How we plant
Planting apple orchards
Why apple trees?
Apple trees can fix between 10-20 tonnes of C02 per acre every year and release 15 tonnes of oxygen. (Dr. Alan Lakso, Cornell University.) This compares with similar research which shows 2.5-4 tonnes of CO2 absorbed by broadleaved woodland. There is also the benefit of delicious fruit which we make into craft cider and apple juice through Oxford Farmhouse. The pomace left over from the pressing is fed to pigs.
When are trees planted?
The planting season for apple trees is Nov-March, but we prefer to plant earlier in that season to give the trees the maximum chance to succeed. A dry spring can be devastating to new trees, so giving them longer to get going is a good idea.
How do you plant?
We plant 2 year old feathered trees so that they establish well and fruit quickly. They are much more robust than 1 year whips that are usually used in offset programmes. We also plant the correct distance apart for a fully fruiting orchard, instead of densely packing & then having to remove some later as the trees get bigger.
What happens to the fruit?
Not only will these trees start absorbing carbon immediately, but they also produce apples from an early stage. Our carbon offset program is linked to Oxford Farmhouse, so that the fruit is used to make craft cider and apple juice with the help of the local community, and is then sold locally.
Is the project verified?
Projects in the UK can't be verified using international carbon offset verification, because the UK government has already set a carbon offset target. Our project would then be considered double accounting. More to follow later...
I have some land...
If you are interested in making some land available for planting, we need to plant a minimum of 10 apple trees. The type of rootstock we use depends on the soil quality and drainage. M26 is our preferred rootstock as it gives a strongly fruiting tree that doesn't grow above 10-12ft, making harvesting easier.
An M26 orchard would be planted with trees 3m apart, & rows with a 4.5m gap. This would give approximately 290 trees per acre. Or we can plant to your own design - our first planting was in triangles to make it less formal. A stronger rootstock would give larger trees & they would need to be spaced further apart.
In order to qualify as a carbon offset programme, we would need to have access to the land to prune the trees in the winter and pick the fruit in the autumn.