Fruit Tree Management in Summers
Summers are on its way and fruit trees in your orchards are gaining lots of new growth when we look at new shoots, blossom, in many fruit trees, fruits are setting and probably are sizing up nicely. This is the right time of the year to be on top of fruit tree care management so you can avoid pests, disease, and weather-changing related problems. We are giving some tips and suggestion to keep a check when managing your fruit trees this summer.
Inspection of orchards
Inspect your fruit tree branches, bark, leaves, and developing fruits regularly. Lookout if there are signs of insects and diseases and apply the appropriate organic controls. It’s usually easier to control pests if you act before or just as they are getting established, than to control them after they have caused lots of damage.
Check the moisture
Fruit trees need water to size up their fruit properly. It’s best to water deeply and infrequently rather than shallow and frequently (Check our recommended products). Water trees on sandy loam soils every 1 to 2 weeks providing enough water so it sinks 2 feet into the soil specially new planted trees. For young trees, make a moat around the base of the tree so the water stays in the root zone
Spread a 1- to 2-inch thick layer of organic mulch,serves a number of functions it provides moisture and nutrients to the tree. On younger trees, mulch reduces weed competition and keeps the soil moist longer, reducing the need to water. Organic mulch also breaks down gradually, providing organic matter to the soil.
Fertilizing and adding compost around the base of young fruit trees (few inches away from the trunk), is always a good for tree, any other fertilizing on a soil please test the soil pH and the growth of your tree. For example, for non-bearing apple trees, yearly shoot growth should be between 2 feet to 3 feet; for pear, 1feet to 2 feet; and for peaches, 1feet to 2 feet. In fruit-producing apple trees, shoot growth should be between 1feet to 2 feet; for pear, 6 to 12 inches; and for peaches, 1feet to 2feets. The soil pH for most fruit trees should be around 6.5 to 7.0. It’s best to apply fertilizer early in the summer season, do not apply in late summers.
Thinning if required
If fruit trees produce more fruit than the tree can support, tree will naturally shed some fruit during an early summer drop, you may need to be thinned more than nature does. Thinning fruits eliminates diseased or insect infested fruits, reduces fruit load, prevents branches from breaking during the summer from the heavy weight of the excessive fruits, and prevents alternate year bearing which is common on some fruit tree varieties, Leave the largest, healthiest looking fruit on the tree, and favor fruits located towards the outside and upper portions of the tree. You can be best judge or you can follow guideline for thinning the fruit tree .
Apricots and Cherries- Thin to 2 to 4 inches apart
Peaches and plums- Thin to 3 to 5 inches apart
Apples and Pears- Thin to one or two fruits per cluster, spaced 6 to 8 inches apart
Most of pruning of fruit trees is done in the late winter, some can be done in the summer as well. Summer pruning can eliminate any dead, diseased, or broken branches. We can also remove excessive vegetative growth and stimulate more fruit bud initiation. Before midsummer, prune off any new branches that are growing from the base of the tree (suckers) or straight up from horizontal branches (water sprouts), these branches won’t form fruits and will tend to crowd other branches, increasing the incidence of disease and insect problems.
Keep the base of your fruit trees weed free, in summers fruit trees is in setting stage the weeds and grass under the tree is also growing at a high speed due to fertilizers and mulching, weeds and grass should be removed from time to time as it will consume most part of the fertilizers and pests, insects etc will climb up through the long grass and can damage the fruits on the tree.
On young fruit trees, encourage strong branch or crotch angles by spreading the branches. Branches spread to a 45 degree angle or greater with the trunk will be stronger and produce less vegetative growth and more fruit. You can use wooden spreaders placed between narrow-angled branches to slowly force them apart, or tie them to ends of smaller branches needing to grow more horizontally. After one year the branches will be naturally be growing at the right angle and the spreaders can be removed.
Mature fruit trees need support, as the size of fruit increases it put pressure on the branches where fruit setting is high, summer is the right time to provide support to the branches, so that it doesn’t damage the tree and crop as it reaches harvest.