Ask a Question
Notify Me On Question Update
Email this Question
What tasks should I be doing now in my orchard?
Rate This FAQ
Although we may plan our lives by the calendar, Mother Nature has her own timing. Recent warm weather has caused fruit trees to bloom a little early this year. And despite the recent snow and cold, with any luck, a late freeze won’t put a damper on them. Gardeners should start planning now for orchard tasks. Consider these tips.
Pull out the pruning sheers. Although it is best to prune before trees begin to bloom and grow, it is still not too late. Most fruit trees can be pruned into May, if necessary. However, once trees leaf out and bloom, it becomes harder to see where to cut. Many people are afraid of pruning. Don’t be. The more you do it, the better you’ll get, and pruning normally does not kill a tree. The only pruning cut that does real damage is the one right at the base of the tree. When pruning, remember that you are not trying to stop growth, you are merely directing it. With this in mind, each time you make a cut, take a look to see where the tree will grow. Cut back to laterals and never leave a long stub.
Apply a dormant oil spray. This preventative spray smothers soft-bodied insects that can damage the tree. It controls scale, mites and aphids. A delayed dormant spray works best and needs to be applied right before the tree flowers or leafs out. Put it on just as a little tip of color appears on the buds, whether it is green leaves or flower petals poking out. It is important to apply it before either is completely extended or the oil spray will cause damage. The principle behind a dormant oil spray is to suffocate insects as they emerge in the spring. If applied too early, it may be gone or diluted by the time the insects come out. Dormant oil will not control codling moths, but it can reduce aphids and mites.
Clean weeds and other debris from the base of the tree. This may include removing grass if the tree is growing in the lawn. Remove all grass and other plant materials at least 2 feet away from the base of the tree (3 feet if possible). This helps prevent lawn mowers and weed eaters from damaging the tree and helps keep the crown dry. Protecting the tree’s base also helps the tree produce large, flavorful fruit.
Prepare for frost. If Mother Nature decides to give us a late frost, there isn’t much you can do to protect the fruit and flowers. If temperatures drop below about 25 F, enjoy the fireplace, have a cup of hot chocolate and get used to calling the apple tree a shade tree this year. However, a temperature of 29 F or above will only thin the tree a little, which might help reduce your work later on. Some gardeners have placed lights on the tree to protect the fruit and flowers from a late frost. Others place a heater under the tree and throw a sheet over the top to keep it warm. This works if the temperature is not too cold. It also gets you some strange looks from the neighbors.
Submit Your Suggestion
- I understand you have a service where you email spraying and care schedules to homeowners for home gardens and fruit trees. If so I would like to sign up. Please send me the info. Thanks, Mike
- When, how and what do I spray my apple, cherry and peach trees with? I have inherited 7 fruit trees and I have never grown fruit trees before.
Other Questions In This Topic
- I want to make a portion of my yard a 0scape environment. How do I prepare the area so that the grass/weeds to not take over? What tools will I need to make the soil acceptable? What time of year is best to plant new plants for this area?
- Why are my cherries wormy?
- I have an infestation of red ants in my retaining wall area where I also have plants. What is the best way to get rid of the red ants so I can weed etc. in that area?
- I sodded my back yard 3 years ago with RTF. It has not held up well, especially in the higher traffic areas where it is completely dead. Any suggestions?
- How late in the fall should I water trees and shrubs?
- Is it healthy for Kentucky Bluegrass to be kept at a cutting height of 2 inches if a reel mower (as opposed to a mower with rotary blades) is used?
- I have lived in a 50 year old home in Murray for 11 years. I have plants trees, bushes, perrenials, annuals, vegetables (nothing exotic). The trees seem to grow normal but a lot of the plants don't seem to grow much. They flower and look normal but not much growth. I have worked the ground a lot with mulch and commercial fertilizer but do not use manure or fish emulsion because my dog tries to eat it. What can I do to stimulate growth in my gardens?
- What herbicide/killer do we use to eradicate "salt cedar" & cheat grass??