Taking care of your fruit trees is important to their fruit yield and overall health. Here are a few tips on what your fruit trees need.
Fruit trees that are bought in containers can be planted year-round! All they need is well-prepared soil and water. Choose a spot that will get plenty of sun. Dig a hole for your tree about one and a half times larger than but just as deep as the container. Planting your fruit tree at the same depth as it was in the container ensures proper integration into its new environment. Remove the tree from the container and immediately place in the ground so the roots do not dry out. Gently backfill the hole with a mixture of half soil and half peat moss by tapping it in around the roots. Deeply water your tree to settle the soil. We also recommend using a root stimulator as prescribed by our staff.
Caring for your Fruit Tree
Make sure to deep water your fruit trees to help the roots grow deeply and get all the nutrients they need. Consult an expert at Jericho Nursery to determine how often your fruit tree needs water. Feeding should be kept to a minimum; most fruit trees only need to be fed at the beginning of the year. However, if you have sandy soil, it may be helpful to feed your tree once or twice during the growing season. Fertilizing is best done on a monthly basis, from March until harvest. Make sure to fertilize on wet ground at least eighteen inches away from the roots and spread it past the drip line of the canopy. If you have an older tree, it may need more fertilizing than a younger tree. Pruning should be done in the late winter or early spring. Prune your trees lightly; they need a strong network of branches which can be hindered by excessive pruning.
Several of your fruit trees might need to be paired with pollinators. Below are a list of trees and their ability to self-pollinate:
Apple: plant two varieties of apple trees near one another. Golden Delicious and Jonathon apples are ideal pollinators because they are self-pollinating.
Apricot: Apricots are self-pollinating, thus, they do not need other trees planted with them
Cherries: Sour cherries do not need a pollinator, but trees such as the Montmorency Cherry are good pollinators for sweet cherries, which cherries need a pollinator. Black Tartarian trees are popular pollinators for Bing cherries.
Peach: generally, peach trees do not need cross-pollination. However, the J.H. Hale strain should be planted with another peach tree.
Pear: Plant at least two pear varieties together. However, Bartlett and Seckel pears will not cross-pollinate with one another.
Plum: Plums need pollinators to produce fruit. The Santa Rosa is a recommended variety for cross-pollination.
Standard fruit trees are the largest. Their canopies can span 20-30 feet. Semi-dwarf trees have 10 to 15-foot canopies. The smallest fruit trees are dwarf sized, which grow no larger than 10 feet. Various trees will bear fruit at different ages. Peach trees yield fruit two to four years after planting. Apple, apricot and sour cherries bear fruit after three to five years. Pear and plum produce a crop after four to six years, and sweet cherries take the longest, at five to seven years. These are for standard sized trees. Dwarf trees may produce fruit sooner than this.
Insects and Diseases
It is important to protect your trees from insects and diseases. In the late winter or early spring, take time to spray your fruit trees with dormant spray. After the tree has dropped fifty percent of its blooms, spray a second time with fruit spray. Follow this ten and twenty days later with two more sprays of the same spray. You can continue to spray your trees every two weeks, stopping 7-21 days before the harvest, depending on the strain of tree. For pear and plum trees, stop at seven days before. Stop two weeks before for apples and cherries. Peaches are the earliest; stop spraying 21 days before harvest.