How's this for a plan for my first mini orchard?


New Member
These will be planted in the spring of 2017 in Zone 4 on loamy soil. I want apples from Aug-Feb if possible and hoping the varieties below will do the trick. Main focus is for wildlife but you can bet I will be eating my fair share of these as well - so I will be spraying for the long haul. I already bought the conduit to tie the tree off to as it grows. I also have the window screen, cemenet remesh, tree markers, Aglock, white latex paint all bought and ready to go this spring. Below are the list of apples and a couple of pears I would like to try as well. I currently show 61 trees but will widdle it down to 50 in the end - hoping with some feedback from you I can adjust the Qty's up/down/remove from the order.

apple list.PNG

These all sound like winners for my zone? (I know I will probably catch flack for having the Zestar in there on G30 rootstock but that's all Cummins has and I love how that apple tastes so want to get some growing.

Below is what the field looks like currently. It is a 2 acre field - I figure I will consume 1/2 an acre with these trees. Is it a bad/dumb idea to create row food plots between the tree plantings? I realize once the trees get bigger, I won't be able to plow/disc without ripping up tree roots. Any reccomendations for food source between the trees? The other 1.5 acres of field will be corn/beans on a rotating basis for another 5 years or so and then hoping to just do food plot mixes.


Any preference on how I should lay the rows out in this field? The image is pointing true North fyi. Do I run the rows NE-SW? My spacing is going to be 18-20 feet in rows and 25 ft between rows.

Any other sound advice you experts can give me would be appreciated before I start this endeveor.
I am not familiar with a few of the varieties that you have listed, but most look like good choices. Goldrush may not prove to be that successful in your Northern zone, but I could be wrong. Plant trees where the forest doesn't shade them out. Your supply list looks excellent. I personally don't like having any crops around my trees, as cultivating and chemical spraying will almost certainly lead to problems at some point. Clover may be the exception, but you have to be VERY CAREFUL when spraying insecticides on fruit trees that you don't accidentally kill bees pollinating clover flowers. Keep a large weed mat or layer of mulch well out around the tree, so that this is less of a problem.
Appreciate the feedback. I was going to forgo the mulch so I don't invite the critters in to nest near my trees. I will keep the bases weed free though.

Goldrush - that is my worry as well that it won't ripen in my zone but I have heard of others planting them in Zone 4b and are doing ok. I just want them as a late hanger for the deer to feed on in the snowy months is why I want that variety. I might trim that qty down to 3 as well before placing the order - unless others here in my zone are successful with Goldrush. I am in West Central WI if that helps.

Great point with planting the food plots in between my rows and worrying about chemicals.
Prepare for fire blight and try to use resistant trees for FB and CAR.Also make sure your spacing is far enough apart.I am going to move some trees this winter because I put too close together.I am going to plant some mixes in my new orchard that i can either broadcast on top or lightly work soil and mow to control weeds of you could plant winter wheat and not have to use chemicals
I planted my orchard on 20 foot spacing and really wish I would have done 30 or more. Reason is I have clover growing between the rows and mowing it is a royal PITA! With 60ish trees you are going to use more than a 1/2 acre too I think (no math just based on my orchard).
Appreciate the feedback. I was going to forgo the mulch so I don't invite the critters in to nest near my trees. I will keep the bases weed free though..

I wouldn't forgo the mulch, just use pea gravel for mulch. also as Turkey Creek mentioned, factor in the same amount of money for protection as you spend on the tree.
Only comment I will make is that I would rather have a more limited selection of trees that are easier to care for and disease resistant than to have a wider variety but trees that are more difficult to work with. That's just me. 50 trees can be a fair amount of work. Pruning and spraying and the like take time and other resources. Last thing I need is to have to baby a tree to get fruit. I want something that will produce with as little as input from me as possible. Once I have that under my belt then I can always expand as I see fit or graft other varieties to existing trees.

For example:
10 - crab apples
10 - pears
10 - Enterprise
10 - Liberty
10 - honeycrisp

I have very limited history with fruit trees, so maybe my opinion doesn't mean much. I just know that even a few trees can pose issues and require time that you may or may not have to get decent results. I also like having spacing to be able to use the ground for perennial cool season plot as well - some hate the idea. I'm just trying to get the most out of the acrage being used.
I think you are right from what I have found growing my fruit trees.I really don't know if it's worth it from a wildlife stand point.But I like to see them produce and eat a few hear and there.pears are the easiest but nothing like seeing a tree covered in red apples.Nut trees are alot easier.
I can tell you that a couple of folks on this forum have had nightmares with Wolf River and fireblight. You probably won't be happy with Gold Rush in an area where CAR is rampant - I'm not happy with mine. There are some other varieties in your list that I would research a little more before planting. Lots of information available out there at various places on disease resistance..................... When I looked at Zestar on the Purdue website, I was afraid to plant it. You may not be in a bad place for apple diseases, but where I am located, you had better go with the absolute best varieties.

