Fruit Growers

tb26

Member
Horticulture
Hi all

We planted an orchard a few years ago (North Yorkshire), have about 500 trees on some of our land, about 35 heritage varieties on MM106 rootstock. We are maybe 2 years from getting a good crop and our plan is to sell organic juice.

Are there any members on here growing Apples? If so, how are getting on, any varieties you think work well and any tips for our small(ish) operation. I have a plan to use a few more fields over the next few years.
 

Kidds

Member
Horticulture
I have twice as many trees as you and less than half as many varieties, I have too many varieties.
My three year old orchard cropped well this year (on 106) so would expect a crop from yours sooner than you suggest. The older orchards cropped well enough, Cox especially well. Last year I lost about 90% to late frosts in May.
The plan was to juice all the apples but there is more money to be had by selling the fruit to shops etc, even more money if you have your own shop but I don't want to do that at the mo. That said, there's not a right lot of money to be made and if you are organic then even less crop. Juice sales seem to be very variable, I understand the weather effecting sales but mix in Covid and it gets very confusing. A big advantage for me is local sales are boosted by not having much competition, I expect the same would be said about your location.
 

tb26

Member
Horticulture
Hi Kidds, thanks for your reply. I plan on only grafting only the best varieties from now on in, I'm grafting the from the trees that have stayed desease free, in the spring. We have had a crop this year and we juiced them all pretty much. We suffered frost damage too, the orchard is quite well protected, so only about 20% effected. I have had a few local farm shops asking for eaters, I no doubt will sell what I can that way but I will be keeping everything Organic, I've spend a lot of time creating a permiculture over the years.
 

Kidds

Member
Horticulture
Scab is probably your biggest problem if selling fruit, people don't want to buy apples with scab even if they are organic. They generally don't want to pay extra for organic either but again things are so variable post Covid it is difficult to say how things will go. Covid definitely made people more interested about their food and where it comes from but that has waned a great deal.
If you are juicing it matters hardly at all, the only issue would be a reduction in crop but if you can crop well and still be organic then happy days. Does adding ascorbic acid to juice make it not organic?
How do you intend to press, as in what machinery are you going to use? And what bottling machinery and pasteurising method will you be using? Do you intend to bottle or bag in a box?
Who will be your customers? Shops, cafe, pubs, general public?
There is a lot of investment needed for the machinery and the costs seem enormous to me. I process 20-30 tons and it's not much more than hobby scale really but to go up a notch would cost many £10k's for the machinery.

There's a nursery up your way that sells apple trees, someone told me they have an incredible amount of varieties, maybe they would be good for choice of varieties for you. I expect you have already done that bit though.
 

Bogweevil

Member
Hi all

We planted an orchard a few years ago (North Yorkshire), have about 500 trees on some of our land, about 35 heritage varieties on MM106 rootstock. We are maybe 2 years from getting a good crop and our plan is to sell organic juice.

Are there any members on here growing Apples? If so, how are getting on, any varieties you think work well and any tips for our small(ish) operation. I have a plan to use a few more fields over the next few years.

Depends on your market - farm gate sales to older people might focus on cox-like cultivars (don't grow cox it is a beast) - Sunset, Pixie, Fiesta, Alkmene/Red Windsor, russets even and cookers - howgate wonder and rev wilks. If you cannot store or sell all to customers to store you might prefer to concentrate on early cultivars - discovery, james grieve, fortune

Younger people, who lack discretion, like crunchy sweet apples - Scrumptious, Greensleeves, pinova

Gala, braeburn and golden delicious are boggers for scab - there are some scab resistant cultivars to consider if you are averse to applying sulphur and your customers kick off about scabs; adams pearmain, saturn and topaz

Controlled atmosphere storage is not feasible where you have a wide range of cultivars, but a cold store will help keep stuff sound until the new year. Apples that ripen in the new year such as Winston taste like turnips so I would aim to sell all stock by Christmas and don't bother to grow many late cultivars

RV Roger, yorkshire nursery, top people. https://rvroger.co.uk/fruit/
 

tb26

Member
Horticulture
To answer a few of the above.

