Fruit trees are among the useful garden plants and give us good fruit. The use of modern technology, combined with proper maintenance, allow for good productions in terms of both quality and quantity. If these plants are exposed to diseases, notably fungal attack, there currently exist treatments that, if used as preventive measures, can bring good results.

Fruit trees are grown on land exposed to the sun, but some varieties prefer semi-shady exposure. Varieties of Mediterranean origin, such as citrus fruits, should be stored away in winter.

Knowing the fruit trees’ periods of planting

If the main seasons for cultivation are fall and spring, planting times depend on the conditioning of seedlings. The uprooting of subjects in roots or clumps occurs during dormancy. Also, planting takes place from September to October or in April-May. Planting of seedlings in containers can take place year-round except during cold weather when the ground is frozen. However, summer planting is not recommended because the plants experience the combined stress of planting with that of summer drought.

Planting fruit trees

The first step in planting is the plant’s preparation by trimming on the day of planting. Plants with bare roots should not be stored in the open air. If planting is not carried out on the day of purchase, they can be placed in temporary ditches. For subjects in containers, the root ball must be thoroughly soaked by being immersed in lukewarm water for one hour. The planting hole is prepared several days in advance, making sure its size is large enough to promote the spreading of the roots. It will then be loosened and enriched with an organic amendment to provide nutrients. Planting of seedlings in containers consists of removing the plant from its pot before placing it in the hole. The soil around the root ball should be brought back and checked to ensure there are no air bubbles. For plants in lumps, set the root ball in the hole, undoing the knot of the net and the metal shell. The soil around the root ball will be returned in full, making sure not to over pack it. Plants with bare roots will be coated with a fertilizing mix in advance, before being placed in the hole with the neck at ground level. Be sure to spread out the roots and bring back soil around the hole, lightly packing down the ground. To finish the planting of a young tree with bare roots, seal the hole, and drench it with about 2.5 gallons of water. Planting will be followed by staking to keep the tree upright during its early growth.

Maintaining fruit trees

Maintenance is intended to keep the tree in good health and ensure a good harvest. It consists of improving the ground by soil amendment, plant watering, pruning, tipping and thinning. Soil improvement includes the annual plowing around each foot after harvest. This operation is designed to air out the soil, stimulate microbial life and to facilitate the penetration of water into the ground. At this time, the removal of weeds and soil enrichment can also be carried out by the spreading of a slow-release fertilizer or ashes. Watering in summer must be done regularly, at a rate of once per week. This frequency can be brought down to once every other day during heat waves. Mulching helps the soil retain its moisture while preventing weed growth. Pruning is an important technique for maintaining fruit trees. It aims to promote sunlight penetration and ventilation of the tree shaft while accelerating fruiting. Shape pruning is done in the first year of growth and aims at promoting diameter growth. Maintenance pruning is done annually to preserve existing buds. Rejuvenation pruning is applied to fruit trees that have been left untended for several years. The nipping of vigorous twigs aims to reduce their preponderance by puncturing a lot of sap. This causes a decrease in the flow of sap and the occurrence of a bud on the top branch. Concerning the peach tree, pear tree and apple tree, the thinning of crowded fruits is essential. It involves removing excess, crowded fruit to promote the growth of the remaining fruit.

Practical advice for obtaining a healthy orchard

Maintenance also includes disease control and prevention. There is no cure for diseases caused by fungi, such as blisters. Also, preventive spraying using Bordeaux mixture is recommended once the leaves have fallen and the buds start to appear. Treatment should be done in the absence of rain and outside periods of frost.  Maintenance of the orchard during winter consists of collecting dead leaves to reduce the risk of disease. In effect, this eliminates fungal spores and insect pests. Brushing the trunk is an effective method to eliminate insect larvae and mosses.

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Published in Trees and shrubs by on 04 Jul 2011