The success of Colorado fruit trees begins with the fruit selection. Colorado fruit trees must be cold hardy in order to withstand the frigid winter months. Not every fruit tree is ideal for those winter days, but select varieties are ideal for the area. The climate can vary throughout the state, some trees are consistently ideal for all Colorado areas, such as the McIntosh apple, the Montmorency cherry and the Reliance peach.
Select a planting location. Choose a spacious, well-drained location that receives at least eight hours of daily sunlight and provides at least 12 feet of room between surrounding trees.
Prepare the location’s soil, by tilling, to loosen any compacted areas. Treat compacted, clay loams by thoroughly mixing in equal amounts of organic compost.
Plant the fruit tree in the late winter to early summer months while the tree is dormant. Soak the tree’s roots in tepid water for approximately 12 hours prior to planting.
Irrigate the fruit tree immediately after planting. Provide the tree with approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water. Irrigate the tree every 5 to 7 days using a slow irrigation. Adjust the irrigation levels for rainy or drought periods.
Begin feeding the fruit tree one year after planting. Use a well-balanced, slow release fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 combination. Feed the tree in the early spring just before bud break and again in midsummer.
Prune the tree annually to promote a strong framework. Promote good air circulation throughout the tree by thinning out interior branches. Complete the process using angular cuts to promote rapid healing.
Inspect the fruit tree regularly for signs of disease and insect infestation. Look wilted or browning foliage, blight flowers, sapping, or any other signs of distress. Treat the infected or infested tree immediately to prevent permanent injury to the tree.
Keep the fruit tree’s canopy and surrounding free of debris to reduce the potential for disease. Keep power equipment and lawn mowers away from the base of the tree to prevent damage and wounding of the trunk.
Harvest the tree as the fruit comes ripe. Pick the fruit over several days until all of the fruit has been removed. Avoid leaving fruit on the tree throughout the dormancy period as this will increase the potential for fungal and bacterial diseases.