Equipment wise, we have a virgo electric scratter, it's a beast. It will do us for a few years I should think. We have an in bottle pasturising bath and two presses. Bottling is the next thing we need, we used to bottle our milk and have a few milkmen who are very interested in the juice. Cold storage we still have.

RV roger have supplied us the rootstock, very good to deal with.

We have quite a few of the above mentioned varieties, spartan, sunset, discovery, ashmeads kernal, james greive, howgate wonder, fiesa.

We have a mix of earlies and lates, all in a rough picking order. It worked quite well this year. My plan is to take 4/5 of our best and propergate them into a new orchard over the next few years.

Scab we only had a few of the cookers effected and some of the granny smiths, i've leaf blown over the winters and spring and it really helped this year, with a homemade tree spray. I'm going to be on the moth problem more next year.

One big thing I'm looking at is containers for collection and trailer for the bins/containers. So any suggestions would be great, preferably the type that can picked up with the forks. I like the idea of converting an old combine header trailer into an orchard trailer.
 

tb26

Member
Horticulture
I meant to mention, the trees all came from Brogdales in kent, they supplied the trees on what they thought would work well up here. The contact from another project my dad was doing. It was somthing we talked about for a while and one of a few projects ongoing. I really enjoy doing this and as the trees have grown and needed looking after, I've loved the challenge.
 

Bogweevil

Member
To answer a few of the above.

Equipment wise, we have a virgo electric scratter, it's a beast. It will do us for a few years I should think. We have an in bottle pasturising bath and two presses. Bottling is the next thing we need, we used to bottle our milk and have a few milkmen who are very interested in the juice. Cold storage we still have.

RV roger have supplied us the rootstock, very good to deal with.

We have quite a few of the above mentioned varieties, spartan, sunset, discovery, ashmeads kernal, james greive, howgate wonder, fiesa.

We have a mix of earlies and lates, all in a rough picking order. It worked quite well this year. My plan is to take 4/5 of our best and propergate them into a new orchard over the next few years.

Scab we only had a few of the cookers effected and some of the granny smiths, i've leaf blown over the winters and spring and it really helped this year, with a homemade tree spray. I'm going to be on the moth problem more next year.

One big thing I'm looking at is containers for collection and trailer for the bins/containers. So any suggestions would be great, preferably the type that can picked up with the forks. I like the idea of converting an old combine header trailer into an orchard trailer.

Stackable plastic crates are ideal http://www.weepallet.com/plastic-crate/plastic-fruit-crates/ You can stack them on pallets, but if for juicing then bulk bins I suppose.

I am sure with the right marketing there could be reasonable sales of less usual apples direct to the public.

Non-pesticide pesticides, some approved for organic growing, include:

Karma
16363​
GB and NI​
28/02/2025​
Certis Europe BV​
apple​
Potassium hydrogen carbonate​
Kumulus DF
04707​
31/12/2021​
BASF plc​
apple​
sulphur​

Capex
18258​
31/07/2025​
Andermatt UK​
apple​
adoxophyes orana gv (swiss isolate (bv-0001))​
Carpovirusine
15243​
GB and NI​
31/10/2024​
Arysta Lifescience SAS​
apple​
cydia pomonella granulosis virus​
GB and NI​
31/10/2024​
Arysta LifeScience SAS​
apple​
cydia pomonella granulosis virus​

Cyd-X
17019​
GB and NI​
31/10/2024​
Certis​
apple​
cydia pomonella granulosis virus​
Cyd-X Duo
16779​
GB and NI​
31/10/2024​
Certis​
apple​
cydia pomonella granulosis virus​
Cyd-X Xtra
17020​
GB and NI​
31/10/2024​
Certis​
apple​
cydia pomonella granulosis virus​
Delfin WG
18452​
GB and NI​
31/10/2024​
Andermatt Biocontrol UK Limited​
apple (outdoor)​
bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki SA-11,SA​

Lepinox Plus
16269​
GB and NI​
31/10/2024​
Fargro Limited​
apple (outdoor)​
Bacillus Thuringiensis Kurstaki E2348​
Madex Top
18227​
31/10/2022​
Andermatt Biocontrol AG​
apple​
Cydia pomonella Granulovirus isolate V15​

