It is of great advantage to prepare a plan of the orchard in advance, be it a home or market garden or a commercial orchard. A detailed survey of the site is carried out including the levels and a good map to scale is drawn. A full knowledge of the fruits to be grown and their cultivation is also prerequisite for efficient planning.
The guiding principles in the preparation of plan are:
- The orchard should be managed most profitably
- It should present as attractive look as possible.
The following general principles may be borne in mind while drafting a plan and as many of them as possible should be fulfilled. It should be recognized that not all of them can be adopted in every case.
- If the entire area is not of the same type of soil, each fruit should be allocated to the soil type it prefers.
- The irrigation sources should be marked and channels indicated along gradients with a view to achieving the most economical conduct of water.
- Irrigated fruits should be close to the source of irrigation to avoid long irrigation channels and consequent loss of water during conduct.
- Tall windbreaks should be planted especially on the sides from which high winds are expected. There should be adequate clearance between the windbreaks and the crop.
- Roads should be planned to occupy the minimum space consistent with the economy of transport of orchard requisites and produce. The space between the windbreak and the first row of fruit trees may often be utilized for roads and canals etc. with advantages.
- Drains should follow the gradient of the land, should be as straight as possible and concealed from the visitors, if possible.
- When varieties with pollen preferences are planted they should have the pollenizer in an adjacent block or in alternate rows so as to ensure good crop set.
- Fruits which ripen at the same time should preferably be grouped together to facilitate easy watching and harvesting. Assign rear areas for tall trees and the front for shorter ones will besides facilitating watching, also improves the appearance of the orchard.
- The orchard should in general present an aesthetic appearance so as to provide marked attraction.
- The spacing adopted should be optimum.
- The spacing allowed is usually such that the fringes of the trees will just touch one another cutting out light but should not interlock.
- Within reasonable limits, closer spacing gives more yields in an earlier age. But in later life, the trees tend to grow taller than broad resulting in difficulty in pruning, spraying and harvesting.
- They also suffer from root competition inadequate nutrition, fewer fruits which tend to be smaller with comparatively poorer in colour development.
- So, adoption of closer spacing to accommodate more plants per acre proves to be a false economy in the long run.
The spacing given to fruit plants depends on the following factors.
- The habit of growth of the plant: The spacing being equal to the spread of the plants.
- Rainfall: In the case of rain fed crops closer spacing is given in lighter rainfall areas than in heavy rainfall areas.
- Nature of soil: Trees on stiffer soils may be given less spacing as both their top and root spread are limited in such soils.
- The root stock: Root stock influences the spread of the trees and to that extent determines the spacing to be adopted.
- Pruning and training
- Irrigation system.
- The method of layout should be fixed in advance so that the no. of plants required is worked out and arranged for.