Care for Fruit Trees
Fruit tree care is a relatively simple process. Fruit trees are non-fastidious plants that can adapt to various soil types and environments. Though these trees are flexible with their soil requirements, they must have ample amounts of water, well drained soil and lots of sunlight to thrive and grow.
Water your tree regularly during the growing season, especially during the dry summer months. Young fruit trees require at least 5 gallons of water each week. While older trees can withstand longer periods of drought than younger trees, they still require at least 3 to 5 gallons of water per week. Increase your tree’s watering schedule when there is little to no rain. Decrease the watering schedule during the rainy periods of spring and summer.
Prune your newly planted growing tree often to develop its shape. Trim back low hanging branches. Remove damage or dying branches and twigs from the tree. Prune the tree’s leader to ensure that the tree grow upright. Leaders that grow at angles or tilts will cause the entire tree to grow at that angle. Mature trees that have been properly shaped and trained will require limited pruning. Still, be certain to prune away damaged or broken limbs.
Fertilize your fruit tree generously during its growing season. Use a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen during the early spring and throughout the summer months. Reduce the tree’s nitrogen intake during the late fall using a fertilizer that contains an equal balance of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. This will help the tree prepare for the winter months and its anticipated growing season.
Inspect your fruit tree regularly for mites, aphids and other pests that can cause damage. Look at the tree’s trunk, branches, foliage and fruit to ensure that there are no signs of insects or disease. Diseased and infested trees will show symptoms on their leaves, branches and base. If you find that the tree is infected, treat the tree immediately with a fungicide or insecticide that meets the tree's needs. Speak with your local nursery or horticulturalist for assistance. It is a good idea to spray your tree with an insecticide in early spring. This will prevent drastic infestations that could damage the growing fruit.
Harvest your tree as the fruit ripens. Most fruit trees do not have a specific harvesting time. Still, most fruit trees will complete the ripening process during the late summer or early fall. To ensure that you do not miss the harvesting season, inspect the fruit daily toward the end of the growing season. When the fruit appears to be ripened, pick a few pieces and complete a taste test. If the fruit that you have tasted is ripened, harvest the fruit that is the same size or larger. Some trees, such as apples, cherries and oranges will require a daily harvesting until all the fruit has been removed. Remove any fallen fruit from around the tree’s base. As the fruit decays around the tree, it can promote disease and insect infestations that can be harmful to the tree.