Seems like it is getting more difficult to get through the Rich Order Board and people are asking, "Is it worth it?".
Getting the Orchard
The level one orchard is in county 14 so it is quite possible to achieve. The level two orchard is in county 45 so it is quite a long process to get it (i have not and can't find info on that so hopefully others can add).
To get through the map pages you have to upgrade your river boat:
Here is what it looks like:
Using the Orchard
1. Trees you don't yet have access to at your level are locked until you reach that level.
2. Fertilizer, speed-grow, and pruning requirements are the same as regular trees on the farm but the counter for fertilizer and speed-grow only go to 99 so if you have more than 99 the counter will not show your use of those items; using those items when you have more than 99 looks like they are not being taken from your inventory but they are in fact being consumed.
3. Mastery is the same as for regular trees: 1 point for a non-heirloon, non-fertilized tree; 2 points for a non-heirloom, fertilized tree; 4 points for a heirloom tree, fertilized or not.
Pros and Cons
Whether or not getting the orchard is worth the effort depends on how you play the game. If you are playing the rich order board, it definitely helps with that. If you are competing in the national (or county) fair and the various quests, there is no specific benefit. It's definitely handy.
- Saves space: uses 7x7 grid spaces.
- Saves water: 2 water for any non-heirloom tree; 1 water for any heirloom tree.
- You get one of each tree you are currently able to buy in the store (others are locked) so you can avoid buying trees you are not going to use very often.
- Harvested trees, both regular and heirloom, drop one rich product every time, with or without fertilizer.
- Harvested heirloom trees do not drop prize fruits for additional mastery and fair points.
- Harvested trees do not drop kindling so you cannot use the orchard to help compete in the fair (by crafting). When harvesting, there is a notice a kindling was dropped (see image below) but there is no additional kindling actually placed in your inventory.
- You only get one of each tree. When heirloom trees are used up there is no elder tree that goes to your inventory, the tree just reverts to a non-heirloom form in the orchard. So you can't build capacity for specific trees when you need a lot of produce from those trees (e.g., for market or quests).
- A lot of time and resources needed to get there!
- Selling heirloom products from trees such as vitex (4 flowers @ $1,100 each) can be an easy and inexpensive, but slow, way to raise extra money.
- When first placing the orchard, you may be able to rotate it (i was) but not after it is placed (i was also able to place it in a corner where it took only 4 grid spaces, the rest overlapping areas i had not even opened, so you can try that too before actually placing).