Small farm plan

Asked October 30, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT

Hello, I just purchases 20 acres in east texas, Collin County. The soil is black clay, Houston black. I do not yet have a soil test, but will do so to determine the pH. I would like to plant an orchard and am searching for information on the best way to do this (including layout, spacing, varieties). I would like to plant this winter while everything is dormant. I have found information on some varieties of the trees I am interested in that will do the best. I am interested in fruit trees and possibly a small vineyard (muscodine). The land is flat and open, full sun. Is there a best way to orient the trees, should I clump like species together? Thanks! Looking forward to the help

Collin County Texas

1 Response

One of the things you need to consider before the specifics of planting fruit trees, is whether your soil texture presents a problem. Most fruit trees will struggle in heavy soils that do not have adequate internal drainage. Houston Black Clay is one of those problematic soil types. We recommend conducting a percolation test--30 inch hole, 10 inches in diameter. Fill with water and assess the time required for water to drain out completely. Ideally, soils should drain water in less than 36 hours. Failure to do so will result in problems. Raised beds/berms or hill culture is suggested if your internal drainage is slow.
Collin County is suitable for a number of tree fruits--peaches, apples, pears, plums, etc, although late spring freezes affect fruit trees more in north Texas than central or south.
Review information on our website: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/fruit-nut for crop specific recommendations. Fruit trees need water and sunlight, in addition to well-drained soils. Your local county AgriLife extension office may provide additional help in this area. They can be reached at http://collin.agrilife.org/contact/