EVA Apples: On top of that I would be keen to know if you can estimate how much you need to invest until you have the first decent crop yield. How long does it take anyway until the trees have their first crop and how long do you have a trees in average?
Karin: This is a good questions but difficult to answer. Crop protection of course starts in the first year, all other measurements like opening of the hail nets, mulching, fertilizing also have to be done. In my opinion we are more or less having 100% costs from the first day of planting but I can’t give you any solid figures. In my estimation it’s around 12.000 € up to 17.000 € per year and hectare. In regard of your second questions; it depends on the quality of the young trees. If the quality of the tree is good, we can have the first small harvest already in the 2nd year. Anyway with the 3rd or 4th year the trees should have a full crop. Depending on the quality and the variety we have the trees for about 15-20 years in our orchard.
EVA Apples: How and where are you ordering the trees which will be shipped to you?
Karin: This depends on the variety. There are many excellent tree farms in Austria. If you order there, every producer can order for themselves and can choose shipment or self-pick up. The trees we are planting today on the other hand are trees from the tree farm FENO in Italy. Here our group organized the transport for all producers who are going to plant and ordered this variety.
EVA Apples: How quickly do you need to plant the trees and how important is it that the trees are immediately getting supplied with water?
Karin: It is of huge importance that the trees are not put away for too long and the roots are drying out. Because of that the immediately need to be planted and covered with soil. The soil needs to be tramped down. We are watering the plants with plentiful water.
EVA Apples: Are there any quality checks you need to do once the young trees are arriving? What kind of impact could a physical damage cause in the long run?
Karin: Of course we are doing a quality check on arrival of the trees. There are one year old branched trees or two year old “Knip-trees” with various numbers of sprouts. These need to have a certain length and can be measured by a scaling system (5+ or 7+). Of course there can physical damages wherefore we are doing a decent quality check. On the other hand it needs to be practical. The planting of trees is a long term project. You are ordering trees and are clearing the orchard. A tree is a natural “product” wherefore there always will be some irregularities with the plants.
EVA Apples: Once the trees are planted it’s important that they have an immediate water supply. You are using your installed irrigation system. How do producers without irrigation system have to deal with watering of plants, respectively how have you done this before you had installed your irrigation system?
Karin: Water is one of the most important facts for the young trees. As you said we are using our irrigation system which safes us a lot of time and work. All others, without irrigation system need to water their trees regularly in order the roots are constantly wet and can start to grow.
EVA Apples: Are there damages or illnesses which can occur in the first years? Are the tree farmers giving some kind of guarantee?
Karin: A tree is a natural product, grown in nature. Because of that there can always occur damage, for examples can hail cause some serious damages. Also the weather conditions are uncontrollable, for which reason no one can give guarantees. For me as a producer any kind of damage is a problem. But in most cases your hands are tied as the planting of the trees has already been done. So overall you don’t have many alternatives than to accept the weaker quality. The only option is to renegotiate the price with the seller of the trees.