Just cleared 8 acres need help planning apple orchard

downeastaApril 7, 2013

I am in coastal downeast Maine. Got 65 acres just had 8 acres cleared my plan is to squeeze as many apple, peach, pear, high bush blueberry and raspberries as possible on it.

We just cleared the land and it was mostly spruce and cedar. lots of native blueberrie already were growing where i had it cleared.

Well now my question is this... can i just dig massive holes with a machine amend the soil and throw each plant into there own nicely amended hole? I am worried about the acidity of the soil.. the fact that spruce were thriving tell me its more acidic then normal.. will a properly amended hole be good enough to grow a healthly apple tree? or am i going to need to amend the whole area where i plan to plant the apple trees??\

I am worried that over time the acidic water will soak into the amended holes that i plan to dig inturn killing the apple tree or causing nutrient lock.

also how far should i be spreading the apple trees from each other on center??

I plan to buy a 100 trees to start.

any input suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated. I am open to anything

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The members here will be able to give you better advice if they knew the purpose of your orchard; as a home hobby, farm stand, pick-your-own, hard cider, or specialty variety? How much effort do you want to put into it, as far as irrigation, trellising, deer protection? Have you considered a cover crop the first year that would be tilled in to add organic matter and raise the pH?

If you plant without properly addressing the pH, it is much more difficult to address afterwards.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 6:32PM
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If you're embarking on a project that size, first thing should be a professional soil test, not just guessing about it.

As Applenut says, easier to fix before planting than after.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 7:20PM
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jagchaser(5A NE, -15-115f may frost)

Even at 30ft spacing which seems way up there, you will only use 2 acres for 100 trees. 20x20 ft spacing would use less than an acre for the same 100 trees.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:50PM
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a deer fence, or be prepared to replant. and a test soil.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 11:27PM
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Now is the time for planing and ground work not planting. Look at drainage, parking equipment, mowing, spraying, future expansion. Olpea has some good posts and pics of mound layout, Scott of spacing ect. Future things like lime (3 tons per ac per year is best spread by 10 yard truck with a sander type spreader) . I didn't and he has to back down each row . it is still way cheaper than bags . After a soil test fertilizer can be mixed spicific and spread the same way. At least you are close to the peat bogs for bulk delivery of that. Who did the land clearing?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 6:39AM
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alan haigh

First place I'd go is your cooperative extension and your state's land grant university for a project of this size. They can provide you with guidance more localized and more informed about projects of this scale. Just as good or better would be to find a local orchard and pump the owner for info over lunch you pay for.

If you are not research oriented and like to dive in barely prepared, then start with an acre and grow as you learn.

You apparently intend to market the fruit and a commercial venture involves issues that very few participants in this forum need deal with. Put a shout out to Olpea who mostly grows peaches but has a good handle on small market growing.

Once the harvest season begins you can also check out local farmers markets and see whose fruits are drawing the most sales and perhaps make some contacts for information later when they aren't so busy trying to sell their goods.

By your comments about how you plan to establish trees I believe you are just beginning this process- a danger is biting off too big a piece for your baby teethe to chew, no matter how brave, strong and determined you are. Growing fruit is not simple. Growing fruit for profit is really, really hard.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 8:14AM
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I agree with all the above....this year should be research, planning, testing, amending, cover cropping, ect....

If you are really desperate to dive in and get going with actual trees (availabiltiy of many cultivars will be limited by this point...although there are some good sales prices to be had)

Consider a large nursery bed with amended loose soil where you can "park" a load of young trees for a year or two in tight spacing, let them size up for planting out into your larger acreage once you and the soil are ready.

lots of us have done this on small scale, and I believe Harvestman does this at the comercial level in his own nursery?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 8:42AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Some good advice given.

I hope you don't take all the advice as discouragement. I recognize most of the people who have posted on this thread so far. They are regular posters who have been raising fruit for a while. Certainly long enough to realize the adversity and challenges in growing fruit.

The problem is that most people new to fruit growing (this was certainly true for me when I started) have an unrealistic expectation in what's involved in it.

I mention this because the information in your post implies you don't have much experience in this area. When I first started I didn't even know enough information to really know the right questions to ask. Likewise I see that in your post. Please don't find my comments discouraging or condescending. I just want to give you a good dose of reality.

