Starting a new orchard

stimey(6a)March 26, 2014

Here in Wichita ks a group of us are putting in a community orchard if you want to call it that, the soil by most part is dark clay we are doing 24 trees, apple, pear, cherry, peach, and plums. I have an 8 tree orchard at home that is moderately successful considering I started this 6 yrs ago 4 of those trees came from the big box store, all of the 4 were suppose to be semi dwarf, I am certain one of them cant be it has out grew the others by 2 fold, go figure. At any rate I would love some input on variety, root stock etc. what I have in mind at the moment is a variety called Kansas sweet cherry? anyone heard of it or has any experience with it? My peach trees at home typical bloom to early and get froze, is there a peach variety that is later blooming that works here in Kansas? The apples I have been looking at are disease resistant variety's, not to picky with the apples as long as they are disease resistant. I am stringing the post out to far so I will wait to hear what you guys have to say. Thanks for any help you may offer.

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Ill tell you the same thing I tell everyone who says theyre starting an orchard:
Researxh permaculture and see if it interests you. There are tons of videos on youtube.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 7:30PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I live south of KC. Peaches are typically a decent crop in KS. The last total freeze out for peaches I've experienced was in 07. In 1900, KS was the #4 peach state w/ 4 million trees planted.

That said, I know Wichita is a bit tougher because the area has warmer temps than here (which advance bud development) but still seems to have the same late frosts. Still, there are lots of peach orchards in Oklahoma, KC and Topeka, so you are surrounded by peach growing areas. I would think you could grow peaches in Wichita. There used to be quite a few peach orchards there.

The one drawback you may experience with your community orchard is being forced to spray for pests. Typically community orchards don't have a spray regimen which may not work where you're at.

Here pest pressure is pretty heavy to the point that no apples, peaches or plums could be grown without sprays. The problem is all the unmanaged fruit trees in my locale producing a perfect breeding ground for pests. You may or may not experience the same with your community orchard.

For a disease resistant apple, I like Enterprise. I've tried Liberty, but it never produced an apple I liked so I pulled it out. Redfree was better, but I ended up pulling it out too.

I planted a Kansas Sweet cherry in 2012, but lost it because of the dry summer. It didn't give me any warning. Healthy one day, foliage all burned up the next time I looked it. I lost one other new cherry tree that summer.

Know that Kansas Sweet is really not a sweet cherry. It's described as a sweet tart. I have 3 other of those type varieties. They are sweeter than a montmorency, but if you are expecting a sweet cherry, you will be disappointed.

Canadian has a good point. Permaculture focuses on plants which naturally do well in an area without pesticides. Just make sure you look at permaculture for your area. Plants which are pest free in dry areas of Canada or California won't necessarily do well here in KS.

Pawpaw is one fruit which needs no spray here. The trees are a bit difficult to establish, but I like the fruit. It smells wonderful. They are native to KS. I'd recommend you try a few improved varieties in your community orchard.

This post was edited by olpea on Wed, Mar 26, 14 at 19:45

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 7:43PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I think you should post this in your Kansas forum, and if there isn't one, mid-west? Those people know varieties that will grow well there. Also local nurseries (not the big box stores) will also know the right varieties to choose.

Good luck. Sounds like a great project!


    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 7:45PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I disagree local nurseries will know the best varieties in KS. That may be true in CA, but my experience is that local nurseries here don't have a clue when it comes to tree fruit here.

The problem is that there just isn't that much tree fruit grown here compared to CA. Local nurseries sell varieties with store name recognition here. Varieties like Bartlett pear and Bing cherry, which really aren't suited for this area (even though I have two Bartlett varieties - one of them was almost taken about by fireblight a few years ago).

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 8:00PM
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jagchaser(5A NE, -15-115f may frost)

I agree with Olpea, even the local nurseries around here will sell you whatever they can. With the local nurseries you can normally count on getting what the label says, that is the only real difference between them and the box stores. Every nursery I have ever stopped at had bing cherries for sale here, and they just do not work in KS or NE.

I remember stopping at a U-Pick just south of Wichita once. I don't know the guy, but I know he had lots of peaches and other fruits. You might be able to stop by and pick his brain to see what works for him.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 8:06AM
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Thanks for the reply s guys, I agree the problem with peaches in wichita is that it warms up to soon my current peach tree buds are swelling up right now, I like the warm weather but it really is a problem when you no your going to have another freeze. I have been doing a lot of research and have been maintaining an orchard for a number of years at the house, when I say community I should better phrase it as a company orchard, its a family run and owned company, there will be about 10 of us taking care and maintaining it, there will be a spray program, we have designed the irrigation system, and layout. I know several people have suggested Bing and I have talked them out of that, because everyone wants a sweet cherry I am doing what I can to come as close to it as I can. I have montamercy at home so I know they wont like the tartness for fresh eating. I sent an email to wagon wheel in gardner ks but no response as of yet, I like Adams but was trying to target local growers hoping I would get better suited trees for Wichita, or at least Kansas area. We have a tree nursery here in Wichita that really seem to know what they are doing but they are not particularly focused on fruit trees, they carry a broader range of trees with individual prices being rather inflated. I need to contact adams and see if I order from them if the trees will be bare root or not, I hear fall plating is better for bare roots. Thanks again for your help

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 9:19AM
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Check this out

Here is a link that might be useful: miracle farms

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 1:13PM
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If your going to do a spray program might as well do some more interesting apple trees then just disease resistant ones. I have Enterprise which is okay for cooking and Liberty is okay for off the tree eating and apple sauce. Do a little searching and you will find some really nice heirloom or newer varieties to plant.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 3:13PM
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Here is my list guys give me your feed back, be gentle cause I have already ordered.
Apples. Buckeye Gala , coop 31 winecrisp, Querina, Dandee Red,
Pears. Magness, Potomac, Sunrise, Blades pride.
Peaches. Contender
Plums. Stanley, President, Ruby Queen, Santa Rosa.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 9:05AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


That looks like a fine list to get started. Although you look a little light on peaches:-) (I say that because they're my favorite.)

You may run into a bit of a problem with the J. plums, Ruby Queen and Santa Rosa. They actually bloom earlier than peaches.

Your pears look good and fireblight resistant.

Where'd you end up getting your trees from?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 9:21AM
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My trees are not here yet, I ordered them from Adams, I got 4ea. of the peach, actually I got 4ea. of each tree for a total of 26 trees . Adams said the contender peach was a late bloomer whatever that means I don't know, the peaches I have at home have already bloomed and I have seen 34 degs several nights. If they would bloom 2 weeks later I would be in good shape, I have one peach tree at home that was mislabeled from the big box store, I got one crop off of it that was absolutely fantastic but yet to have it happen again due to freeze. Over the week end I got my irrigation system in, tilled 5 foot squares where each tree will go. My plans is to mulch with wood chips, hoping this will work down into the clay and help mellow the soil over time, I am open to all the advice that anyone want to offer, thanks for the encouragement opea we have conversed in the past several time.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 1:11PM
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for a sweet cherry you might try a Lapins they are self fruitful and should grow and produce there.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 3:48PM
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Thanks Hillbilly I will look into it.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 1:04PM
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