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Taking over pesticide orchards and going Organic?

 
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Hello all,

I'm kinda new to growing things, but I'm getting the hang of it pretty easily. Anyway, so I only want to grow organic fruit and vegetables. But I am looking at buying an acreage in Brazil where I can make it a reality (cheaper land, assuming better growing weather than South Australia where I am now, and wonderful surrounds).

So I have found a few properties, and they all already have like 50 existing fruit trees lol. sounds great, but I am assuming that they will have been sprayed with all the standard chemicals all their lives, so I doubt its as good as it initially sounds.

My question: if I were to take over these trees and never spray them again and ideally set up some form of integrated pest management and organic pest controls, would you then consider these trees as organic and the resulting fruits as not contaminated (with chemicals)? Or would they basically forever be inferior as far as healthy organic food goes?

I do plan on going to see the properties and take soil and water samples to make sure they aren't infused with chemicals and stuff.

any opinions/advice?

PS. this isn't for selling produce, so i'm not talking about meeting specific standards for sale or anything like that.

Thank you
 
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Location: Kentucky - Zone6
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Hi John,

I am not an expert, but here are my thoughts:

Pesticides are sprayed during the season when the fruit is on the tree and the fruit gets exposed that way, so as soon as you stop spraying I'd think most if not all of the exposure is gone in the next season. But even if I am wrong, organic is not 100% safe and non-organic is not 100% unsafe, just because you don't spray pesticides does not mean that the fruits will be super clean, there is harmful chemicals in the air, in the rain, in the dirt that will be exposed to the tree or the fruit. My approach is to do the best I can do avoid the -cides.  In your case, whatever fruit you will get from your orchard will be better than what you will get in the grocery store, worrying about it too much is probably more detrimental to your health than the chemicals on your fruit.

One thing to watch out for is your transition. Those trees have been nurtured with pesticides so the tree's "immunity system" to fight pests is not well-established. I would check out youtube videos from Stefan Sobkowiak or Permaculture Orchard who has done in Canada what you are planning on doing.

Regards

M
 
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The USA gov does a 3yr conversion from spray to organic certification. Not sure if they allow you to do it faster than 3yrs. I think that it would be fine. 1acre (0.4 hectare) can hold 100 to 200 fruit trees so you can probably just plant around those guys. Or just chop them down and replant. Esp if I can find more pest resistant cultivars and or cultivars that I enjoy more.

Personally I wouldn't have a problem eating from the formerly sprayed plants.
 
steward
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If you're lucky you might find or seek out neglected fruit trees that haven't been "cared for" (meaning poisoned).  Then there's really nothing to worry about.  I'd personally be fine eating from them once the sprayed fruit is gone and the next crop is ready.   I'd sell it to friends as "healthy" in two or three years.
 
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One would need a bit more info to make an informed decision on your question.

Brazil has a wide range of climates, which of those climates this land is in will change your answer. In short, if this location is in a tropical rain forest it may be very difficult to grow any of the common north american/european tree fruits without lots of spraying to control disease and possibly insects. Even in the US, in humid locations many people find it necessary to spray conventional pesticides in order to get some fruits (depends on the specific fruit and location, but generally true) and some fruits and varieties just won't grow there. There are organic versions for many of the conventional sprays, but I would not count of those being effective in a rain forest type environment (same goes for conventional sprays designed for temperate climates), you'd have to check.

Also, depending upon what types/varieties of fruit you wanted to grow, they may or may not be suitable to that climate. Many fruit trees require a minimum amount of winter chill before they will produce fruit. And others may not be hardy in very warm climates. To see what will or won't you'd have to check individual fruit varieties against the climate details of your proposed land.

In short, it all depends upon the climate details of this land and what you want to grow there.






 
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Converting an existing orchard may be tuff. The reason i say that is layout. A common practice is alternating trees to confuse the bugs. If you have all apples then the bugs will eat your apples, then jump to the next tree and. ..eat your apples. If there is a plum and a blackberry vine in between the 2 apple trees, the apple bug may never find the next apple tree. Add a nitrogen fixing tree between the 2 and now fertilizing expectations may be lower.

So if this pattern placement is part of your overall design, are you willing to cut down a good portion of your trees vs starting from scratch?

Something to think about. You may be cutting out 4 out of 5 healthy producing trees.
 
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