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Looks like I have about 2 acres of cedar trees on a southwest facing slope. If I clear all this land and open it up can I start an orchard (apple and cherry) on it right away or will I need to do something to the soil first. I have heard that nothing grows under cedar trees but not sure if it's because of all the shade or it the dead needles actually do something to the soil. Anyone here ever done this?

What other things should I check for before investing in all this?

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  • Will apples, and cherries grow on cedar stumps? Jun 4 '16 at 20:40
  • "Cedar" is a very vague description. There are members of at least three very different families of trees with the common name "cedar," and for some species the sawdust is allergenic. Get some professional advice before you do anything.
    – alephzero
    Jun 4 '16 at 22:27
  • These are red hearted aromatic cedars. Jun 5 '16 at 3:13
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    So, presumably salable timber.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 5 '16 at 13:52
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As with any other agricultural endeavor (especially of large and or potentially for profit nature) start with soil tests, before you even cut a single tree, unless you are doing that anyway. Since you are investigating at the "thinking of investing" stage, either get the current owner/seller to do the testing, or arrange permission for doing your own testing (and refuse to share the results unless the costs are also shared.)

Depending where it is there may be a tendency to acidity, some from the needles, some simply from not being limed, if in an area prone to going acid if not regularly limed. Apples will take a fair degree of acidity, but have a preferred range that's closer to neutral. Your local agricultural extension service office should have plenty of information on what apples and cherries like, general advice on their success as a crop in your area, and soil testing services. According to your profile: http://extension.osu.edu/lao

Be aware of larger terrain issues - aside from the direction of the slope, not being at the bottom of the slope is generally advisable for orchards to avoid "frost pockets" cause by cold air drainage down the slope. You may need to take particular care against "southwest injury" or sunscald, but it's just something to be aware of, not a reason to avoid the site.

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  • We bought the land a few months ago. We plan to build a house there on about 7 wooded acres in a few years. The cedars gotta go. They are 40 to 50' tall and only the top 20' has green on it. The rest is a fire hazard as far as I'm concerned. Would like to find a better use for the land that will help me survive. Jun 4 '16 at 19:09
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    Um, that's rather normal for a forest (as opposed to suburban) tree. Nothing extraoidinarily fire-hazardous about it. Perhaps add a forester/arborist to your "people to consult with before diving off anywhere." Extension might lead you to one of those, too.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 4 '16 at 21:18
  • Absolutely listen to Ecnerwal...please. To have these cedars on your property is an honor. If you feel the need to do anything have the trees that might hit your home thinned so wind can move through the foliage. At the same time get an arborist to check your trees for their health... and help you fall in love with the "natives". Seriously. This is the beauty of the real world. This is why one gets out of the cities to relearn the language of the natural world, how to blend in and stop trying to control everything Lots of better ways to mitigate burnables and fire dangers. Lucky you.
    – stormy
    Jun 8 '16 at 9:00
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Since the trees are a fire risk, and the ground is sloping, this implies to me that you're at risk of soil erosion if you remove all the trees with out doing something to protect it. And rain water strategies need to be developed to stop all the water running off the land if the roots aren't there to soak it up.

I'd get advice from an experienced permaculture designer who can then do the soil tests, design any swales, and ponds that you might need, and other ways to keep the land as productive as it can be.

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  • We will leave the stumps in until we can do a proper grade. Jun 6 '16 at 20:21

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