A Small Orchard's Big Monetary Returns From Dwarf Apple Trees

Bill Cahill gains the best monetary returns with dwarf apple trees that produce full-sized fruit with better fruit quality and in greater abundance than standard-sized trees.

| October/November 1996

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    They produce full-sized fruit, though—indeed, better than full-sized—and of better quality and in greater abundance than standard-sized trees or the semi dwarfs that have become the commercial grower's favorite.
    PHOTO: ROBIN THOMAS
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    Bury a 2-foot-high hardware cloth cylinder several inches into soil to protect against rodents.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Diagram: Hill planting rules.
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    A spreader widens main scaffold limbs.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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A small orchard's success relies on big monetary returns from dwarf apple trees. (See the apple orchard photos and diagram in the image gallery.)

A Small Orchard's Big Monetary Returns From Dwarf Apple Trees

If Bill Cahill climbed an apple-picking ladder at the top of his orchard hill he could see the high-rises of Manhattan-deepest New York City. But Bill doesn't have a ladder. He doesn't need one because his trees are dwarfs—short enough to be harvested standing flat-footed. They produce full-sized fruit, though—indeed, better than full-sized—and of better quality and in greater abundance than standard-sized trees or the semi dwarfs that have become the commercial grower's favorite. Bill's four-plus-acre orchard is so productive it is a viable agricultural business in Suffolk County, New York—some of the highest-priced residential real estate in the nation.

A lawyer by profession and experimental orchardist by avocation, Bill is a member of such fruit-science organizations as the American Pomological Society and the International Dwarf Fruit Tree Association. In his 22 years of practical research, and as a profitable orchardist since 1988, he's discovered the magic formula for making big bucks from small acreage, showing the way to keep traditional farmlands of Long Island and other near-city real estate in agricultural production rather than being taxed into the hands of developers. And Bill and his fellow experimental orchardists are showing one way that MOTHER'S readers—whether we live in a high-rent district or in dollar-an-acre hinterlands—can support a homesteading life or earn retirement income by harvesting high-quality, high-profit fruit from tiny but superproductive dwarf trees that we can grow on just a few acres.

Here is how MOTHER interprets the major elements of Bill's magic formula:



1. Raise premium examples of popular fruit pears, peaches, apples, cherries, plums (and maybe a few loquats or pawpaws for the fun of it—but just a few). Keep the crops conventional, but raise uncommon varieties of superior quality that are too demanding or delicate for commercial production and shipping and/or are unusual enough in size, color, shape, taste, or novelty to command a premium price.

2. Plant superproductive dwarf trees that can be grown intensively on small acreage and that you can tend and harvest yourself with a minimum of outside services, sup-plies, or labor. And grow your produce as naturally (organically) as possible.






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