orchard, generally an area on which fruit or nut trees are planted and cultivated. The words grove and plantation are often used when the fruits are tropical, e.g., a "citrus grove" or a "banana plantation." The distinction among the three terms arises from common usage rather than definition. The orchard of ancient times was a pleasure garden of formal design, often adorned with fountains and statuary. Today orchards are more commonly commercial ventures, sometimes covering many acres. Machinery is now often used for cultivating, spraying, picking, and packing. The ground beneath the trees may be kept clear, or cover crops may be grown, or the two practices may alternate. In young orchards it is usually possible to grow vegetables and berry fruits as cover crops in the rows between the trees, thus helping maintenance costs until the trees begin to bear.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.