Planting and growing apple trees can be rewarding and fruitful for hobby gardeners and commercial farmers. However, understanding the cost of apple trees is essential to pursuing this sort of horticulture.
In this article, we’ll discuss the costs of growing apple trees that you know about but also some costs you might not be aware of. By the end, you’ll fully understand what it takes financially to plant and grow apple trees.
If you dream of having your own apple orchard someday, keep reading!
Apple Tree Varieties and Their Costs
Apple trees come in various varieties, each with its unique features and growing requirements. The initial expense of purchasing an apple tree can range between $25 to $150, depending on factors such as the tree’s variety, type, and age.
Local nurseries often have good stock for just a few weeks in the spring. However, if you place an order with an online nursery for a bare-root tree, you’ll typically have greater selection. The following are some of our favorite online nurseries that carry apple tree:
Before embarking on this journey, potential apple tree growers should consider factors such as soil composition, space requirements, and cross-pollination.
Conducting a soil test to ensure a pH range of 6.0-7.0 is crucial for the tree’s healthy growth. Amending the soil with peat moss, compost, and bonemeal can provide a strong foundation for the tree.
All of these factors significantly contribute to the cost of apple trees. Here are some typical costs for soil testing and amendment supplies.
- Soil Testing Kit – $15 to $40 per kit
- Compost – $5 – $15 per bag
- Bonemeal – $15 to $40 per bag
In addition, ongoing maintenance expenses, which include planting, fertilizing, pesticides, irrigation, pruning, harvesting, tools, and hired labor, can amount to several hundred dollars per year.
As the tree matures and begins to bear fruit, typically within 5 to 8 years, the maintenance required and associated costs may increase.
By understanding the cost of apple trees and investing the necessary time and resources, growers can reap the rewards of bountiful apple harvests for years to come.
Here are some average costs associated with maintenance and tools.
- Fertilizer – $10 to $30 per bag
- Tree Stakes – $5 to $20 per stake
- Tree Protectors – $3 to $5 per protector
- Pesticides (if needed) – $10 to $50 per container
- Garden Sprayer – $25
- 10’ Tripod Ladder – $300
- Planting Labor – $20/hr
Remember that some of these costs may be one-time purchases, while others, like fertilizer or pesticides, might require regular replenishment throughout the tree’s growth. Labor costs can vary depending on the skill level of the laborer and the number of trees being planted.
These costs are meant to provide a general estimate and may vary based on location, store, or specific brand. Consult with a local nursery or experienced farmers for more tailored advice.
Site Selection and Preparation
Before planting apple trees, choosing the appropriate site and preparing it properly is crucial for the orchard’s success. Factors to consider include soil type, drainage, sunlight, and proximity to other trees.
Analyzing the soil and adjusting the pH and nutrient status before planting apple trees is important. A soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0 is recommended for easier leaf nutrient management. Optimal soil should be well-drained, as poor drainage can contribute to poor root development and increase the risk of disease.
Apple trees require at least eight hours of sunlight for proper growth and fruit development. Take into consideration potential shade from nearby buildings, trees, or structures.
Spacing and proximity to other trees are also important factors to consider. Proper spacing allows for adequate air circulation, decreasing disease risk and promoting tree health.
Typically, apple trees should be planted about 15-20 feet apart, depending on the tree’s rootstock and expected mature size. Wider spacing, around 25-30 feet, is advisable for larger trees.
Consult with local experts or extension services for guidance on appropriate spacing for your specific apple variety and rootstock.
Planting Site Prep Work
Regarding site preparation, start by removing any weeds and grass in a 4-foot diameter circle around the planting area. Protecting the young trees from injury, drying out, freezing, or overheating is crucial.
Investments in new apple orchards can be high depending on the production method, land preparation, tree costs, tree guards, stakes, and labor for planting and training trees. Plan for the long term, as a well-maintained commercial orchard can be productive for at least 20 years.
Care and Maintenance
Proper care and maintenance of apple trees are essential for a healthy and productive orchard, thus making it another contributing factor to the cost of apple trees. Key aspects of care include watering, pruning, pest and disease control, and fertilization.
Apple trees require regular watering, especially during the first few years of growth. The average apple tree will need 1.7 ac-ft, or 553,947 gallons, of water each growing season. This means you’ll have to supplement natural rainfall at an average cost of $.01 per five gallons of water.
It is important to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. A good guideline is to provide 1 inch of water per week through rainfall or supplemental irrigation.
Monitor soil moisture and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Drip irrigation systems can help maintain consistent moisture levels while preventing water waste and reducing disease risk.
- Water – $.01 per five gallons of water
- Drip Irrigation System – $1.50 to $4.50 per square foot, or $500 to $4,000 per acre
- Mulch – $5 to $20 per bag
Apple tree pruning is crucial to apple tree care as it promotes healthy growth, improves fruit production, and maintains the tree’s overall structure.
Apple trees must be trained in summer to shape them for optimal fruit. Routine pruning should be performed annually, preferably during the late winter months when the tree is dormant.
You’ll have to plan for pruning tools and labor costs.
- Pruning Shears – $15 to $50
- Pruning Lopper – $45
- Pruning Handsaw $30
- Tree Training Labor – $20/hr
Harvesting and Storage
If you’re growing apple trees, you’ll have fruit that needs picking. This means costs associated with harvesting tools and labor, depending on how many trees you’re growing.
Harvesting apples is a crucial aspect of apple tree care, as ensuring proper timing and technique can greatly affect the quality of the fruit.
Apples are typically harvested by hand when they reach maturity, which varies between 100 to 200 days, depending on the variety. It is essential to pick apples at the correct stage of their development to ensure optimal taste and storage potential.
Harvesting apples typically involves using large wooden or plastic bins with a capacity of 20 to 25 bushels each.
- Fruit Picker Tool – $15 to $60, depending on length and design
- Bushel Basket – $10 to $20
- Fruit Crate – $10 to $50
- Apple Picker Labor – $9 to $18 an hour
You may have so many apples that you need storage to keep them from going bad. This is a significant cost of apple trees to consider!
Apples can be kept in a cool, dark place, such as a cellar or refrigerator for short-term storage.
For long-term storage, consider using controlled atmosphere storage facilities or investing in specialized equipment, like commercial refrigeration units, to maintain the ideal conditions required for apple preservation.
- Commercial Walk-In Refrigeration – $10,000 to $20,000
Wrapping Up the Real Cost of Apple Trees
Were you surprised by the different costs of planting and growing apple trees? As you learned, it’s not just the cost of apple trees themselves but much more that you must consider before growing your apples.
But now that you do know the costs, you’re armed with the knowledge you need to plan and begin your apple-growing venture successfully.
Apple trees are a passion of ours at Minneopa Orchards. Visit our Apple Trees page to learn about more than 90 varieties of apples and find lots of helpful growing and care tips.