Orchard Life: Planting Trees Pt. 1 (a 4 part series)

Posted by Jeff Pauls on 28th May 2018

Orchard Life: Planting Trees Pt. 1 (a 4 part series)

Part 1: When, Where, & What to Plant

“Planting is really one of my favorite times of the year. There’s just, I don’t know, something exciting about birth, and that’s kinda the equivalent here in the orchard. You put a tree in the ground and it’s dormant and it looks dead. After a bit it starts coming to life. Those little things take a decent amount of care the first couple of years, but it’s just fun watching them grow.” Clair Kauffman Orchard Manager | Kauffman’s Fruit Farm & Market, Inc.

Given the importance of this subject to our business, it seemed like a good idea to talk to Clair about our replanting program. Over the course of this 4-Part Series, he will fill us in on all the details that must be considered when planting in the orchard.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect:

  1. When, Where, & What to Plant: In part one we will get a bird’s eye view of the process. The weather decides when it happens. Our planting cycle determines which orchards need new trees and what kind.
  2. Deciding What to Plant: In part two we delve into the reasons for what was planted, the driving factors and considerations.
  3. The Planting Process - Tree Health and Yield: In part three we will discover some of the significant factors of the planting process. Considerations of what’s best for the trees figures prominently in the techniques being used.
  4. The Planting Process - Soil Health: In our fourth, and final installment of the series, we take a look at the practices that promote the health and conservation of the soil.

When, Where, & What to Plant

Every year, Kauffman’s Fruit Farm plants fruit trees. Yearly planting is an essential component of a sound orchard management plan. A lot of planning goes into planting. Some things, like where to plant involve decisions that are somewhat predetermined. As blocks near the end of their usefulness they are monitored to decide if they’ll need to be replaced soon. The replant program is based on a 20 year cycle. This cycle serves as the main driver for the replant program, enabling a baseline from which to assess where and what to plant next. And, of course, planting is a yearly event. While early spring is ideal, the weather gets the final say in making this decision.

Q: When did you plant this year?

We planted last week (April 8-14), toward the end of the week. We typically like to plant a little bit earlier than that if we at all can. This is not necessarily late either, but the sooner we can get the tree in the ground the less stress it has until it gets established. It has more time to establish before it gets hot and dry. We like to plant as soon as the ground can be worked. This year was more challenging because of the cold and the wet. The ground thawed a little bit later than usual because of some cold there in March. We had some freeze/thaw so it was often too wet to work the ground or frozen, but yeah, we got it done. We do have a handful of trees to hand plant this year, like replacements that we go around and fit in some holes in the orchard where things didn't turn out. We usually plant a few trees by hand each year.

[What challenges?]I guess I already mentioned one, the fact that we started planting a little later than we like to, due to the rain and the late freezes there in March—the cool temperatures. Another challenge that’s true just about every year is knowing when to order the trees in, because of having to have a window in which conditions are optimal for planting, that is, dry weather and optimal soil moisture levels. We were able to get to planting within a week of having received the trees—so that was good. The trees come as bare root trees, so we have to keep them wet and protected before they get in the ground.

Q: Where did you plant this year?

We planted in three locations: one along Orchard Road, and two locations fairly close to the homestead farm buildings—what we used to call the windmill block and a block south of our main drive here on the farm; corresponding with maps [below] of course.

Q: What did you plant this year?

We planted peaches and apples.

  • Apples: We planted Goldrush, Nittany, Fuji, Golds (Golden Delicious), EverCrisp®, Arkansas Black, Yellow Transparent, Macintosh and Jonathan.
  • Peaches, we planted John Boy®, White Lady, Sunhigh, Flamin’ Fury 17® and I guess that’s it. So yeah those were the varieties we planted this year.

Be on the lookout for these delicious varieties! Without the planting of fruit trees, there would be no Kauffman’s. The fact that a business can be built around such a unique and vital food, is pretty exciting. Thanks for coming along on this journey! We’re so glad for the support of our community and all of our customers throughout the years.

Next in the series: Deciding What to Plant - In part two we’ll delve into the reasons for what was planted-- the driving factors and considerations.