Fruit growing seems like it should be easy - just plant and pick, after all a lot of garden crops are that way. Even a toddler can plant and harvest radishes. But a child growing tree fruit after success with radishes would be analogous to a kid constructing a house after success building a fort.

Fruit growing is hard, most of the time success built upon lots of failures. Folks that regularly post on this forum have not been bashful of their failures, or the level of comment required for success.

Fruitnut tried for years to grow fruit outside. After repeated failure due to late frosts in his area, he finally built a greenhouse and eventually developed for himself an inside fruit culture that works very well for him.

Harvestman has been growing fruit for 40+ years I believe, and has been clear he grew into it through "hard knocks".

I myself have made a ton of mistakes. I started out planting all the wrong varieties, lost lots of trees, pruned all wrong at first, etc. All this after asking lots of questions and doing what I thought was a fair amount of research. I have learned some things since then (and still am learning) but it's required an almost fanatical amount of commitment. When I started, I would stop by houses of complete strangers if I spotted a fruit tree, to examine their fruit tree and talk with them about it. I worked 1/2 day with a local orchardist to learn how he pruned his trees. For a while I was on three different fruit forums and read every post that was posted and just about every post I had access to in the archives (years and years of archived posts). I've also regularly read lots commercial newsletters for years.

Again I mention all of this for your own benefit. Each of these people who posted above could tell their own stories of failure and the high level of commitment required.

As to your specific question, it is generally not recommended to amend the planting hole, especially in a commercial venture.

Site preparation is an integral part of any large planting. Last year I planted a new peach planting, but the year before, we started site preparation. Here site preparation involves planting in the top of terraces for peaches (apples and pears don't require terraces). Site prep for me was three times the cost of the trees. Average tree cost was about 10 bucks/tree (I graft some of my own which helps some) whereas site prep was about 30 dollars/tree.

As others mentioned, I would also recommend a soil test and fertilize/amend as recommended. For my new peach planting I did not soil test, but I use generous amounts of wood chips as mulch, which are a nice balanced fertilizer in their own right. If I were planting lots of apples and pears, I would certainly do soil testing, especially if I didn't have experience growing them in the area.

In terms of tree spacing, it depends on what you are planting, what rootstocks you plan to use, whether you plan to drip irrigate or run a dry orchard, and the size of equipment you plan to use for mowing, spraying, and harvesting. Of course you would not want to intermix different tree fruits in a commercial planting, which would be a spraying nightmare.

For my orchard I used 18' spacing with 25' rows, but I recognize this is very unusual for commercial spacing. Most commercial plantings are much higher density. I chose ultra low density because I wanted plenty of room for U-pick and higher density peach plantings require more labor (which I value very highly). Dry orchard trees also require more space for their roots to scavenge water. One disadvantage about such wide rows is that I'm not absolutely sure I can hit both rows in one pass with an airblast sprayer (I knew this when I prepared the rows). I may have to drive down closer to one side of the rows to get good penetration (and shut off the other side) and then drive back close to the other side of the row, for a second pass. In other words just spraying one side at a time. An advantage of wide rows is that you don't drive in the same ruts when spraying. In the spring this can be an advantage indeed, because tractors can cut some pretty deep ruts when pulling a sprayer on the same path. There's also some thought a lower density planting is less susceptible to disease spread.

Ultimately, when you start asking about spacing, you are not going to get a consistent answer. This is because everyone has different rootstocks, different tree culture, and different goals. For maximum early yields high density planting is usually the best (but also requires the highest labor). When trying to decide spacing on my new peach planting, I asked Jerry Frecon (a recognized peach expert in the U.S.). This was part of his response:

"I could take you to orchards with 16' row spacing. When trees are heavily laden with fruit, you can hardly walk down the rows. I see the growers drive equipment through these blocks and break limbs, knock off and bruise fruit but he does not worry about it because he says he is picking up to
1200 bushels per acre at this close spacing and high vigor."

