How Do I Become a Fruit Tree Grower?

C. Mitchell

Depending on where you live, it is usually possible to become a fruit tree grower on a recreational basis simply by planting and tending a fruit-bearing tree. Fruit trees often take a few years to mature to the point where they will yield a harvest, but with a bit of attention and proper care, the practice is relatively simple. Commercial fruit tree farming, on the other hand, is usually a much more complex endeavor. To become a fruit tree grower on a commercial basis, you will likely need significant orchard training, as well as the business acumen to manage finances, administer a pay roll, and hire help.

Passion fruit growing on the tree.
Passion fruit growing on the tree.

For many backyard gardeners, fruit trees make wonderful, productive additions to many different landscapes. Growing fruit trees is generally a bit more challenging than growing most other plants. It is usually best to do a bit of research about the sorts of trees that grow well in your climate and soil type before making an investment.

Dates growing on a date palm.
Dates growing on a date palm.

Most gardeners elect to purchase established trees from a nursery. While it is possible to grow a fruit tree from a seed, it is incredibly difficult. It can take upwards of ten years for a seed to grow into a fruit-producing tree. Many nurseries and orchard supply stores sell ready-to-plant trees that are only a year or so away from maturation. Starting with one of these kinds of trees is the simplest way to become a fruit tree grower.

Granny Smith apple trees grow well in many climates.
Granny Smith apple trees grow well in many climates.

Many recreational fruit tree growers intersperse fruit trees with flowering plants and other garden elements to create a year-round garden, where something is blooming or growing at a variety of heights in each season. Apple trees and cherry trees are some of the most hearty and are likely to grow well in many climates. Peach, plum, apricot, and others can be more sensitive when it comes to temperature and soil condition, but they can often be made to grow almost anywhere with the right care.

Peach trees can grow almost anywhere.
Peach trees can grow almost anywhere.

You will probably need to do a bit of research to become a fruit tree grower at home, but the required knowledge is relatively straightforward. The same is not always true for those wishing to enter the commercial fruit growing business. Large-scale fruit growing takes a lot of planning, a keen sense of horticulture and plant biology, and the ability to run a commercial enterprise.

Pomegranates grow during the winter.
Pomegranates grow during the winter.

Operating a fruit orchard is rarely as easy as it may look. Purchasing land is the first step, but it is by no means the last. You will have to cultivate the soil to optimize the conditions for whatever kind of fruit it is you are planning to grow. Acquiring and planting the trees comes next, taking account of proper spacing and soil depth.

Large-scale fruit tree farming also requires a lot of asset management. You will likely need a staff to help inspect the trees for health, monitor their moisture, apply pesticides and bird nets as needed, and harvest the fruit when it is ripe. A system of marketing your fruit, distributing it to vendors, and setting prices is also a big part of the job.

One of the easiest ways to become a fruit tree grower in the commercial realm is to study under an established orchard owner. Working with the trees yourself and learning from a seasoned expert can provide hand-on experience that is not easily replicated. Maintaining contacts in the industry is also a good way to get questions answered quickly and often also to receive references and tips about everything from managing employees to designing a brand.

Operating a large orchard will require a number of management skills, including accounting and asset management.
Operating a large orchard will require a number of management skills, including accounting and asset management.

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