So, How Many Apple Trees to Plant per Acre?

Who doesn’t like a juicy red apple every once in a while? I grew up taking an apple to school every day – yes, I was that kid with the apple in his lunch box. It wasn’t a problem because, unlike some of my classmates, I actually liked fruit in general (with apples being a particular favorite).

With that in mind, I like the idea of an apple orchard right outside my window. Now, here’s the question you may have if you want to plant your own orchard:

How many apple trees can be planted per acre of land? An average orchard can have around 36 standard-sized apple trees per acre. If you have semi-dwarf trees, you can fit 170 per acre, while up to 400 dwarf apple trees can fit in the same space.

apple tree orchard

An Expensive Venture

As a general rule: it takes around $10,000 per acre for the first two years or so to start a high density apple orchard. It takes several years to make an orchard profitable, and that makes it crucial that you know exactly what trees will do well on your land.

That’s where growing an apple orchard becomes complicated – there are over 8,000 different species’ of apple tree; how do you know which is the right one for you?

Apple trees are generally adaptive to their climate, but certain climates are preferred by certain species. Some can handle extreme cold, while others prefer the warmer, coastal climates.

In general, however, most apple tree species require around 500 to 1000 hours of cold weather to bring us humans a crisp, tasty fruit…I almost feel bad for them.

Most Common Types of Apples to Plant

Most apple trees that we have today are hybrids of two trees native to Asia: Malus Pumila and Malus sylvestris – note: Malus is the species’ scientific name. The four types of apples that I’m most familiar with are:

  • Red Delicious
  • Fuji
  • Golden Delicious
  • Granny Smith

Before you ask, yes, those are the actual names of these apples. Each one has slightly different requirements for planting.

The Red Delicious tree requires a depth of 2 to 3 feet, and a distance of 12 to 15 feet between each tree (10 feet for the smaller, dwarf variety). They also require six hours of unfiltered, direct sunlight.

The red, delicious apple has a mild sweetness to it, which makes it very good for desserts.

Fuji apples are one of the better-known apples available in stores nowadays. They’re known for being super sweet with a crisp texture and flavor. As far as looks go, Fuji apples have a greenish skin with red highlights.

These are a Japanese hybrid of the red delicious and Virginia genet. In terms of spacing, these trees grow between 15 and 20 feet wide in a spread of between 4.5 – 6.1 meters, and require between 200 and 400 hours of chill time.

Golden Delicious apples have a sweet flavor to them that’s great in pies, salads, and certain meat dishes. They’re self-pollinating and can be found in sizes of 8 to 10 feet (for the dwarf variety) and 12 to 15 feet (semi-dwarf).

They’re easy to grow, and don’t actually take up much space at all. As far as weather requirements, they need to be in full sun and can tolerate high temperatures – both hot and cold.

Granny Smith apples are very familiar sight in grocery stores. They’re known for their lime-green color, crisp texture, and flavor.

These apples are insanely popular, and can be used in pies/desserts, ciders, or in cooking. The flavor has a sweet but has a certain tartness to it which gives it a nice sharp taste.

How Much Space do Apple Trees Need?

As far as the number of trees to plant per acre, an average orchard has around 150 – 180 trees per acre. A higher density orchard would have 450 – 600 trees.

With that said how much space per acre do apple trees need? Well, that depends on what size trees you’re planting.

Standard, semi-dwarf, and dwarf trees all require specific amounts of space; which means it’s time for a quick math lesson! Oh, you’ll need a calculator unless you can do this in your head.

Standard-sized trees are the largest of the three sizes, and they require between 30 – 35 feet (9 – 11 meters) of space between each tree. The semi-dwarf, medium-sized trees require 15 feet (5 meters) between each tree. Dwarf trees need 10 feet (3 meters).

With that in mind, I worked out that you could plant 25 – 36 standard sized trees on a 1 acre plot. You can plant around 169 semi-dwarf trees and around 400 dwarf trees on a 1 acre lot.

The Math:

1 acre = 43,560 square feet (208.71 ft. x 208.71 ft.) – this is 4,047 square meters.

1 standard tree needs 30 – 35 feet of space.

Start by getting the square root of 43,560 (208.71).

Divide by 30, and you get 6.9 trees.

apple tree density diagram

BUT: you can’t have 0.9 of a tree – it’s not physically possible. So, we treat the 0.9 as extra space. This gives us six rows of six trees: 6 x 6 = 36.

Therefore you have 36 standard-sized trees.

If you worked with a spacing of 35 ft, you’d get 5.9; you do the same thing. The 0.9 is treated as extra space, 5 x 5 = 25. So, you can plant between 25 and 36 trees on one acre of land.

Semi-dwarf trees would be: 208.71 / 15 = 13.9

13 x 13 = 169 semi-dwarf trees

Dwarf trees would be: 208.71 / 10 = 20.9

20 x 20 = 400 dwarf trees

Okay, math lesson over; if you did that in your head, good for you!

In Closing

In closing, I hope you found this article informative and enjoyable to read. Now that you know how many trees to plant, I wish you all success in your apple-growing venture.

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