Orchardist  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotOrchardists grow many different types of crops, including apples, plums, pears, peaches and cherries. In warmer climates, orchardists operate citrus orchards. They harvest lemons, oranges and grapefruit. Other orchardists have groves of nut-producing trees such as almonds and hazelnuts.

Basically, an orchardist can work with whatever grows on trees.

dotGrowing fruit involves much more than plucking a juicy apple from a tree. Orchardists must plan their crops, plant the trees, irrigate and prune them. In the spring, orchardists need to make sure their crops are pollinated by bees. While the fruit is growing, trees often need to be sprayed for insects and disease.

Finally, orchardists need to organize workers to harvest their fruit. Once this is done, the orchardist either markets and sells the fruit by herself, or sends it to a packing house where the fruit is sold commercially.

dotOrchardists' harvests often depend on factors they can't control.

"The weather and the market are two things you can't control in this industry," says Brady Vander Woude, an orchardist. "But there are a lot of enjoyable things about it, too."

dotOrchardists can run large or small farms, on leased land or on their own property. Many orchardists run their own businesses.

Some orchardists pick and sell locally at fruit stands and farmer's markets or run U-pick orchards, where customers select their own fruit. Many sell their apples commercially and to foreign markets.

dotOrchardists keep irregular hours. During the spring, summer and harvest, they will often work long hours, from daybreak to dusk. In the winter, they may have less to do outdoors, but often spend the time organizing and running the business.

dotAn orchardist might be on top of a ladder, hauling bags of fruit or driving a tractor. Whether pruning or spraying, running an orchard takes physical strength. In addition, orchardists often use pesticides and fungicides, which need to be handled carefully.

At a Glance

Grow and harvest various crops that come from trees

  • Most of America's fruit is grown in California, Texas and Florida
  • Orchardists' harvests often depend on factors they can't control
  • Practical experience is important