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 11:58AM
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alan haigh

Windfall, that's just what I'm doing today. Planting plums and apples at about 30" spacing in my fenced garden area. Allows me to get a lot of trees started in a small space and when they're bigger and stronger in a year or three I move them out into the "big world" where there will be deer and more competition from weeds. Doesn't take too much time to dig them out bare root when the time comes.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 2:37PM
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alan haigh

Oh, and olpea, just wanted to compliment you on your extreme courtesy. Midwesterners have a rep for politeness but you've refined it to art.

I'm a blunt New Yorker and you do make me quite aware of that fact.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 2:41PM
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LOTS of really good advice...

First.. To think about.... Some math...

You said you wanted to replace the native soil with more fertile soil...

Ok... Assume a 3' deep root zone (Which is shallow for Pome fruit...)

Per 1 acre - 4,840 Yards topsoil to be REMOVED and 4,840 yards of soil IMPORTED...

Figure $400/18 yard dumptruck for high quality topsoil... delivered and spread (Probably on the low end... and who has yards available?)

That's 269 trucks full of soil brought in = $108,000 worth of soil... PER ACRE.

Now.. Maybe another $100 for loading up and hauling off 269 trucks worth of Native soil.... $27,000

and you are up to $135,000 PER ACRE... Just in dirt...

x 6 acres = $810,000... Just in dirt... No trees, Amendments, or anything else!


    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 4:11PM
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Also if you are near Jonesboro check out some cranberry bogs.Is part of the land ok for that? it can be a sourse of top soil for other places.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 8:35PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Understand that I only have a back yard orchard. My experience with bringing anything in has not been good. You will never know what exactly you are bringing in as far as weeds and diseases. My belief is that it's best to amend what you have there and make it good soil.

This might seem to set you back time-wise but in the end you may avoid having to correct what was over-corrected originally. I agree with applenut; this would be the time to put as may cover crops in as you can in a season (or two).

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 12:53PM
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alan haigh

I don't worry much about soil prep and always install orchards on the first year or I'd be out of business. Get the pH right and most soils will grow trees if drainage is at least pretty good. A wheelbarrow (4 cu. ft) of forest compost as dressing (plant trees a hair shallow for this) followed with a wheel barrow of woodchips pretty much assures survival through drought and should be more than adequate to get so-so soil over the hump.

For a project as large as this one the main prep should be planning IMO.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 3:01PM
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I just want to grow as much fruit as possible. I live off the grid solar/wind power 5 miles from nearest paved road. Only 200 people in town. Goal is to provide for everyone. I want to make ciders, sauces and sell remainder of apples to local co-op and farmer markets.

We are also in the process of vermicomposting on a commercial scale. We have unlimited earth worm casting to apply to each hole. I was planning on amending each hole with at least 100lbs casting.

do i need to amend the whole orchard or just the holes im planting in? I think it would be cheaper to amend just the holes. just trying to get the most for my buck. I grow medical marijuana and i plan to put all profits back towards growing the farm so really i got the money to make it happen. i want it done right. tell me what i need to do to make a perfect orchard step by step and im on it... got the land. got it cleared. whats next?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 8:34PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Get a soil test from a good lab or university that will give you specific recommendations for each crop or similar crops you want to grow. Also recognize that fruit trees in general don't need the high powered expensive amendments you might use on some medicinal crops. Save your money for something else. Too much fertilizer will cause excess vigor leading to more disease issues and lesser eating quality of the fruit. Fruit isn't pot so recognize that they need a different growing system.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Tue, Apr 9, 13 at 21:10

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 8:58PM
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It’s amazing how similar my plans were to downeasta. I only have 5 cleared acres and was planning to fill the land with apple and pear trees, berry bushes and American Chestnuts. My church was going to use the fruit for church sales or for them to add the fruit to food baskets for the needy.

I had all the trees chosen and verified today that nursery had everything I needed. The soil tests went out over a week ago and were waiting eagerly for the results. Let me tell you, the people selling these trees are not nearly as forthcoming with honest information as I received here.

I have a ton of business experience but zero farming experience. I feel kind of dumb for expecting this to be similar to gardening. I clearly don’t have that kind of daylight time to put into to this endeavor. I need to rethink this. The last thing I want is neglected land, I hate that.

Thanks for everyone's comments!!!!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 9:59PM
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alan haigh

Many gardeners feel they have to create super conditions for plants to thrive and don't realize the power of the soil they have. I think it's a natural drive of proud gardeners to be hellicopter parents of their green babies.

