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Orchard Losses and Sales

 
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Hey all, I'm in the middle of planning out a permaculture orchard and wanted to get a better understanding of the crop loss expected due to disease or unsold crop on a year to year basis.

Of course, this is all subject to what area people are growing in but I'm curious what peoples experiences are right now with managing fruit trees and fruit tree diseases? Currently I'm interested in growing apples, pears, and plums.

Anyone here willing to share their stories on disease management and what kind of crop loss I should roughly expect per year? My hope is to build a permaculture orchard around a small grouping of cabins for family and friends and the idea is for the orchard to fund most of this. Is this a realistic goal?
 
master gardener
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Welcome to Permies!

I am just starting my own venture into fruit trees, mostly apples, so I don't have any advice at the moment.

Where abouts are you growing if you don't mind sharing?

My experiences in the Northeast worrying about late frosts might be a non-issue for you if your located in a warmer region. It might help target better suggestions or expectations for you.
 
Na Smith
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Timothy Norton wrote:Welcome to Permies!

I am just starting my own venture into fruit trees, mostly apples, so I don't have any advice at the moment.

Where abouts are you growing if you don't mind sharing?

My experiences in the Northeast worrying about late frosts might be a non-issue for you if your located in a warmer region. It might help target better suggestions or expectations for you.



Thanks

I'm currently starting this journey so we are in the middle of looking for some land. I live in Quebec but my wife is American and we're thinking of relocating to either Upstate NY, Vermont, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, or Colorado. We lean towards staying in the Northeast to be closer to family but she also has family out in Colorado so that direction is a possibility. I've heard a lot about the dangers of fire blight so I wanted to get ahead of the issue by getting a better grasp of average crop losses per year.
 
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Every backyard gardener has a few apple trees. They gift apples to everyone they know. Hard to sell apples because of their abundant productivity.

Harvested plums go bad within a few days of harvest. Plums succumb fairly often to early spring frosts.

Pears flower later and usually miss the fall frosts. The fruits store longer than plums. Few people grow pears.

 
steward
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Yes welcome to permies Nathaniel!

Nathaniel Smith wrote:Hey all, I'm in the middle of planning out a permaculture orchard and wanted to get a better understanding of the crop loss expected due to disease or unsold crop on a year to year basis.



I'm just getting the first fruits from my trees and one thing I've learned is that long storage is probably one of the most important things.  Varieties that are good keepers can stay on the tree for a longer time instead of having to be rushed to be picked before they go bad. They can also be kept to sell over a longer period of time, sometimes months, whereas some varieties are only good for about a week, so don't have a long marketable period.

Of course, this is all subject to what area people are growing in but I'm curious what peoples experiences are right now with managing fruit trees and fruit tree diseases? Currently I'm interested in growing apples, pears, and plums.



Scab and fireblight are probably the main diseases for pears and apples, with scab being worse in the cooler climates and fireblight in the warmer climates. Variety choice has been super important for me here where I grow fruit. Some varieties are completely immune and some are extremely susceptible, so by picking immune ones it makes it so much easier to grow no spray fruit. My main issue with plums is the plum curculio, which causes almost complete losses of peaches and plums here.

Anyone here willing to share their stories on disease management and what kind of crop loss I should roughly expect per year? My hope is to build a permaculture orchard around a small grouping of cabins for family and friends and the idea is for the orchard to fund most of this. Is this a realistic goal?



I've had losses from fireblight on susceptible varieties destroy 95% of the potential crop, where the blossoms become infected and die along with whole branches sometimes. However on resistant varieties nearby will have 0 losses. I've heard scab is similar, but we don't get scab thankfully here.

I think it's an awesome goal to have the orchard fund things, but I've learned that it is a long process from planting to getting good harvests, so it might take 5-10 years to get good large harvests. It's definitely worth it though, best of luck!

Steve
 
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I have no experience in this, but I do have keen interest in land based enterprises.
I am going to suggest that a value added approach will give more consistent results.
Cider,perry, vinegars, jams, etc allow you to profit from unsightly and excess fruit.
 
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I think Mark Shepard of Restoration Ag has a great answer for your questions.

 
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In my area anyone who wants to start an orchard of any type is going to have a hard row to hoe. Pests and diseases aside, the increasingly erratic weather has put a stop to reliable fruit production here. I still grow various fruits and still usually get a good harvest of something. Maybe it's grapes one year, pears another. Peaches and apples are down to maybe one year in five.

The only commercial orchard left around here ripped out their peach trees and converted that ground to fall ornamental row crops, gourds and corn. I don't know how they do it, but they do still usually have some apples. You don't see big wagon loads of them anymore though, and you don't just stop in at random to buy some. It's all pre-order and by appointment now. I don't think they have had any unsold excess for a long time.

My only apples for years, have come from trees grown from seeds of old feral trees, same with peaches. They are fine but of little commercial value due to small size and less than perfect appearance. Plumbs are even harder to come by, even our wild trees rarely produce anymore. Pears do quite a bit better producing well, maybe one year in three but people don't seem to care about them like they do apples and peaches.

 
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