Knowing when to fertilize fruit trees allows you to enjoy the best harvests year after year. In this post, Southern Tree Pros, Atlanta’s certified arborist, explains how to give your fruit trees the support they need.
Know When to Apply a Balanced Fertilizer
The best time to feed your tree depends on the type of tree, but most respond to spring feeding. Start applying the fertilizer just before bud break and continue into summer. However, you can stop adding nitrogen after July.
Test to See What the Tree Needs
The next step in knowing when to fertilize fruit trees is knowing what food they need. Using the wrong types of fertilizer, like too much nitrogen, might spur vegetative growth rather than budding. The best way to know for certain is to take soil samples.
Choose Your Fertilizer
Fruit trees tend to be heavy feeders that prefer a nitrogen-rich mix. Good natural sources include:
- Composted chicken manure
- Soybean meal
- Feather meal
- Cottonseed meal
- Blood meal
You can also use a purpose-built fertilizer for fruit trees. Bear in mind that nitrogen is just one vital nutrient. You can add compost during fertilization to provide more nutrients and trace minerals.
How Much Fertilizer Should You Use?
Knowing when to fertilize fruit trees starts with knowing how much food they need. This can prove complex because there are several factors to consider. You need to work out how much of the macronutrients each pound of fertilizer delivers and work from there.
Then you need to calculate how much your tree will need to see it through a bumper harvest. This figure will depend on the type of tree, its age, and its overall condition. Sampling the soil can help you see which nutrients you need more of at any time.
In this case, less is more. Over-feeding the tree will lead to vigorous growth but not in the areas where you want it. The tree will expend much of its energy in growing new leaves, leaving little energy to produce fruit.
Applying the Fertilizer
You cannot simply dump the fertilizer and hope for the best. Applying it all in one spot runs the risk of burning the sensitive feeder roots. Therefore, it’s better to spread it evenly from about a foot away from the trunk to the outer edge of the canopy.
Spread the product out and then rake it in lightly. If you have a little more time, you can dig small holes and drop the fertilizer into them. While this entails greater effort, it also ensures that the nutrients make their way to where the tree needs them the most. This is particularly important with nutrients that don’t dissolve as well in water, like mycorrhizae and phosphorus.
You should space the holes between 12 and 18 inches apart, in the same space between the trunk and outer canopy edge. Make each hole six inches deep and fill it with fertilizer.
Whether you rake in the product or dig holes, finish with an even layer of compost. Make it about an inch deep, and then water it well.
Call in a Professional
Do you feel overwhelmed by determining what nutrients to add? Are you unsure of how to proceed with taking and interpreting soil samples? We understand it’s a lot of information to process.
If you need help on how to maintain a healthy tree or when to fertilize fruit trees, we’re here to assist. Our team of certified arborists will do all the heavy lifting, leaving you to reap the rewards.
Contact Southern Tree Pros at (770) 841-1684 to schedule a consultation.