Sample orchard surveys
Below are two examples of surveys I have carried out recently. The first survey was done in Cheshire at a site of an existing orchard.
The second survey was undertaken at a site where the client wanted to plant up a new orchard.
Compiled by Tom Adams
At the request of name I visited the orchard at The Farm, on 25-04-09.
The orchard consists of three areas;
Area 1. A small orchard in the farm house garden (picture1)
Area 2. A small orchard in the picnic area.
Area 3. The main orchard to the south west of the farm yard.
The purpose of the visit was to advise Mr name on the potential for developing the orchard and maintaining the existing trees. The Farm is under a HLFS and in order to qualify for grant aid a management plan needs to be produced for DEFRA.
Area 1. In the grounds of the farmhouse is a large mature apple tree (picture 1) which I understand from the owner is the variety Newton Wonder.
Across the access driveway is a solitary mature pear
Area 2. This orchard consists of a picnic area and four newly planted trees, Bee Bench, Lord Combermere, The Lemon Apple and Wareham Russet
Area 3. The main orchard consists of a mixture of mainly pears with one apple tree and two plums.
The trees are as follows –
Pear 1 – in flower, half of trunk missing. Diameter at breast height (DBH) 4’7”
Pear 2 – 60% death of crown, some flower. DBH 6’9”
Pear 3 – in flower, small amount of dieback. DBH
Pear 4 – in flower, 60% of trunk missing, a large split down the trunk and 30% of bark missing. DBH 4’4”
Pear 5 – in flower, reasonable condition, some of the top is missing. DBH 5’9”
Pear 6 – in flower, very tall (possibly 70 foot), good condition. DBH 7’2”
Pear 7 – in flower, half of original crown missing. DBH 5’4”
Apple 1 – in flower, half of original crown missing. DBH 5’4”
Plum 1 – reasonable condition. DBH 2’5”
Plum 2 – reasonable condition, dual stemmed.
The south facing site is enclosed to the north by a recently constructed breeze block barn. On the southwestern side is a hawthorn hedge . The eastern boundary is delineated by a trackway and a hawthorn hedge. The site is essentially triangular in shape with the narrow end further from the farmyard.
The ground flora of the site is grass and broadleaved weed species. There has been some recent oversowing of relandscaped area.
The apple tree is in relatively good health and would benefit from some sensitive pruning to reduce the number of branches within the crown to allow better air circulation and light penetration.
The pear tree across the drive is healthy but would benefit from the removal of the building material stacked near the base. This would improve the ease of fruit picking.
The growth from the base of the tree is from the rootstock and needs removing so the tree can concentrate it’s energy where it needs it.
The newly planted trees are protected from the sheep by netlon guards. They would benefit greatly by being mulched around their base to reduce the competition for water and nutrients, and from staking and tying in order to ensure they grow upright.
These trees will need checking on a regular basis to ensure their continued development and protection.
The trees in this orchard I would estimate to be around 120 years old.
The apple trees that would have originally been present have died out due to their relatively short lifespan.
It is my professional opinion that the pears were originally propagated on the rootstock seedling pear. This would be bourn out by their general size and longevity. The healthiest have the potential to live for another 100 years provided that the site conditions are maintained in their present state.
The pears show evidence of having been pruned approximately 50 years ago as a measure of crown reduction but since then have had no regular maintenance.
The pears showing extensive trunk decay would be best left alone to continue to decline. They show evidence of woodworm activity and as such represent a valuable ecological habitat for saproxylic insects and insectivorous birds.
The single apple tree would benefit from the removal of damaged wood.
The two plum trees are reasonably sound and do not require any work.
The planting distances of the present trees would indicate an original scheme of trees planted at approximately 20 foot centres. Any new planting should be positioned with similar spacing. This would maintain the ethos of the original scheme.
The ground could be cleared of building debris and rubble to reduce the risk to livestock and humans, particularly visitors.
I would recommend –
1. Carrying out the suggestions made in the conclusion and generally leaving the trees to continue to develop or decline according to their condition.
2. Planting a range or varieties of apples and plums to extend the variety of fruit available and extend the cropping season. All varieties to be on vigorous rootstocks and grown as traditional standards.
Compiled by Tom Adams on 05-05-09
At the request of name I visited his land at address, on 05-05-09 to assess a one quarter piece of land for a potential orchard site.
The one quarter acre plot is situated at the eastern end of the property, adjoining a recently planted (12 years) mixed broadleaved woodland to the east and to the south.
The site has an open aspect to the west. The northern boundary is delineated by a mature hawthorn hedge with many standard ash and sycamore trees.
The site, which has been a field as long as name can remember, is mown on a monthly basis by a contractor.
The ground vegetation is predominantly grass and creeping buttercup, with a few patches of dock and nettle.
This suggests plenty of moisture and fertile soil.
A soil profile pit was dug to a depth of 3 feet, to where the water table was found (pictured).
The first 12” is top soil, with about 10”below that being a sandy clay subsoil , followed by 10” of course sand with a small layer of clay below that.
The soil was found to have an excellent texture and structure, Bring a free draining rich sandy/clay loam. The water table, at 3 feet (after a very wet spell), is low enough for fruit trees to thrive.
The texture will facilitate easy drainage and root penetration.
This area is not a frost pocket and is also relatively sheltered from the wind.
Overall I would say this is an excellent site to plant an orchard.
I would recommend planting up the site with a mixture of hardy top fruit on semi vigorous rootstock (MM106 for apples, quince A for pears, St Julien A for plums) with a spacing of 15-20 foot between trees. This will allow space for the trees to mature fully and allow access for mowing the sward.
With this spacing there is room for up to 18 trees.
Trees should be bought bare rooted, ideally as one year old maidens.
Planting should be carried out on a cool still day. The roots of the trees are fibrous and will dry out very quickly in the wind. Keep them moist in a plastic bag right up until the second before planting.
A hole should be dug with a spade just big enough to take the roots without having to bend them to fit.
Knock a tree stake into the hole, then place the tree in position in the hole, planting it the same depth as it was in the nursery. (There should be a clear soil mark).
The only soil to go into the planting hole is the soil that was dug out.
Compost and manure are fine as a mulch on top of the soil but are too rich for young roots to cope with in the planting hole.
Whatever you mulch with make sure it is thick enough to suppress any growth around the base of the tree to a diameter of 1 meter and that it isn’t piled up against the stem of the tree.
Once the tree is planted it will need protecting from rabbits.
There is no plan for stock to be in the field so fencing isn’t required.
I would suggest you make a plan of the orchard to keep for your records.
Trees can be obtained mail order from:
Frank Matthews, Berrington Court, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, WR15 8TH
Tel – 01584 810214 www.frankpmatthews.com
I would recommend you choose a range of varieties to give you a plentiful supply of fruit throughout the season.
In order to process the fruit, I would recommend looking on of the fruit dehydrators that can be found at www.keimling.co.uk.
For juicing, Vigo make a good press and accessories. www.vigoltd.com
Posted by Tom Adams on 19th May 2009, under Sample orchard surveys