Orchard Planning and Site Preparation

Tara Auxt Baugher

Mistakes made in planning and planting an orchard are difficult to reverse. Before establishing a new orchard block, astute growers carefully assess all the factors that will ultimately affect fruit quality, production efficiency, and orchard sustainability. Proper planning includes evaluations of business goals, management style, site characteristics, global planting trends, regional production statistics for different systems, and market potential. University extension services offer enterprise budgets for calculating internal rate of return or net present value for various fruit crops and systems. Fruit growing is a high-risk venture, and many new computer programs allow growers to conduct sensitivity analyses. Optimal site preparation and planting involve thinking in terms of managing tree roots for increased orchard performance. Physical, chemical, and biological properties of the soil must be considered. Soil structure is a major concern on a new site. A replant site requires extensive renovation to avoid tree mortality or stunted growth.

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