EAMU

FLiPPER
19154​
GB and NI​
20193419
27/09/2019
28/02/2025​
Bayer CropScience Limited​
fatty acids C7-C20​
Protected and outdoor apple more
Aphids (Aphididae), blossom weevil, two spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae)​
 

Fruitbat

Member
BASIS
Location
Worcestershire
Depending how serious you are on going organic, I’d slip in some Maxicrop @ 1lt/ha at SB Plant Invigorator. Don’t scrimp on calcium fertiliser.
For juice only, Falstaff or Red Falstaff as it is quite attractive for sales too. The fruit can get big, but it makes picking faster! Egremont Russet makes cracking juice but yield less than other varieties. Worcester Pearmain for another early, but Bogeeevil has a good list, but I agree avoid Cox, Gala, Braeburn. Bramley is underrated as a juicer - yields well too.
 

Kidds

Member
Horticulture
For picking containers I would go with plastic vented bulk bins if you can stand the cost, they come up at around £100 each new (+ VAT) or even once used from citrus being shipped in. Wooden ones are the next choice and new can be had for £30 ish. Plastic are much nicer to work with, lighter and easier to clean, not as prone to being broken etc. I would ask Reco, Stockport. https://www.recohandling.com/
s-l200.jpg

I pick mine into bins using a picking box on a stack of 3 milk crates zip tied together, it works for me. I won't use a picking basket as they are too heavy around your neck but if you are young and daft you will ignore the pain and bugger yourself up. (I know from my own experience) Picking box came from Richard Burton, Specialised Machinery. http://www.rbsm.me.uk/
7252287_orig.jpg


For bottling I use a Vigo 4 head bench mounted gravity filler. If filling 330ml bottles it fills them quicker than I can take them off but if filling 75cl bottles I am having to wait for the bottles to fill, not long but enough to irritate me as I know I could go quicker.
4-head-gravity-feed-filler-bench-top-version_201x250.jpg

I actually bought a used 6 head filler but I have decided to stick with the 4 head after all, as it is bench mounted it fits in with the layout of my shed. 6 head is for sale if you are interested, £1k + VAT. They are £1.7k new and there's not much that could go wrong with them, I think my 4 head has done nearly 1 million bottles and only had o-rings and the like. If you want new then Vigo sell the best stuff all round in my opinion. There are cheaper options but their stuff is tried and tested and works right from the off, I have bought machinery elsewhere but the money saved comes at a cost IYSWIM.
6 head
6-head-gravity-feed-filler-floor-standing-version_208x250.jpg
https://www.vigoltd.com/

As for carting bins around, I use a MF35 with a simple 3 point linkage fork on the back. It works very well as the tractor is very easy to get on and off repeatedly and it travels very lightly over the ground. It's a PITA making ruts in orchards because you are stuck with them and it makes it very unpleasant when picking. It takes a while to fill a bin and unless I am lucky enough to have any help with the picking I don't need a trailer, just run the bins back on the forks. If I am in a situation where I do need to cart bins around then I have a rear mounted fork lift and load onto my Ifor and 6 bins is plenty.
 

Kidds

Member
Horticulture
I would consider Jonagold for juice. I don't grow it myself but bought some in after suffering frosts last year. It made lovely golden juice that dropped very clear.
I have no cold storage and they kept well enough in my barn up until Christmas, they weren't organic but they had minimal spray as they were only ever grown for juice.
The resulting juice won first place at this Years National Fruit Show in Kent.
I am definitely planting some.
 

Tonka

Member
Location
N Yorkshire
Have to say I love the English apple season - and hate bog standard Gala, Braeburn and Granny (break your teeth) Smith. I also hate apples that are grown until they resemble the size of a cricket ball. Why? Large does not mean better.
A smaller apple, lots of flavour and grown in the UK.....bloody lovely, just not enough of you 👍
 

PhilipB

Member
Hi all

We planted an orchard a few years ago (North Yorkshire), have about 500 trees on some of our land, about 35 heritage varieties on MM106 rootstock. We are maybe 2 years from getting a good crop and our plan is to sell organic juice.

