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Introduction to Tree Fruit Production (BF 223)

Ripe red MacIntosh apples on the tree.

Ripe red McIntosh apples on the tree.

Planning and managing orchards for hobby and business

Tree fruit are an important component of the agricultural and homeowner landscape. Planting and management of apple and other tree fruit orchards is a rewarding hobby and business, but important considerations must be met to ensure success.

This course trains beginning tree fruit growers in fundamental concepts in orchard planning and management. Content will include site selection and management, rootstock and cultivar selection, orchard systems, pest management, nutrient management, and harvest considerations for commercial orchards tailored to the northeast U.S.


Target Audience

ALL LEVELS – The course is for beginning tree fruit growers, or experienced growers seeking a refresher on basic concepts in orchard management. The topics covered will be specific to orchard systems.


Course Objectives

At the completion of this course, you will:

  • Understand of the basics of tree fruit production, harvesting, and marketing
  • Develop an orchard planting and management plan



The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in MOODLE, our virtual classroom. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the online interface of the course to allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from outside presenters and ask questions to address your farm issues in real time. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing. Access details will be posted in MOODLE once you have registered and logged in.



January 18 – Feb 22, 2017, with webinars each Wednesday evening from 6:30-8pm Eastern time.


Anna Wallis, Regional Fruit Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program (CCE ENYCHP).

Dr. Terence Bradshaw, Research Assistant Professor and Tree Fruit & Viticulture Specialist at the University of Vermont.


Course Outline

Week 1: Introduction, orchard venture analysis and business planning, tree fruit botany 
Topics covered: Navigating moodle, course overview, evaluation of orchard goals, business planning, tree fruit botany.

Week 2: Orchard planning
Topics covered: Site considerations for orchards, pre-planting site modification, orchard planning.

Week 3: Orchard system components
Topics covered: Appropriate fruit cultivars and rootstocks for the region and market, choice of planting systems and initial management considerations

Week 4: Orchard management
Topics covered: Pruning, training, groundcover, and nutrient management

Week 5: Integrated Pest Management 
Topics covered: Sustainable management of insect and disease pests in the orchard

Week 6: Harvest
Topics covered: Ripening physiology, harvest planning, crop load management, cold storage, marketing.



Fee for this course is $250. Sign up a month or more in advance of the start date and receive $25 off. Sign up for three or more courses and received $50 off your total.

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