I manage so many orchards so spread out that I've tried to learn how to do this on a bang for the buck basis so I don't have to charge my customers too much.

If you want to truly learn about the power of worm compost try it blended into the top few inches of soil for a few trees and let a few others manage with what's there (after adjusting pH equally and adding any other necessary mineral amendments to all trees).

Research indicates the only mineral your young trees are likely to respond to is nitrogen if there are no clear deficiencies in you soil. If worm casting help this will probably be the reason, in my opinion.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 6:13AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

" I grow medical marijuana"


Now you have my interest. Where do I get a prescription? Just kidding :-)

Seriously though, you'll get more response if you ask more specific questions than "tell me what I need to make a perfect orchard step by step".

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 3:07PM
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downeasta...if money is not a concern, why not hire someone to get things started off on the right foot (assuming you can find someone in your area)? If discussed upfront they would likely teach you as well if you worked with them.

Maybe Harvestman or someone esle here is planning a vacation to your area...or could be enticed into one. lol

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 3:46PM
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I really thank everyone for your kind responses. First plan of action is soil test. So if my soil come back to acidic do I need to amend the whole orchard or just the individual hole that the tree is going into?

I need to save as much money as possible but at the same time i want this orchard to thrive.

I was just going to bulldoze flat and layout for planting trees... I would save a lot of time and money if i were able to get away with just amending each hole rather then the full acre. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 9:49PM
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One time a forum member, Oregonwoodsmoke posted the following:
- " On the news and incidental to the story, someone stated that they had just finished installing a 70 tree fruit orchard on their church grounds.
I thought "What a great idea."

I don't know if the fruit is to donate to the hungry, or is intended to be a fund raiser for the church. Either way, it is a nice project and, of course, they have lots of volunteer labor.
I think it would be an excellent project for other types of non-profit groups, as long as they have access to a bit of land and some reliable workers."

Jellyman, a very respectable forum member (who has not posted here for a couple of years now) responded as follows:

" I hope the volunteer labor part of the deal holds up over the long term. A 70 tree orchard is real work, and it must be sustained over a period of many years.

I also hope there is a volunteer who is familiar with the insects and diseases common to the area, and willing to spray the trees on a regular schedule if necessary.

Praying will not control insects and diseases on fruit trees. I have tried it. "

It's a very funny but also very accurate statement.

Here is a link that might be useful: Church fruit orchard.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 10:07PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

If your soil is too acidic that is easily solved with the application of a few tons per acre of ag limestone. This won't be very expensive and better done on a broadcast basis with a large truck spreader. Disc that in and you might not need much else.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 10:15PM
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jagchaser(5A NE, -15-115f may frost)

I think the best thing to do is amend all the soil if it is needed. The roots wont stop with the hole you amend. If the soil really is that harsh without amendments then the roots could stop or severely slow down when they hit the dirt you did not fix. Lets say the roots do go out all the way but the soil is really poor. Will it do you much good to have a 2x2ft (4 square foot) hole with the proper ph/nutrients, when the tree roots are spread over 300-400 ft

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:03PM
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alan haigh

Amending a small part of the soil is generally not helpful. The soil must be good throughout the root zone and fertilization is always done at least to the extent of the canopy. Entire orchard floors are usually amended but when you are talking about mineral amendments the process is not overly expensive as Fruitnut notes. It should be based on a soil test from a reliable laboratory.

When amending planting holes is discussed in the literature it is usually about adding organic matter in individual holes which has been discredited by most research. Organic matter is much more affective as a top dressing or incorporated in the top few inches of soil (in problem soils) well beyond the planting holes where the roots need to grow.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 1:55AM
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Our OP keeps saying Acidic Acidic Acidic...

Over and over the research points out that PH by itself has barely any effect... Certainly not the effect people attribute to it.... Perhaps a smallish effect on availability of certain minor elements if it is MASSIVELY out of whack....

My own experience with HORRIBLE, depleted, acidic soil is that Acidic soil is an OUTCOME caused by years and years of poor practices and leaching... It's not generally a Cause for the conditions you see (Infertility, poor fruit set, poor growing low yields, etc..)..... As you work on getting your soil healthy again - the PH will naturally moderate itself...

