I’ve wanted an orchard ladder for a long time and I finally got one. They are also called fruit picking ladders or tripod ladders, but there are other tripod ladders out there that are not designed specifically as orchard ladders. The better orchard ladders are lightweight aircraft aluminum and the good manufacturers are just about all on the west coast. That makes it a problem if you are not located near a major fruit growing industry. These ladders are not available everywhere, and the shipping costs for a single ladder can be more than the cost of the ladder itself.
The ladder in the picture is made by a company called Tallman Ladders out of Hood River, Oregon. My internet searching had already convinced me Tallman was among the best ladders available, and when they responded to my quote request by telling me they had a dealer in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, I was pretty sure it was going to be a Tallman Ladder for me. I contacted the local dealer, whose family business is a cherry orchard, the ladders are a sideline. He quoted me a price that was almost $150 less than if I had a single ladder shipped from the west coast. The next day, I drove to the dealer, 16 miles away, and returned home with my new 10′ tripod ladder.
I got to try the ladder out Saturday afternoon and Sunday. I trimmed my two dwarf pear trees and started to work on my four dwarf apples. My only regret is that I did not buy one of these ladders 20 years ago. The footing with these is rock solid. There is no wobble at all, and the three point structure with a single pole third leg allows the user to get the ladder much closer to the work than with a standard four-point ladder. It makes the work of pruning, and I’m sure spraying, other tree maintenance and harvesting, easier, faster, and safer.
This ladder should last me the rest of my gardening career and I’m looking forward to spending much more time working on my fruit trees than I have in the past.