Good luck............................
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As mentioned I already have the protectant materials bought and stored for these trees. So that isn't a concern for me. My concern now is what 50 trees to plant and spacing.

I have access to a 10" PTO auger I will use for planting. Each Remesh circle will have 15' of material for just under 5' diameter and 5' tall. Oh and if it is Joe than a half acre that's fine as well.

I had no idea wolf river had issues with FB. I wasn't too excited about those in the first place and I will delete from my order. The more I read the more I wonder if I shouldn't delete the honey crisp as well. They are tough to grow apparently.

I really don't know if CAR is a big concern for me where I am at. It is bottom land hardwoods where I am. No cedar trees around me.
There are many varieties of apples that are marginal but acceptable in disease resistance (considering no spraying) when grown on their own roots. But, when grown on dwarfing and semi dwarfing rootstocks become unacceptable in DR (with no spraying).

I had a thread on the old forum about this and backed up everything I said with unbiased scientific research from the olden days. At the current time, new unbiased scientific research for some subjects concerning apples and rootstocks is non-existent. Money drives partial truth.

I just looked back at your original post and noticed that you said you would be spraying. In that case, the concerns for disease resistance becomes less than for someone like me who refuses to spray. You should be able to grow about any varieties you want with a good measure of success.

I'm not against spraying, but I know how life can take turns we don't expect and our best laid plans get changed. I am more inclined to cultivars that will make it with or without my assistance. And of course, when the BIG ONE finally hits, there won't be an Internet or store nearby to buy any spray - unless Al Gore can invent the Internet again.:D

Once again, best wishes.............
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I like J-Birds idea of keep it simple. Maybe just Liberty and Enterpise to cover you early fall and goldrush for later drop. Youll need atleast 1 crab (I see you have Wickson on your list - Id like to try) cant go wrong with chestnut crab.
For pears Id think about kieffer (no brainer) and maybe Olympic (late drop Asian).
Do you have a lot of hard mast already? Why not throw some chinese chestnuts in the mix? Just sayin...
Good luck, its gonna be a fun project and were all looking forward to following your progress :)
I will be planting 100 SWO in another location just below the apple trees and they will be tubed to protect them. Hoping they produce acorns within 10 years. There are also a few white oaks mixed in the woods already but I want more acorns so hence the SWO going in.

I am all for the crab apples! I have 13 on order out of 50 total trees. I've heard great things with chestnut, dolgo, and wickson.

I look forward to posting progress and learning more along the way as well. Can't wait to get these fruit trees in the ground.
Man, that's ALOT of trees to plant! I planted 12 by myself, including fencing, and it took me about 6 hours to get it done and I was busting my butt!

Regarding the types, looks like you have some good ones, although I am not super familiar with some of them.
Oh, I will have some family members helping me on planting day - hoping there will be 4 of us at least to get it done in a day. I will have all materials ready and the fencing/window screens pre-cut. I have access to a 10" PTO Auger to dig the holes. I'll have 500 gallons of water sitting on a trailer ready to water in my trees. It really shouldn't be all that bad to complete in my mind as long as the manpower shows up as the sun is rising!
That's a good list. My opinion, and as stated by a few posters. The trees you have one each, I would forget about that and just get more Enterprise and Liberty. The rest of the list is good for wildlife. If you're just planting these for wildlife though I don't think you would need 50 all in one spot. That's a lot in one place but, makes it easier to maintain them. Personally I would put 10 in 5 different places but, you know your situation and I like that you have a good plan and are prepared to do them right. I wouldn't worry about planting. I planted 30 all by myself over a couple days. Really no big deal if you've got things done ahead. I would also go with 30 foot spacing if possible.
Overall looks like a good plan. One piece of advice I was given several years ago (Stu et. al), was use Soil Moist or similar polymer when planting. My survival rate has been very close to 100% on fruit trees with probably 300 planted. You won't have any trouble planting and protecting that many trees once you get a routine going. It WILL get monotonous and turn into a grind. The results will be worth it in a few years. One other thing I do is staple down a 6'x6' piece of lumite around each tree. Takes an extra 3 or 4 minutes and I haven't had to spray around the trees yet (3-6 years). I'm sure that has also helped tree survival significantly. My farm is in MI and I live in FL, so watering is out of the question!
I only want to do singles of pear trees, because quite frankly I am not a fan (but some of my family would like to eat them) and not sure how well they will grow. This spot is easy access to go into and spray/pick apples without disturbing the rest of the property. Also, it is the higher elevation where as the rest of the open land is down below and too wet with frost pockets if I were to try and plant them elsewhere. I might stretch the spacing out to 25 ft - going to stake/measure it all out next spring prior to planting to see what I can afford to space them at.

I might have to give the lumite a try for weed control. I was just going to spray around them each year as I intend to spray the trees themselves with a spray program as well. I will be able to water as needed as well.

Any other advice/tips you fine folks want to share with me?