Most of the time - what people are blaming on "Acidity" is really a problem with Calcium or Magnesium deficiencies... Application of Lime (Crushed limestone) tends to remedy it.. not because of the PH change, but because of the availability of Calcium....

So... The moral of this story is... Get a soil test.. Don't worry about the pH - worry about the Minerals... Ca, Mg, P, Fe, K, Zn, and minor elements.... pH will sort itself out with good practices...


    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 9:05AM
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alan haigh

John, I really don't see where you have derived your information. In commercial fruit production here pH tests are essential and lime is added periodically unless soil has its own limestone. pH changes the availability of a range of mineral nutrients and this is just basic soil science supported by vast research.

In the humid regions soil tends to be acidic and always pulling back that way by the rain requiring periodic lime applications (often dolomitic to take care of the mag.), dry regions run excessively base both in the soil and more problematically in the water. pH does not usually take care of itself although I suppose you mean that when you add lots of organic matter the problem is often resolved.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 9:40AM
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Let's see... Where do you want to start...

This research started in probably the early 1800's and went more or less up till the present.... The earliest one I stumbled upon was the Essay on Calcareous manures by Ruffin from 1832...

One of my favorites in general is Dr. William Albrecht (He was the guy who discovered CEC).... He was out of U of Mn I think - but did much of his research down south....

Anyway... A simple question on pH.... If the goal was really to simply raise pH.... Why not amend the soil with Sodium Hydroxide (Lye).... The action is *MUCH* faster and also far less is required.... Instead, we use ground up limestone - which takes forever to do the deed.... The simple answer is that *Only* changing the soil pH without changing anything else really has only a very minor effect on the plants...

Unfortunately, this seems to butt heads with the whole Rodale philosophy... which was the one that ultimately won with the "Organic" movement.... but the whole subject of "Remineralization of the soil" is gaining ground back quite quickly with the Pro-Ag community as they deal with the results of played out land...

Anyway, I have included a link to a collection of his magazine articles... They are easier reading than his formal journal published articles.... If you poke around Steve Soloman's Agricultural library site - there's a ton of good reading there...


Here is a link that might be useful: A collection of Albrecht's magazine articles

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 8:16AM
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alan haigh

Lime quickly raises the pH when incorporate if it is hydrated. However the entire soil need not change pH if roots penetrate some particles of changed soil. They don't need access to any nutrient throughout the soil as long as some of their roots have access. This is why spread granulated sulfur rapidly corrects iron deficiency when spread on the soils surface, as proven by Carl Whitcombs experiments with pin oaks in alkaline soil.

There are always outliers with exciting theories. Sometimes they're right but you don't know until there is thorough research done on the subject, and not just by the one with the theory.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 9:38AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I agree focusing only on pH is not sufficient, but I wouldn't be comfortable ignoring/not worrying about it.

Albrecht seems to be somewhat counter in his conclusions of most accepted soil science.

It's hard for me to imagine the land grant universities are in group think regarding pH. It would seem to me nutrient availability at different pH levels would be research that has been replicated many times. We've all seen the charts showing nutrient availability at differing pH levels. Following are a couple links from Universities regarding the relationship of pH and nutrient uptake.

Illinois University Fruit and Veg News Scroll down for "Managing Soil pH for Optimum Nutrient Availability"

K-State - Soil pH and Nutrient Availability

Again I agree that looking at the whole nutrient profile is very important, and perhaps you are right that a correction of a severely deficient mineral in a soil will generally bring the pH closer in line, but I thought it going a little too far to imply pH doesn't matter.

Lime is a good source of calcium and that may be part of the reason it's used so extensively to raise the pH of soil. I'm sure it's extremely low cost is another factor though.

In Kansas, limestone is everywhere, it just has to be pulverized to make lime. I've only owned my new farmground for a couple years and already have a pile of limestones I've picked up out of the field and piled next to a tree. You can have it if you haul it away :-)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 10:03AM
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alan haigh

The question that we are answering here is about growing apples in Main, where much of the soil is highly acidic peat (lowbush blueberries dominate)- Of course calcium will be needed if that is the type of soil, whatever the validity of Albrecht's research and theories.

