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cost per acre

Posted by Michael Phillips 
cost per acre
March 07, 2015 07:54PM
A driving factor in making a living at orcharding are the costs behind that marketable apple or peach. Manufacturers typically make the case that "such and such" costs so much per acre for the promised result. Orchardists in turn need to sift through the chaff to recognize what's justifiable. Many of us recognize the difference between investing in products that merely address symptoms and those that up nutritional oomph and medicinal value while getting the job done.

I'm working on the annual spray product price assessment that will soon be going out to supporting members of this network. Here's a per acre sampling of costs offered as a way of looking at spray budgets:
    [*] Entrust (spinosad) at recommended 8 oz rate costs $100 per acre application at quart price of $400. Wowser!
    [*] Micronized sulfur at recommended 10 lbs rate costs $16 per acre application at 30# bag price of $48. Add up how many times you spray sulfur in a season and that's your cost for disease control using this mineral fungicide.
    [*] Biowash "brix booster" at recommended 30 oz. per 100 gallons costs $12 per acre at gallon price of $45. Many such nutritional products can feasibly be homegrown with a little herbal understanding.
    [*] Pure neem oil at recommended 1/2 gallon per acre rate costs $32 per acre application at 4-gallon price of $252. Unadulterated neem delivers a strong immune boost, fatty acids for microbes and bark health, and azadiractin impact on insect molting cycles. Multitasking helps.
This goes on and on, of course. We each gauge the cumulative impact of management choices in determining what we can afford. Given the fact that everyone in this grower forum purchases products, I expect a lively discussion on budgeting for a spray program. Your turn...

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/08/2015 09:56AM by Michael Phillips.
Re: cost per acre
April 05, 2015 09:38PM
This is the technique for bringing back a post that deserves engaged discussion ... reply to your own message. grinning smiley

Seriously. Add up what you do. Share the numbers. Are costs reasonable in light of return? I'm willing to take this topic further if a few others will as well.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire
Re: cost per acre
April 16, 2015 10:39PM
Michael Phillips Wrote:
> Are costs reasonable in light of return?

Won't know for a number of years yet, as I am still in the put it in the ground phase; which means I keep writing checks, but have yet to cash one. I had also hoped to get to the end of planting before having to spray. Not an option. Last year I used the remainder of that year's capital to equipment up. This year I have found $1000.00 to purchase something to spray. Will that get me through the initial neem/fish/microorganisms? Perhaps. Perhaps I also will have overestimated total outlays for this years plantings. Once they are in the ground, weather permitting it will be done by the 26th, I will turn my purchasing power onto inoculants. More as I make actual choices...

Lakes Region NH @ 1200' or so

393 planted towards a 440 goal mixed apple, pear, plum and apricot...
Re: cost per acre
April 21, 2015 07:58PM
Once again I don't know how I missed the beginning of this a month ago. I just sent Michael a cost per acre spreadsheet a couple of hours ago based on Feb newsletter...the full tilt boogie...broken out. If he approves or changes it I don't know. Will post it for you all after M. gets a gander. It does come to over 500 bucks an acre at least. They were my numbers and I have done some editing since. I have mostly full grown trees. Chris won't have to come close to that for years. Sounds like the right size planting (it's what I tell people I'd do if I started all over). Can you really grow apricots there? I can't here.

The Apple Farm
Zone 8b in California

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/23/2015 12:28PM by Tim Bates.
Re: cost per acre
April 25, 2015 11:40PM
I haven't spent a dime on chemicals -- yet. I've got about 60 trees of fruit bearing age and another 1500 in the nursery. I'm only using fruit for the juice so I don't care about cosmetic damage. I'm also willing to sacrifice some amount of fruit (10-20%?) in exchange for putting in less effort & money. The only damage I've seen is a little bit of fireblight (mostly on those pesky euro varietals) , eastern tent caterpillar, and some wooly apple aphids a couple years ago. I do see plenty of fungal damage on the skin, rarely cracking into the fruit, mostly cosmetic. Our place has never been sprayed with chemicals or fertilized and I've got good #'s on soil tests that don't call for any amendments-- My hope is that it's got some magical natural balance going on , boosting natural immunity and keeping pests at bay... or have I just been lucky so far ?

Josh Klatt
Ohio River Valley
Zone 6b
Re: cost per acre
April 27, 2015 01:55PM
Cost per acre may be complicated to convey, given we each face particular challenges, every season has curveballs, and bulk purchasing sets up efficiencies that won't scale across the board. (For instance, I don't purchase neem in 55-gallon drums but rather four or six gallons at a time.) Talking things through with Tim for his cost analysis made all this obvious.

Last season I spent $895 per acre on what would be the spray component of my holistic management plan for Lost Nation Orchard. Soil amendments are a separate thing, often more of an upfront expense. Here's a stab at explaining what went on here in 2014:

• Four spring sprays, with doubled rates of fish and em in the very first
• Competitive Colonization Boost (one time) during bloom
• Three comprehensive sprays, with calcium and silica teas
• Two weeks of Surround coverage for curculio
• Entrust for sawfly; Dipel for bud moths
• Two botanical trunk sprays of 1% neem oil for borer
• Two summer sprays, with calcium teas, for SBFS
• Fall spray, with doubled (ground) rates of fish and em

Check out the February edition of Community Orchardist to best get a handle on this terminology.

This is what gets invested in northern New Hampshire to get a respectable holistic crop which makes part of my living. I have not done much with purchased foliar products (as recommended by Advancing Eco Ag and others) as my homegrown herbal teas with biology, milk, and mineral enhancements covers this ground to some degree. Then again, tweaking the plan keeps all this fascinating!

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/30/2015 11:37PM by Michael Phillips.
Re: cost per acre
June 08, 2015 06:50AM
Here are some approximate figures of our costs per hectare, with our standard spray programme. The total cost of $977 per hectare per year pales into insignificance when it is compared to the labour cost per hectare. But then again, if we can produce around 20 tonnes per hectare of fruit that averages $2.50 per kg (across all grades), then with a gross income around $50,000 per hectare we do have some room to move.

Because labour is so expensive in Australia (around $25 per hour which includes the extras such as workers compensation insurance and compulsory superannuation contribution), we do as much as we can ourselves, with help from Wwoofers and two full time paid employees. Of course it could be argued that the problem is not that wages are too high, the real problem is that good food is too cheap.

Copper hydroxide: 2.5kg/ha x2 applications = 5kg per year @ $11 per kg= $55 per ha per year
Wettable sulphur: 3.5kg/ha x8 applications= 28kg per year @$2.50 per kg = $70 per ha per year
Lime sulphur: 9 litres/ha x0.5 applications = 4.5 litres per year @ $1.80 per litre = $ 8 per ha per year

INSECT CONTROL (Caterpillars – Codling, LBAM, Heliothis, Loopers)
Isomate C: 1000 ties/ha @ $0.49 per tie= $490 per ha per year
Isomate LBAM: 500 ties/ha @ $0.40 per tie= $200 per ha per year
Dipel: 0.375kg/ha x2 applications = 0.75kg per year @ $65 per kg = $49 per ha per year

Fish/seaweed: 5 litres/ha x6 applications = 30 litres per year @ $3.50 per litre = $105 per ha per year

TOTAL $977 per ha per year

Kalangadoo Orchard
On the “other side” in South Australia
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