Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Fruit Tree Care Guide

Pollination and Fruit Set:
Fruiting trees require pollination and seed development in order for fruit set to occur. Most fruits, including apples, sweet cherries, pears, plums and apricots, require cross pollination from another cultivar. Some varieties are self-pollinating, but will have improved pollination when there are multiple cultivars available. Also, apples cannot pollinate pears, and pears cannot pollinate plums, pollinators must be from the same fruit type.

Why won’t your established fruit trees set fruit? There are many possible reasons for lack of fruit set, including:
• Late spring frost 
• Heavy rains during bloom interfering with pollen distribution and insect activity 
• Disease
• Poor plant nutrition 
• Poor site conditions 
• Lack of a compatible cultivar for cross pollination 
Apples: to guarantee adequate cross pollination, plant at least three different cultivars.

Where and How to Plant Your Fruit Tree: Light: 
Plant your fruit tree in a location where it will receive at least a half day of full sun. 

Soils: Fruit trees prefer well drained fertile soil. If you have heavy clay soil, work in 1/2 peat/compost, this will help improve drainage. You can build a mound or berm with trucked-in top soil in which to plant your trees. Planting with MYKE Mycorrhizae* will stimulate the growth of new roots and increase nutrient and water absorption from the soil, improving growth rate, flower/fruit production and drought tolerance.

Spacing: All of our fruit trees are dwarf or semi-drawf. Plant them a minimum of 15 feet apart, maximum of 100 feet apart. This spacing eliminates competition for the sun, and provides good air circulation, which helps to reduce insect pests and diseases.

Fertilizing: A couple of weeks after planting, fertilize your fruit trees using Tree Tone*. Lightly scratch the granular fertilizer into the soil, in a two- foot radius around the trunk. Avoid getting the fertilizer directly against the trunk.

Care and Maintenance:
Fruit bearing trees are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases. The following suggestions can help you manage your fruit plantings with fewer pest/disease issues.
• Inspect your fruit trees (weekly). 
• Prune out dead twigs and branches during the dormant season. 
• Rake up and destroy leaves/diseased fruit after harvest. 
• Use dormant oil spray* (also known as Horticultural Oil/Four Season Oil) in late winter/early spring (late Feb/early March), when temperatures are above 50° F. Dormant oil controls the egg and larval stages of many insects. It will not work on adult insects. 
• To avoid fungal diseases, spray your fruit trees with an all purpose fungicide such as Fungonil* at bud break. Bud break is when you see up to 1/2 inch of green on the buds. Continue to spray on a monthly basis during the grow- ing season. Stop fungicide sprays 3 weeks prior to harvesting.

• Annual pruning keeps trees productive. Apple, pear and cherry trees are best trained to a central leader. Peach, plum and apricot trees should be trained into a vase shape (no central leader).
• If your fruit tree sets fruit the first year, pick off the immature fruit, allowing the energy to go into the root and vegetative growth.
• Apples and Pears: prune when they are dormant.
• Cherries: prune when the weather is hot (to avoid bacterial diseases that are present in cool dry weather)
• Peaches and Apricots: prune in early spring, right after the last frost
• Plums: Plums are aggressive growers, so prune both in winter while they are dormant and also in summer to help contain their vigorous growth.
• For additional information about pruning, go to www.hollybrookorchards.com

Vole and Deer Protection:
• Protect your tree trunks from damage by wrap- ping them with trunk protectors.* Make sure the trunk protector is adequately perforated for air circulation and does not directly touch the bark.
• Keep deer from eating the tender branches of newly planted fruit trees by using Liquid Fence.*

• Allow fruit to ripen on the tree if you wish to attain the fullest flavor. 
• If you are planning to store your apples or pears, harvest before they are fully ripe. 
• Only store fruit that is in excellent condition, never any diseased or damaged fruit.

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