Plum tree.

How To Prepare Fruit Trees For Spring

Excerpted from: Preparing Your Fruit Trees for Spring
Excerpted from: Tips For Spring Fruit Care

  No matter what climate you are in, there are still some preparations to be made that can provide successful growth for your fruit trees in the year ahead.

Spring is coming, even if it doesn’t feel like it with low temperatures that may occur. Now is the perfect time to prepare your fruit trees for the warmer temperatures and a productive growing season.

Here are our top 6 tips for early spring fruit tree care.

1. Test your soil.

Tree protected by wood chip mulch.

The first step should be is to test your soil and your fruit trees and measure its pH level. If the soil isn’t at the right pH level, it’s best to make adjustments now rather than later.

Fruit trees seem to perform at their best in soil that is somewhere between 6.0 and 6.5 pH. This means, even a slight change in your soil could yield larger, more succulent fruit.

Late winter is a good time to apply conditioners to the soil. Additives such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium need time to be absorbed and spread evenly throughout the soil. Applying them weeks before the growing season is the best bet to allow the roots to properly take in the different nutrients.

Getting Your Soil Tested

The University of Wisconsin Soil and Lab provides soil testing to Wisconsin residents.

To submit a sample, complete the Lawn and Garden Information Sheet. The cost is $15 per sample.

Your sample will be analyzed for pH, organic matter, available phosphorous (P) and available potassium (K). Based on the results of your test and what you told them you wish to grow in the sample area, they will tell you if you need to add nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) or potassium (K) to achieve your goal of growing these plants.

2. Finish any last minute pruning.

Prune back any dead branches and overgrowth from your fruit trees while making sure to not remove more than 1/3 of the canopy. Ensure that branches have efficient air-flow in between and remove any overlapping branches.

Read more: Spring Tree Pruning

3. Weeding.

Warmer weather brings growth of all kinds, including the pesky weeds. It’s time to start removing all unwanted competing growth near all of your fruit trees and shrubs.

4. Mulching.

Tree protected by wood chip mulch.

After weeding, adding a nice layer of mulch is essential to keep those weeds from growing and to help insulate the ground for controlled moisture.

Read more: Mulch Basics

5. Pest control.

It is recommended to spray trees with dormant oil spray, neem oil, or alternate organic fungicides right before bud break to keep any pests or disease development at bay.

Neem Oil is made from the seeds of the neem tree and has been used for thousands of years. Neem oil has been deemed non-toxic; safe for humans and mammals, biodegradable, and when applied properly, will not harm birds, bees, butterflies, ladybugs, or earthworms.

When leaf tips emerge, spray the tree thoroughly, rake the ground beneath the tree, and use a soil drench. When flower buds are pink and closed, spray the tree again. Once the flowers open, you’ll need to stop spraying. Wait 3 weeks and then spray every two weeks until a week before harvest.

6. Grafting.

Grafting is performed best before bud break so be sure to graft any cuttings onto root stock in early spring to ensure enough time for the tree to fuse and develop.

Read more: How To Graft Fruit Trees
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