Are there any members on here growing Apples? If so, how are getting on, any varieties you think work well and any tips for our small(ish) operation. I have a plan to use a few more fields over the next few years.


I grow supermarket apples, so it's a completely different ballgame.

All i would say is that heritage varities are not grown commercially for a reason. Generally they crop poorly/ go biannual or don't taste that good. Most of the population want an apple sweeter and redder than cox.

So don't rule out the work of modern breeders on varities suitable for organic growing.

If you're doing juice then you either want to go single variety juices (and you won't want to carry stock of 35 different juices) or you'll want a "house blend" (with a recipe that isn't too complicated) so that you're marketing a consistent product. Either way i think you've got too many varieties going on there.
 

PhilipB

Member
I would consider Jonagold for juice. I don't grow it myself but bought some in after suffering frosts last year. It made lovely golden juice that dropped very clear.
I have no cold storage and they kept well enough in my barn up until Christmas, they weren't organic but they had minimal spray as they were only ever grown for juice.
The resulting juice won first place at this Years National Fruit Show in Kent.
I am definitely planting some.
Jonagold is very good for juice, and has super heavy crops.

It's a bit of a victim to scab and mildew.
 

Kidds

Member
Horticulture
More than 50 % of my crop is Cox, I admit to having issues controlling mildew but no scab to speak of. This year I have seen 4 apples with scab, the biggest was about the size of a 50p but the others no more than the size of a 5p piece. This was on Crispin which is very prone to scab being bred from Golden Delicious and the last spray on them was in July. My scab round is very relaxed really as I don't have a problem with it (fingers crossed) but mildew I struggle with.
If I was starting over I would still have a high percentage of Cox because they work well for me, another really big advantage is that people know the name. Faced with a range of apple juices people very often like to go with Cox or Bramley because they have heard of them so Cox juice sells, Cox & Bramley sells and I am sure the name alone plays a big part in that. Other single variety juices rely very heavily on the customer daring to try them before coming back for more, this leads on to another issue that once they have tried one and liked it they will stick with it rather than go on to try a different one. I have shops that sell only Cox & Bramley, or only Jonagold, or only Blend. Not because they are the better ones just because they tried once and stuck with it. All the juice is good stuff and very unlikely that anyone would say they didn't like whichever they tasted.
Only exceptions to that would be the sweetness really. Everyone has always said they want the sweet one until last year they all decided to ask for a sharper one, why the change I have no idea. It has got to the point it would probably be worth doing a single variety of Bramley which I have always refused to do as it is like battery acid as far as I am concerned. I don't have enough Bramley and have no trouble selling them as fresh fruit anyway. If I increased anything it would be Bramley, Discovery and James Grieve.
 

Hjcarter

Member
We've 5000ish trees over 15 acres between Nottingham and Derby.

5 varieties - Harry masters Jersey, dabinett, yarlington mill, three counties and red Falstaff. They're all Cider varieties.

Planted in 17, 18 & 19 so starting to develop a crop. We recovered to just over 4 ton this year after being battered by frost last year.

We spray a bit of fert but not so much pesticides. We are working hard on getting the ground right which will take a couple more years.

Our customers are mainly local cider producers but we'll need to expand in future - probably more northward.

Main things we've learned so far: know your ground and get it right, hygiene under the trees and be patient!!
 

Hjcarter

Member
Granular NPK & lime in the spring.

Spray boron & manganese pre blossom - another dose of boron late oct

P & K as liquid throughout season.

Taken to spraying compost tea throughout season, not sure if it does any good but doesn't hurt!
 

Kidds

Member
Horticulture
What fertiliser do you use?
None, or very little.
Haven't applied granular N for probably about 15 years. P index says not to apply anyway and K is probably low having not applied any for 10 years.
I do apply foliar calcium nitrate for bitterpit control, potassium bicarb for mildew (don't actually know if that makes any difference to K levels) and Epsom salts for Mg deficiency.
Trees look healthy to me and crop well, no plans to start buying fert at current prices anyway.
The orchard floor is grass with a great deal of clover in it (almost pure clover sometimes). This isn't planted or sown, I just mow the alleyways and that is what you end up with. Always very lush and almost a crop in itself, I assume the clover is providing the N.
 

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