And limestone is what's used to keep the pH optimum for apple production even if it isn't technically all about the pH itself. This seems a bit esoteric a discussion not really related to the needs of Downeasta.

John, if you have examples of commercial apple growers successfully growing apples in a soil pH below 5 by following Albrecht's principles I'd be very interested to read about it.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 2:11PM
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alan haigh


If anyone's interested in the current science of apple production, including pH this is a book by one of our countries current top academics on the subject.

Sorry that I've never learned how to make a link but if you copy that it will take you to the site.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 2:24PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)


Is this the link you were talking about?

Here is a link that might be useful: Apples: Botany, Production and Uses

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 3:08PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Harvestman: Just paste that URL into the box right below where you type your message. Add a label and you have a direct link.

It's a lot easier than posting pictures.

Here is a link that might be useful: direct link

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 3:50PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

" This seems a bit esoteric a discussion not really related to the needs of Downeasta."

I dunno I think the discussion of pH is relevant. Downeasta mentioned he wanted to grow more than apples and he specifically mentioned his concern about acidity. pH seems to affect nutrient uptake of the fruit crops mentioned, so I thought my response in concert with the thread.

Ultimately I think for Downeasta's project, a soil test and amending/fertilizing the site as recommended by lab analysis is what ought to be done for the most chance of success, so I suppose from that standpoint pH or any other analysis is somewhat gratuitous.

Any good lab will indicate which minerals are deficient and the amount of mineral to apply for correction, as well as how much lime to reduce acidity. So Downeasta, as many have mentioned, you probably want to get a soil test for your project.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 4:14PM
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alan haigh

Olpea, the discussion of pH in general is important, but Albrecht's theories are not really, as far as just trying to figure how to grow apples productively in Maine. The reason I say this is I'm pretty sure if he was alive he would recommend applying lime to get the pH up to 6.5, and it really doesn't matter if the reason it works is based on his ideas or those of someone else.

I did look briefly into his work and he was concerned about western growers not having adequate calcium in sodic soils. Have to read more to actually digest it but he does seem to be the darling of some permaculture fans.

As far as a complete soil test, of course that should be done in any commercial project- I wasn't discussing that and assumed if Northeaster got in touch with his landgrant university as I recommended they would suggest that as a first step. The link Milehigh provided has much of this advice.

BTW, if Albrecht discovered CEC, someone should edit wikopedea.

What's a URL? I'm guessing it's the site edress.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 5:39PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


It might help you to read some fruit production guides to get started. Many universities offer them. Here are a couple from Cornell, which is somewhat near your neck of the woods.

Cornell Tree Fruit

Cornell Berry Fruit


I see what you are saying now, and agree, from what I read of Albrecht, would have little practical relevance to apple growing in Maine.

Soil scientists Thomson and Way (1850) are earliest reference I've found codifying CEC.

Yeah URL is the address. You can copy and paste the URL/web address below, and then put any name you want on the line that says "Name of the Link" the link (It doesn't even have to be the actual name of the link).

For example, I googled you and found one of your customers mentioned you favorably on their website. You could copy that URL/address and paste it in the "Optional Link URL" below, then name it "Hman is a hero" if you wanted, and it will come out thus:

Here is a link that might be useful: Hman is a hero

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 9:09PM
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alan haigh

Thank you Olpea, for bringing a smile to my face as I begin my love-war dance with nature on another spring day. I just love-hate spring.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 5:48AM
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Also be sure to inoculate your trees with the proper mycorrhizal inoculant before planting. It will tremendously help you trees. Just google to see what products are available for the trees and bushes you want tp grow. Each type has different relationships. Or you can search locally for inoculant and grow your own. Then spray the roots just before planting.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden For Nutrition

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 9:42AM
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alan haigh

Green Garden please provide evidence with your advice if you can. Last I looked those products were deemed BS as most mychorizal relationships aren't very species specific and any landscape that already has trees has plenty of beneficial fungus in the mix.

Where innoculum has been affective is in sterile mediums, mining sites and prairies (different fungus work with grasses and broadleaf herbaceous.plants).

