Fruit Tree Planting & Care

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When planting fruit trees, make sure you have proper planting site, planting items and spray items.  By making sure that you plant and care for your fruit tree correctly, you will enjoy fruit for years to come. Follow these 7 steps for healthy trees and a bountiful harvest.

1. SELECT A SUFFICIENT PLANTING LOCATION.
Most trees will need full sun and moist, well drained soils.  Be sure to allow room for the fruit trees to spread.  If planting a single row of trees, plant trees 12-14’ apart.  If planting in a block, keep 20’ between rows with trees 12-14’ in the row.  This allows the trees to spread out and also allows for air movement around the trees, reduce chances of disease/fungus. 

2. FOLLOW PROPER PLANTING TECHNIQUES. 
Dig a hole 2-3 times as wide as the pot.  Mix 2/3 of the soil you just dug with 1/3 Bumper Crop and use this mixture for back fill.  Take the tree out of the container and gently loosen the roots slightly.  If the roots are very tight and compacted you can use a pruner or knife and make three vertical cuts about two inches into the roots to stop any circling root and help them to spread out.  Place the tree into the hole, making sure the bud union (the bulged area near the bottom of the trunk) is at least two inches ABOVE ground level (this should be the same as planting the tree with the top of root ball at soil level.)   If you do not do this for dwarf and semi-dwarf trees they will grow roots from the trunk and will not stay dwarf.  Then, back fill with the mixture of soil and Bumper Crop and pack firmly.  Form a small ‘dam’ around the outside of the planting area so water will stay and not run off.  We highly recommend using Esbenshade's Root Stimulator when first planting. It contains humid acid, which promotes root growth and reduces transplanting stress. 

3. WATER THOROUGHLY
Water the tree after planting and continue to water once a week through summer.  Place a hose at the base of the tree and let it trickle in for about twenty to thirty minutes.  This will allow water to soak the whole root area and penetrate the soil.  The following year you should not have to water the tree unless it is very dry.

4. SPRAY TREES
Spaying fruit trees is an important step towards obtaining a high yield of fruit.  It helps to deter insects and prevent disease. Follow this schedule for a bountiful harvest.

  • First spray – Dormant season (late February/early March)
    • Use dormant oil spray, for peaches also use copper fungicide to control peach leaf curl.
  • Second spray – (Peaches not needed) – sometime between green tip and flower buds showing color
    • Apply Bonide Fruit Tree and Plant Guard. (not in bloom - NEVER spray when a tree is blooming, to protect pollinating insects)
  • Third spray – When fruit is established and clearly visible. 
    • Apply another application of Bonide Fruit Tree and Plant Guard.
  • Next, spray 10 days after petal fall, then every 10-14 days until 2 weeks before harvest.
    • NOTE: See label for when last spray before harvest should occur.  We recommend Bonide Fruit Tree and Plant Guard.

 5. PRUNING
Follow the techniques below for the following types of trees:

  • Apples and Pears- Best to prune when they are dormant (usually in late Feb. early March.)  Prune lightly in summer to control aggressive growth and keep height in check.  Give the tree a somewhat pyramidal look, with layers of branching, and alternate positions as you move up layers.
  • Cherries- Best to prune cherries when the weather is hot (usually late May.)  DO NOT prune in winter or early spring as you make disease infestation much more likely.  Prune in end of May or early June.  The shape of the tree will be upright rounded.  Cherries usually keep their shape fairly well.  Place a net over berries close to harvest time to keep birds away.
  • Peaches and Nectarines- Prune in spring (Early May.)  These trees should have an open ‘bowl’ shape.  Pick out 3-4 main branches that are outward growing and cut off branches that are going to the middle
  • Plums- Prune in winter to take care of any broken branches and to shape up your tree.  It is probably easiest to shape in a vase shape similar to peaches.  Since plum are vigorous growers it is best to prune in summer to maintain the size. 

6. THINNING THE FRUIT
Pick off some fruit when they are small to encourage remaining fruit to grow larger, better quality fruit.

7. HARVEST
Harvest and enjoy your fruit.  By planting and maintaining correctly thru-out the life of the tree you will enjoy fruit for a long time.