When it comes to apple farming, taking shortcuts and trying a set-and-forget method is doomed to fail. Successful apple picking takes time and effort, including proper plant selection, pest protection and general affection.
If you’re short of the time and patience it takes to herald fruit from your farm, it may be best to find a hobby or a fruit that requires less attention.
But don’t be deterred! There’s nothing sweeter or more rewarding than plucking that first apple of the season and knowing your efforts have all been worth it. All it takes is to start small and do your research!
In this first of a two-part series on maintaining an apple farm, we discuss how to do your research in preparation and how to plant your apple trees with care.
Doing Your Research
There are quite a few things to consider when planning an apple farm.
Hundreds of years of cross-pollination have led to there being thousands of kinds of apples to choose from. Selecting the right one based on climate, geography, acreage, ground conditions and disease resistance is crucial to your farm’s success.
Make sure to consider which type will suit your site best. Some of New Zealand’s most popular apples include the Gala, Braeburn, Jazz, Queen and Pacific Rose. All five species are native to New Zealand and so they are best suited to its climate.
Gala apples, for example, are also highly adaptable to different types of soil, making them relatively easy to grow in many other countries.
If you opt for a less adaptable apple, soil testing will be even more important to ensure your ground conditions are hospitable for the plant.
Your soil should have optimal levels of calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sulphur, or else your trees will be susceptible to disease.
Planting Your Trees
Once you’ve understood your future orchard’s unique needs and selected a tree, there are certain steps to take as you plant it.
Starting small is important in apple farming as you don’t want to overreach and have more trees to care for than you can handle.
Once you’ve plotted out your land, clear all weeds and grass from each plant site with a diameter of about 1.2 metres.
If the roots of your plant have dried out before planting, soak them in water for 24 hours before shoving them into the soil. This will give them the best chance to survive and thrive.
Seedlings or full-size trees should be planted 5 to 6 metres apart in a row, while dwarfing rootstocks can be planted 1 to 3 metres apart.
Place them in a hole roughly double the width of the root system (for developed trees) and 60cm feet deep.
Make sure to stray from fertiliser in these early stages as this can burn the roots in their infancy.
Once the soil is replaced and the roots begin to take hold, this is where watering and general tree maintenance become critical.
Get In Touch With Galaxy Group
Next month, we will discuss some equally important elements of apple farming – caring for your trees and plucking the fruits of your labour.
If you’re still left with some burning questions about the intricacies of apple farming, let us know how we can help to get you going.
The team at Galaxy Group have decades of agricultural experience and would be happy to help you get the start you need. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a budding professional farmer, we’ve got the tools and expertise you need.