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 4:14PM
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I usually try not to post URL because the moderator scolds me when
I provide links because it has a tendency to stop the conversation.
But since you specifically asked I will post just one of the many:


Since the 8 acres has just been cleared and will sit empty for
the rest of this year, it is a reasonable bet that fungal levels
have already dropped due to the clearing and will continue to drop
over this year since there will be no tree roots.

Spruce and cedar do not seem likely hosts to share fungi with
apple, peach, pear, etc. Perhaps, but I have my doubts.
It is so cheap, if it prevents mortality in even 1% of the
transplants, it will be worth it.
After all, 8 acres is a big investment.

I have been reading the same studies you have and I tend to agree
most of the time that native fungi are adequate. But some of the more
recent research makes me doubt if it is as black and white as
once thought. There is evidence that cuts both ways, which
to me seems to indicate it may be a roll of the dice with many
complex factors affecting the outcome. Garden soil that has
been organically gardened for a long period with good crop
rotation probably does not need it, but new sites may benefit.

Another concern I have is that wild blueberry indicates a
consistent water supply. Extreme caution may be required because
most apple rootstocks do not like too much water.
Blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, Pecan, Pawpaw, chokeberry,
current, cranberry, etc. will probably do well.
But the others may not.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden For Nutrition

This post was edited by GreeneGarden on Sun, Apr 14, 13 at 8:46

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 12:16AM
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alan haigh

GG, your study appears to be in sterile soil so it doesn't seem to support your argument, if I'm reading it right. I searched around and found some research about reforestation in clean cut forests that may support what you suggest. Reforestation has sometimes required inoculation of soils left clear cut for unspecified period of time. Wish I knew how much time.

In any case, a little soil from nearby woods sprinkled at the base of planted trees should work at least as well as any packaged product, as I understand it. That this might be useful so soon after clearing out forest still seems unlikely to me, but it is an interesting question.

I take a strong stand against the constant marketing of products serving no real purpose. They are a source of environmental degradation just in their manufacture and transport and the impact of their packaging materials if not the materials themselves.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 7:06AM
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HM, I agree with you, which is why I originally suggested gathering local inoculum. But that does require some expertise and access to local orchards of apple, peach, and pear. These may not be available. Purchased inoculum seems worth while simply because planting 8 acres is a big investment.

Downeasta - I still think the environment may be too moist and acidic for apple, peach, pear. Look around for other orchards and see how hard they must work to grow these. A heavy spray program may not be what you want. You might find some varieties that do well in your area, but be careful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden For Nutrition

This post was edited by GreeneGarden on Sun, Apr 14, 13 at 9:46

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 9:10AM
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alan haigh

I'm not sure you'd want to use orchard soil as I believe there are problems with pathogens specific to fruit trees that build up in an orchard soil over time. I've established many orchards in forest soil and they tend to do far better than replanting them in an old orchard. Of course, replant problems are well known in old orchards but I don't know if those problems would be transported in the soil.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 7:19PM
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Can anyone recommend a horticulturist that specifically deals with orchards? I need someone who is willing to come out to my property and help me lay it all out. I will compensate you for your time. I just contacted a few orchards in the area but they are real small time. I need some big dogs with monster apple trees to show me how to grow them properly. There has to be someone in Maine on these forums that wants to come lend me a hand. My land is in Whiting, Maine. 15 miles from the Canadian border on the coast.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 7:26PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I think your idea has merit for site selection and many other issues. You want to be careful though about which horticulturalist you hire. There are many horticulturalists who really don't specialize in fruit, but would nevertheless take your money to give you advice. You may think you're receiving great advice, but they are really just repeating info. they've read out of a book.

Cornell and Rutgers, and possibly Penn State are the real "powerhouse" universities for fruit growing in the northeast. If you could get a fruit extension specialist from one of these universities, that would probably do you the most good. Make sure the person is a "fruit specialist" not just some extension personnel.

