production from a 6-7 acre orchard

civ_IV_fanOctober 12, 2012

I'm kicking around the idea of starting a small orchard that produces hard cider and apple wine from apples produced on site. there would be a tasting room and very small-scale distribution.

from everything i've read i can expect, at most, 500 bushels per acre, which could me as much as 3500 bushels from the orchard. the cider press, it seems, could net about 7000 from this. ultimately, it wouldn't translate to much money.

i would love to go for more acreage, but part of the business plan is being close to the city for foot traffic to the tasting room.

do my numbers from the paragraph above sound right? is it realistic to expect 3500 bushels from 7 acres?

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I don't have any personal experience with that kind of volume, but it would seem that your production is going to be, to a large extent, dependent upon the density of your planting.

If you haven't already done so, you should check out Michael Phillips' "The Apple Grower". He covers a lot of different types of density plantings.

There is also a magazine geared for the commercial grower called "American Fruit Grower" that is always covering new planting styles focused on production, that you might want to check out before making a decision.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 8:44AM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Not a money maker for sure, when you count all the labor, spray's, pruning, etc. ..still a hobby I would think, too much of a investment for the return. You're like a farmer,.. don't count your labor.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 10:09PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Another thing to keep in mind, is even if you plant next spring, you are talking 5 years? before production if not longer...Max yields could take 10 years. Throw in frost, freezes, bugs, disease, deer, squirrels, severe weather... I wouldn't expect to make money for a long time. If you've got money to burn, don't would awesome. I'd probably throw a little variety in there with some pears, maybe some plums...

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 11:54PM
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alan haigh

Numbers on paper are virtually meaningless. What is the site like (are there nearby successful orchards?), what is your level of expertise (which mostly comes from experience) how much time do you have to make good on your investment in case of crop failure?

What is your experience in agriculture up to this point because if you don't already have a lot of hands on experience in the soil including working long, long days maybe you should start with one acre at most. Have you made a palatable cider?

These are not really good questions to bring to this forum as we are not a professional fruit growing group as a whole and the twist of you doing it to make cider and run a tasting room makes it even harder for fruit growers to provide useful info. I would start with your local land grant university and get a lot of help on the business end even before considering the actual apple growing part of it.

I think you could get more practical help by consulting with people doing the same thing with grapes. There is a lot of experience out there doing exactly what your suggesting, but with vines.

You can also contract with apple growers (preferably ones using dwarfing rootstocks) to produce the apples you need with much less out front investment.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 6:43AM
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I can't help you with numbers. Maybe you could contact your local Ag Dept and speak to your agent.. They will have numbers for you or will be able to find them for you.. They may also have names of varieties that do well in your area..

I only have ten apple trees, they are Southern Antique var. and it takes a lot of time pruning each tree. I don't spray (because I have honeybees)so my apples are not really pretty but they make great tasting apples for pies, jellies, butter. They have been in the ground 14yrs and this yr was my best yeild yet.

Good luck with your venture.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 10:20PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

Figures for crop yield will be worthless. Those figures are for commercial varieties and you will be growing cider apples.

If you have all the equipment to make cider, you do not limit yourself to apples you can grow yourself. You press your own apples, plus you get neighbors to grow crops of cider apples for you and you buy theirs.

Be selective about what you plant. You will want blends of different apples to make the best cider.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 8:00PM
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thanks everybody. sorry i haven't checked in for a bit.

the more i think about it, the more i realize the numbers aren't going to make the actual fruit production profitable, at all. oregonwoodsmoke hit the nail on the head -- if i'm going to have a cider operation on relatively small acreage, i'm better off focusing on that...i could maintain an orchard myself, but it doesn't seem practical to have it as my main production orchard.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 8:05AM
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You should talk to Vintage Virginia Apples south of Charlottesville. They have exactly the orchard and hard cider tasting room you are talking about, not to mention an awesome fall festival, online tree sales, and farmer's market. The Shelton family that owns it is super nice.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vintage Virginia Apples

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 8:13PM
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