on top of all of that, large orchards have to hire huge crews each and every year at harvest time to bring the crops in. They have to be in the business for more than just the money, I can tell you.

mabeT
Post 1

I live in an area where all kinds of things are commonly grown, from fields full of corn to orchards full of fruit. We even have a vineyard nearby, which is very quaint, I think.

One thing is for sure, though. Anyone who wants to get into the process of living from the land and making their income that way has to have some guts. Everything, and I mean everything, affects the crops.

For instance, we’re in a pretty good dry spell right now. We haven’t had rain for 24 days in a row, up until yesterday. When you’re talking about acres of land with acres of fruit there really isn’t a very economical way to water it all. I mean, sure I can pull my little raised bed through with plenty of water from the hose, but orchards and the like don’t get much of that.

However, there is also the perk of knowing that you really worked for your money and that you really were able to do it, too. Most of the farmers around here wouldn’t do anything else, whether they are out in the apple orchards or down in the cotton field.

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