I know this is going to sound a bit indecorous to recommend hiring a fellow GardenWeb member, but you might consider hiring Harvestman for the site evaluation you want. He lives in NY and establishes orchards for a living. He's well read with lots of experience. I first started dialoging with him in 07 or 08 on another fruit forum, and while we don't always agree on every minor minutia of fruit growing, I've always found his advice and knowledge to be very very solid.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 10:43PM
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Hey...that was what I suggested a while ago. I think that makes the most sense, in my very inexpert opinion. If you could get someone on your land with you, I think that would be invaluable insight. Finding someone may be tough though given the location. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 10:51PM
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alan haigh

Thank you both Olpea and queensk., but N. Maine is a long way to go in spring (I think about a 12 hour drive each way) when I'm always having to turn down work right here in NY. The time I spend on this forum is therapy for me (which is insane in itself) but it doesn't mean I'm not going crazy trying to take care of my business right now.

I agree that an all-purpose landscaper will probably not be very helpful for this purpose, but I'm guessing that there is enough commercial apple production in Maine to get some help from cooperative extension.

In NY, Cornell now has a service you can pay for (used to be paid for by the tax payers) where a horticulturist comes to your site to evaluate it and then they use their resources to guide you. If it was a commercial orchard you were planning you'd get the help of a fruit specialist who'd come to the site.

NE, have you tried your county cooperative extension? For all I know they may have a deal with NY in terms of providing information if Maine is not equipped to provide it. At least you would get truly objective input from them. You go to the trades and you're more likely to be rolled for your money than helped, as Olpea suggests.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 5:27AM
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I am not realy in downeast maine but Ellsworth is the gateway.You probably stop here on the way to Bangor to shop. If you come down the airline it's a bit out of the way. Behind LL beans is Ellsworth feed and seed ask there for Steve (they will know where he is) . I think he is retired but might be talked into a walk arround. Note wear old jeans and work boots He might not cotton to city folk. LOL

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 7:23AM
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I currently live in Blue Hill and drive thru Ellsworth everyday on my way downeast.

HARVESTMAN -- I would love to have you come evaluate my site... I know its far but im sure i can make it worth your while! IN the mean time i will check see if steve can give a hand. Other then that im dead out of options none of the local apple orchards have returned my calls :(

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 9:36PM
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I don't know your climate or area but I have a couple of thoughts:

If blueberries are native to the area you may want to consider them as a potential cash crop. The payback period is a lot shorter and they are a lot easier to grow than Apples

Caneberries have a shorter payback period and are a lot easier to grow than Apples. Not sure how well they would do in your area but they go into production in just a few years

High Density apples cost a lot more to get established but the payback period is a lot shorter than semi dwarf or standard size apples. My experience with commercial apples so far had been very stimulating but I'm learning they require a huge amount of focus, attention and expense. The potential yield of HD apples in my area may be 1000 bu/acre which is a lot of money at 1$ a pound retail, but I'm finding commercial apple production to be a lot more difficult than I expected.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 9:19AM
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Downeasta, Been there done that! I use the "Vertical Access" for growing, that is growing with a couple of wires between a couple of poles for stability. I have made all the mistakes!!!! I also have all my trees on B-9 rootstock. B-9 has a pretty shallow root system. Just had my first year of fruit (Very Good)! I planted three ft. on center, and I believe that in Pa. (Adams Co.) they are planting closer then that. I also have a drip watering system, which is almost a must! I only have 250 trees at the present time. Anyhow, good luck with your adventure!! Gala Gala

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 4:41AM
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100 trees is a good starting point, but I have not seen any discussion about rootstocks, cultural practice or the budget designed to hit your goals.. Each of these points merit careful consideration. The current "state of the art" in apple production seems to be some form of tall spindle with trees 3 or 4 feet apart in rows 12 or 13 feet apart. With a tree density of over 800 trees per acre, plan on spending around $15K per acre for this type of orchard not including the fence! Trees cost around $10 each and you have place the order at least one year or perhaps two years ahead to get what you want. Some nursery will custom bud any variety you choose it they do not have it in their catalog. The most useful information I have seen is in YouTube or other video from Umass or Cornell. Also, T Robinson (Cornell) has produced a lot of research explaining and advocating tall spindle systems. Last year I saw a new 100 acre planting of dwarf trees in Virginia which must have cost over a million dollars It was a very impressive site. The smart money in the orchard business from all over the country seems to be on board with tall spindle system

Don't forget the berries and brambles. They fit perfect with your plan and cost a lot less to get started than tree fruit

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 1:36PM
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