I was speaking of doing jujube as a commercial venture- growing fields of them to sell. “Not expecting much from it” wouldn’t be a good financial plan
I am growing some So/Contorted from seed, and you’re right that I’m not expecting much from them. At least for quite a while. Here are my two biggest ones which have been growing for 2 years (surrounded by boysenberry vines). One of them has been in the ground for the last year and both are still about a foot tall. At this rate, it wouldn’t surprise me if we are talking 8 years to significant fruit, given the large trees I plant take at least 4.
My understanding is that when establishing an orchard (apple, peach, pear, etc), the cost of the trees is $7 to $10 each. If you want to use a 10’ spacing (a bit wide compared to most modern high density orchards) with 12’ between rows, that equates to 18 rows (200’ long). For an acre, that would be 378 trees per acre. If you pay retail for them and get the nice big CA trees, that ~$23K (at $60 per tree). You may also want a trellis system (or posts. I’ve been using the 1 5/8" galvanized posts from HD (though I haven’t added them for most of my jujube) which run about $10 each (a bit over that, but you could probably get a volume discount).
But that $20-25K is small compared to the land. One town (with cheapest land in area) over I see an acre for $299K. Taxes are $7K, though they still include a house, which was removed, so they should go down by about 30% (the value of the land was 70% of the appraised value for this house). So, to wait 4 years costs $20K and overall, you’d be in it about $350K before picking a crop.
On the harvest side of things, my So is in year #8 and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten more than 5 pounds from it. If you assume that you can sell it direct for $3/pound (would have other costs- farmer’s market, etc), that means you’d be bringing in $5670 per year. Subtract the $5K for land taxes and you are left with $670 per year. Even if labor (mowing, weeding, picking, etc) was free, that means it would take 500+ years to pay down the initial costs. Jujube trees live a long time, but I fear I might not make it that long (not that I’m saying I won’t, as I’ve always hoped to live long enough to be around for when technology solves death…).
Obviously, the productivity of the trees has a big impact in the above analysis. If my 5 pound figure is wrong and it is really 10lbs (I haven’t measured to be sure), then you are making 6K per year, with an investment paydown in 58 years. Get $4 instead of $3 and you are at ~10K and a 35 year paydown.
The harvest could also go up over time. But, obviously, not a slam dunk. I’m happy to buy a bunch of trees (dozens, not hundreds) and plant them at different sites to see how things go for a while. Learning more, to see which assumptions can be adjusted is key before doing something like this.
Of course, if I were to retire and move somewhere warm where they naturally do well I’d consider planting an acre or two as a retirement project.