Is my math right on this for bushels to tree size per area of grow space?

I was looking at Stark Bros. website, and the orchard planning pdf gave various calculations.

For semi-dwarf, if I have 4000sq ft, and I use 10’x14’, that’s 4000/140 = 28 trees. If I get 5 bushels off a tree, that’s 140 bushels.

For a dwarf, same 4000sq ft, at 2’x10’, that’s 4000/20=200. If I get 3 bushels off each tree, I get 600 bushels.

Am I calculating this right? If I want higher yield, is there any reason for not getting the dwarf? This assumes I am after the most gain and the soil can tolerate the rootstock, good production and so on. Only the numbers. Is this correct?


Dwarfs typically yield more per unit area, but less per tree. So yes, your math is right. The downsides are that you need more trees, they’ll probably need a support system, will need more irrigation, and will probably not live as long as a semi dwarf. For commercial orchards, it’s pretty much a no-brainer. Earlier bearing and higher yield per acre make up for the higher upfront cost. And they can be somewhat more nimble in responding to market demand.


Your math is right but high density dwarf trees require more knowledge and skill, irrigation and trellis. Also, mistakes made early are not easily corrected. Since the trees are touching each other in the row disease like FB can move quickly. 2X10 sounds pretty close for most rootstocks/varieties 3X12 would give you a little more room. Its also a typical recommendation for high density apples in many apple growing areas


Generally, for a semi-dwarf trees trained to the central leader system with say 11 feet between trees and 16 feet between rows spacing you can expect a yield of 4 bushels per tree.

For dwarf trees that are planted to the tall spindle system (typical for commercial orchards) using a spacing of 3 feet between trees and 11 feet between rows you can expect about a bushel per tree. If the dwarf is trained to the central leader system (still with support) and allowed to have more space to grow say 6-10 feet between trees the yield per tree will be higher since the tree is wider and bigger. Probably 2-3 bushels for the wider spacing.

This assumes that you are using modern commercial apples cultivars and you maintain the trees well. Old heirlooms will yield less and in some cases much less. Trees that are poorly maintained also yield less.

To get an idea how spacing, soil, rootstock, cultivar and irrigation effect tree spacing look at this calculator.


I seem to be expecting too much from a single dwarf.

@beforeIdie If you explain your plans in detail I think we could be of more help to you. Are you planning to sell apples or is this planting strictly for home use? If for home use are you planning to process apples or eat them fresh? What cultivars are you looking at and what rootstocks? If your not going to process the apples you may need smaller yields than you think you need, a bushel of apples is a lot of apples.

Also are deer active in your area? If they are you will want a fence and/or go with larger size trees. As the size of the tree increases the trees become harder to prune, harvest, and spray long term so there are trade offs between smaller and larger trees. Smaller trees can be brought in production quicker and being small they are easier to prune, spray and harvest but they have low resistance to deer.

Basically, growing apples is a system and you will tailor your system to your local conditions.

Essentially, I have a half acre for fruit trees. I wanted to sell them, but I don’t see how I could make much of a profit or compete. Maybe specialty apples? Plus not all apples are perfect, so I can’t expect people to buy them. A little discouraging, actually. Seems dumb to buy 200+ trees. I couldn’t eat all those!

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I don’t think a 1/2 acre is large enough for a commercial orchard. Essentially an orchard that small will operate at a loss. You may be able to sell some extra apples to defray your costs but again it’s not going to be profitable.

My suggestion would be to do the following. Buy 4-6 trees to get your feet wet and see if you really want to have a large orchard. There are people on the forum that have large orchards and people that have small orchards with few trees. You may actually be happier with a smaller orchard. Also you may find that growing apples as a hobby in the long term is not something you really want to do so there is no sense in buying a 100+ trees in the beginning.

Your in Georgia and have clay soil right? If that is the case this is what I would plant if I was in your shoes. I would pick two trees that have high resistance to the major apple diseases scab, fireblight, cedar apple rust, powdery mildew, and summer rots. It is almost impossible to get high resistance to all 5 diseases in one tree so spreading the disease resistance to the 5 diseases over two trees gives more options as far as cultivars you can pick. For example you could use Enterprise and William’s Pride.

Look at this list for disease resistance to scab, fireblight, powdery mildew and cedar apple rust:

For resistance to Summer rots which are usually not well documented look at this thread for two lists of apples resistant to Summer rots:

No apples really have resistance to insects unfortunately. So for insects you will have to spray insecticides, or spray Surround (a kaolin clay) or bag the fruit to protect the apples.

In 2 years after planting the trees you will have a much better understanding of the disease pressure in your local area. In 4 years you will have picked a few apples and better understand the reality of growing apples. After four years of experience you will be able to wisely pick any additional trees you want given your added experience under local conditions.

For the other 2-4 trees pick any trees you want but here are some suggestions. Avoid any trees that are highly susceptible to any apple disease. Susceptible is okay. Highly susceptible trees create a disease reservoir in your orchard and make it really hard to keep diseases under control in years where conditions favor their spread. This especially true with fireblight because it will kill trees and there aren’t really good control measures (sprays) you can use in a home orchard.

Popular commercial cultivars are worth looking at and so are popular widely planted heirlooms. Regional heirlooms that are popular in the South East could also work well. For example you might want to look at Arkansas Black as a possible choice.

Avoid rare apples for the most part. If all the descriptions use the exact same words and phases be suspicious…because probably no one is actually growing it. This also goes for apples that have short undetailed listings on Pomiferous or OrangePippin again few people are actually growing the apple.

For rootstocks in Georgia for clay soil I would look at G11, G214, G30, G969, G890, and M7 for dwarf and semi-dwarf trees. Do some research on cultivars and rootstocks and when you have narrowed your choices you can always post on the forum and ask for feedback.

Good luck hunting :slightly_smiling_face:


We have one semi-dwarf apple and a similar sized pear and have enough fruit to give away to all our neighbors and stock our spare fridge to overflow. We’ll be eating apples until perhaps March. I’m guessing a typical harvest is maybe 150-200 pounds. Two years ago I probably got 250 pounds.

Harvest is almost more than I like taking on by myself. Of course, I’m not in my 50s any more, and therein lies the rub. It never occurred to me when I started growing my apple tree 20+ years ago that I’d ever get tired of success, but now that I’m in my early 70s …

I really dislike thinning blossoms and I get tired of picking apples and pears. I guess I’m just not as invested in projects as I used to be!


I admire your ambition, really. If you do decide to take it on, you can keep costs down by grafting yourself or by ordering from a wholesale supplier, custom grafter, etc. @mroot is right that you’ll have a hard time turning a profit. You might be able to swing it if you grow heirloom varieties that some people will pay a premium for. However, it’s hard to say if there’s enough of a market unless you try, so that’s also a risk.

Amazing advice and information. Thank you for all your time.


Any thoughts on which heirloom variety is a good one to investigate?

Being from the south, perhaps looking into some of the limbertwig varieties would be a good start. Most if not all are southern varieties that do well with low chill hours and your summer heat.