► Choose a nursery carefully when ordering trees.
- Ask if the nursery has the cultivar and strain, rootstock, tree size, and quality that you want and if it has enough in stock to meet your needs.
- Don’t accept an undesirable cultivar-rootstock combination. You could end up with a spacing problem in your orchard if you plant a mixed block of cultivars, strains, and rootstocks. You’re better off to delay your planting for a year until you are able to get exactly what you want.
► Buy the best trees that you can.
Bargain or low-priced trees are often more costly in the long run. A planting begun with poor-quality trees may never recover. An orchard can only be as good as the quality of its young trees.
► Talk to growers who have ordered from a nursery you do not know.
- Information that comes from word of mouth and other growers’ experiences can be invaluable when deciding on a nursery. Most nurseries realize that the best advertisement for their product is a satisfied customer.
- Ask about the condition of trees on arrival and about problems in ordering or receiving the trees. Fortunately, most nurseries are honest, but accidents can occur. Be aware of a nursery’s policies on replacing incorrectly labeled trees.
► Visit the nursery, if at all possible.
Nurseries usually welcome anyone interested in their operation.
► Before ordering, find out about the nursery’s guarantee concerning:
- Trueness to name.
► Ask whether the nursery participates in a certification program, either a state program or its own.
These programs guarantee their trees to be true to name and free from all disease and insect problems.
Robert Crassweller, Penn State University