Lawn and Garden
FRUITS OF YOUR LABOR
Most people plant fruit trees and expect good production. In my experience people lump their fruit trees as part of the landscape and do not consider the fertilization needs to support high fruit production. Fruit trees should be considered separate from the rest of the landscape when it comes to cultural inputs. Fruit trees, especially deciduous ones like peach, plum, blueberry and pear, will begin their spring growth before the rest of the landscape. Once their ‘chilling hour’ requirements have been met they will break dormancy and begin to grow. They normally show signs of growth in February but the rest of the landscape will generally stay at rest until March. Fertilizer should be in place to help support the new growth on the trees. Plants in production generally like to be fed often but lightly unlike the rest of the landscape which can be fed seasonally. To meet the fertilization needs of citrus trees consider using a product formulated just for citrus. By following the label instructions it can help to solve the guesswork on when and how much to feed. These are available at most plant outlets. Thinning of fruit is a required practice if you expect to have quality fruit. Most individuals will let all the fruit that sets remain on the tree. This will cause the plant to produce seedy fruit with little meat. The trees purpose is to reproduce by making seed while our purpose is to have tasty fruit. An example on peach trees is to allow only one fruit ever 4-6 inches along the stem. Immature citrus often try to bear heavily and the result is dried cells within the fruit. Fruit trees have higher water requirements once they have set fruit and it is expanding. After harvest, fruit trees generally need less water for they are not in a heavy growth cycle. Most people irrigate their fruit trees along with the rest of the landscape and this can lead to pest problems, particularly disease issues. A fruit tree needs plenty of sunlight to produce a good crop. Peach trees have specific pruning requirements. Blueberries flower best on second year growth so annual pruning is needed to eliminate older less productive branches. Citrus has minimal pruning needs but dead sections on branches should always be removed once noted. If you have fruit trees in your landscape know their special needs so they will bear abundantly.