Should I buy an orchard?

If we’re talking crazy… an agribiz up here has goats/sheep and grows squash/gourds etc. In the fall, they sell squash to customers to launch from their squash rocket… a giant slingshot w/surgical tubing. The targets, unofficially, are the sheep/goats that eat the gourds. I’ve never heard of a hit on the animals. I think they’ve figured the game out. As for the farm… the idea of having customers pay to feed unsellable vegetables to livestock was financially brilliant and a great way to entertain kids that may be bored to tears otherwise.


I can’t claim to know much about commercial orchards, but I assume you will need some certifications to purchase/use pesticides in the amounts needed for an orchard of that size. How long before we start asking for scion wood?:slightly_smiling_face:

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I figure he’ll be the one asking for scion wood, as he topworks his trees over the next 5 years…

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You’re right about the spraying. I think it would be extremely difficult to grow all the fruits you mentioned in PA with only organic tools for pest control.

You can operate the orchard without an applicator license. It’s just that you wouldn’t be able to use any RUP pesticides, which are much cheaper than other options, generally.

An applicator license varies by state. In my area they are $25 for a five year license.

PA may require continuing education classes. Some states require that, some don’t.

Your operation is going to require a lot of labor. You will need some start up capital. You also will be subject to the new food safety rules. Generally extension will help you with that.

I would insist on a perpetual lease (or something like 50 years) renewable at your discretion. Allowing them to cancel only if your operation ceases to be a going concern.

You are in effect giving up a lucrative career and all the advancement which goes with it, for this new business venture.

The last thing you need is for some new guy to get in charge of the township and decide to lease it to someone else because he can get a few more dollars, making all the improvements you made for naught. Or hold you hostage while he hikes the rent. I’ve seen that happen a lot in my life.

Make sure the lease renewal rights have the future rent price, else it gives you no protection at all.

I’d also tie the rent to some percentage of gross receipts. Like maybe 10%? That way when you get frosted out, you don’t have the land payment. It’s going to be that much more difficult to come up with an extra $18K when you get frosted out while trying to keep your family fed.

Your going to need help right away for thinning and pruning. I’ve not got that many trees and I have three people thinning today.

Pruning is going to take a lot of labor, and you are already behind. You are already probably behind on your sprays. I don’t know how far PA is behind MO, but my guess is if you don’t get some sprays on soon, you will probably lose most of this year’s crop.



Enquiring minds and kindred spirits gotta know!


I didn’t get it. I found out yesterday the previous owner’s son and his wife are taking over. I had been waiting to here back from the township and conservancy but never did. My wife told me the new owners had posted on facebook that they were taking over and would be open for tart cherries soon.

I’m not sure if I was told the wrong info by the township or what, but I really did believe they didn’t have a plan and didn’t know what to do. I admit I also got wrapped up in the excitement of it all.

I am happy someone with experience is taking over. I know the new owner has worked on the farm for years and probably knows what he is doing better than I ever could. So for now I’m going to have to stick with my home orchard.

Thank you so much to everyone who voiced support and advice. Who knows what the future holds!