Orchardists 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.
Growing 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
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.
Orchardists' 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."
Orchardists 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.
Orchardists 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
An 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.