Converting pasture to orchard: advice for newbie

Elemental

Member
Horticulture
I live in an area primarily concerned with livestock farming, however I'm keen to convert a 4 acre patch of pasture into orchard. Can someone give me a rough idea of the tasks I need to organise and roughly the time of year to do them? I'm planning on planting the trees on berms (raised ridges) as my soil is clay and the drainage poor - any advice would be much appreciated
 

Kidds

Member
Horticulture
Loads online, especially USA stuff which is very relevant.
Poor draining clay soil is a very bad starting point berms or not. I would go along the lines of using MM106 rootstocks to try to compensate rather than anything smaller..
Order your trees a year in advance, spray off with glyphosate, correct the pH, plant 18x12' with pollinators 1 in 5 in spring when the ground is dry enough.

Very basics but online stuff including Youtube has a wealth of info.
 

Elemental

Member
Horticulture
Loads online, especially USA stuff which is very relevant.
Poor draining clay soil is a very bad starting point berms or not. I would go along the lines of using MM106 rootstocks to try to compensate rather than anything smaller..
Order your trees a year in advance, spray off with glyphosate, correct the pH, plant 18x12' with pollinators 1 in 5 in spring when the ground is dry enough.

Very basics but online stuff including Youtube has a wealth of info.
Thanks Kidd's, do I need to flat lift and rotavate the ground? Which bit of kit would be used to form the berms? Apologies for the simple questions?
 

Kidds

Member
Horticulture
Personally if the ground is so bad you need to plant on berms I would not plant apples there, but if your mind is made up.......
Find the existing drains and make sure they are as good as they can be, rod them and clear any ditch outlets.
Plough the ground after glyphosate and plant a crop of mustard. Just before it flowers flail it off and plough it in, repeat. This is to get as much organic matter in the ground as you can, do not forget the lime!
Do not try to work the ground when wet which is likely to be from September to April.
A power harrow and/or a potato bed former are likely to be the best weapons for the hilling.
The above assumes you are in the UK. Rotavators don't improve clay ground and I am not sure exactly what a flat lift is but suspect the same applies.
 

Elemental

Member
Horticulture
Personally if the ground is so bad you need to plant on berms I would not plant apples there, but if your mind is made up.......
Find the existing drains and make sure they are as good as they can be, rod them and clear any ditch outlets.
Plough the ground after glyphosate and plant a crop of mustard. Just before it flowers flail it off and plough it in, repeat. This is to get as much organic matter in the ground as you can, do not forget the lime!
Do not try to work the ground when wet which is likely to be from September to April.
A power harrow and/or a potato bed former are likely to be the best weapons for the hilling.
The above assumes you are in the UK. Rotavators don't improve clay ground and I am not sure exactly what a flat lift is but suspect the same applies.
Thanks, I found a map from the 1880's which show an orchard (cider apples I expect) in the same field so I'm hoping that with a bit of work I can get the ground back up to standard. I've got plenty of experience working with hydroponic strawberries but realise I have no clue with working on the soil
 

Kidds

Member
Horticulture
This is the video I have been most impressed by. It is USA but can be adapted for UK. Have used rye in UK for bulk OM and have used hot mustards for the soil sterilising + bulk OM with excellent results. Look into it.

 

Bogweevil

Member
I live in an area primarily concerned with livestock farming, however I'm keen to convert a 4 acre patch of pasture into orchard. Can someone give me a rough idea of the tasks I need to organise and roughly the time of year to do them? I'm planning on planting the trees on berms (raised ridges) as my soil is clay and the drainage poor - any advice would be much appreciated
Get soil tested and correct pH and nutrients incorporating with pre-planting cultivation - very hard to do this after trees planted. Trees are expensive, pity if they don't give their best.

Decide size of trees - big ones hard to pick, small ones need more to establish and might need staking all their lives and require irrigation. Clay soils can be very fertile so trees tend to the larger size.

Decide on crop - cider, perry, plums, cherries etc. Remember to have right mix of pollinator trees that flower at right time.

Planting on ridges or berms can be very effective on clay soils. Fruit does not appreciate wet feet.

Cultivate as required, just do planting strips if planting big trees. Incorporating organic matter, fym say advantageous.

Ideally plant in winter, but the remember that trees will probably need summer irrigation for first two years. If soil too sticky in winter October or April it might have to be. Bare root trees best but only offered in winter.

Keep trees free of weed competition - v important, mulch if growing organic.

Good luck!
 

Fruitbat

Member
Trade
Location
Worcestershire
Don't discount M116, I've had cider on it on [email protected] clay ok. have a look at Frank Matthews: https://www.frankpmatthews.com/news-and-advice/information-sub-1/fruitrootstocks
But work out what you want to grow and what you're going to do with it, cider is easy and relatively low cost until it gets to the finished product, but there are contract bottling facilities around for small batches. Key points are:
  • Fruit don't like wet feet
  • Sunshine is king
  • Stake trees well initially
  • Water in the summer if it's dry
  • Plant when the soil is right, not when it's convenient
  • Fruit don't like wet feet
 

Flat 10

Member
Location
Fen Edge
Personally if the ground is so bad you need to plant on berms I would not plant apples there, but if your mind is made up.......
Find the existing drains and make sure they are as good as they can be, rod them and clear any ditch outlets.
Plough the ground after glyphosate and plant a crop of mustard. Just before it flowers flail it off and plough it in, repeat. This is to get as much organic matter in the ground as you can, do not forget the lime!
Do not try to work the ground when wet which is likely to be from September to April.
A power harrow and/or a potato bed former are likely to be the best weapons for the hilling.
The above assumes you are in the UK. Rotavators don't improve clay ground and I am not sure exactly what a flat lift is but suspect the same applies.
Flatlifts are type of Subsoiler that lift without heaving up the surface. I think they would be excellent at helping to deep loosen before planting. Surely if trees are on berms, harder to cultivate or spray round?
 

Bogweevil

Member
Berms don't have to be very high, in truth ridges might be a better name, they used them at long Ashton research station - quite effective I thought. Station long closed but trees might still be there if op wants to have a look.

Machine weeding tools can be effective and break down - build up ground as they go. Very expensive though, but can be hired.

Glyphosate, directed spray, basis of most orchard seed control but trees on vigorous stocks can be grassed down after first two years. Use amenity grass unless you want to be mowing every two minutes.

Worth noting that propensity to late frost is most important factor in siting orchard. Choose late flowering crops, usually apples, or cultivars for low lying frosty sites.
 

Rejuvenating swards: Which option is best?

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Written by Brian McDonnell

Maintaining grass quality during mid-season grazing is important. Farmers can maintain quality by entering ideal grazing covers of 1,300 – 1,500kg DM/ha, and grazing down to a residual of 4cm every rotation.

If you are now in a situation where cows are not cleaning out paddocks as well as they should be, leading to the development of steamy grass within the sward, here are some options.

Common options for rejuvenating swards include:

  1. Take a silage cut, probably into bales, remove the material and start again with the aftermath...
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