Care & Maintenance of New Fruit Trees
Planting Your Fruit Trees by Hand
Site preparation is important. Rows and the spacing of trees within each row should be marked before planting. If fertilizer is being used, it should be applied and worked into the soil before plant holes are dug and the plants are placed into the soil. Do not overfertilize.
Place each tree in the hole with the base of the stem two to five centimetres deeper than it was in the shipping container. Plant roots should be disturbed as little as possible and should not be allowed to dry out. The roots should be slightly spread and facing downwards. If the roots are tightly packed, lightly slit with a clean, sharp utility knife. Do not overhandle the roots.
Replace the soil around each tree and pack firmly to remove all potential air pockets. Water immediately afterward at a rate of one to two litres (0.25 to 0.5 gallons) per tree. Water at this same rate every two to three days for the first two weeks, then switch to two to four litres (0.5 to one gallon) every week, taking precipitation into account.
The use of mulch is strongly recommended, and it should be applied immediately after transferring plants into the soil.
Ensure that trees are kept free of weeds, diseases and insects. Monitor and record conditions in your orchard regularly to avoid problems. Until the roots are established, ensure your trees receive adequate water.
Planting Your Fruit Trees by Mechanical Planter
Site preparation one year before planting is essential for all shelterbelt plantings.
Stake the rows prior to planting to ensure trees are planted at recommended distances. This allows for easier planting and maintenance.
The tree planter should be pulled by a tractor with a minimum of 40 horsepower. The planter opens a furrow into which a tree is lowered. Ensure the roots are not bent. If there is insufficient room for the roots, adjust the furrow opener on your machine.
Plant the tree at the same depth as it was grown at the nursery. Lower the plant into the furrow immediately behind the furrow opener, at a 45 degree angle towards the mechanical tree planter and the packing wheel. Hold onto the plant until soil falls in around the roots as it progresses towards the packing wheel. Release the tree when it is held by the soil. The packing wheels will pull the tree into an upright position.
The speed of the tractor and the planter's rhythm will control the spacing of the treess. Spacing can be gauged by a mechanical beeper or by dragging a light chain behind the planter with a flag attached at the recommended distance. Plant a tree when the flag passes the previous plant.
Have someone walk behind the planter to pack the soil around each plant, to cover the roots if necessary, or to uncover buried trees.
Hardening off Your Plants
Plants that come straight from our greenhouse have been grown in a controlled environment and protected from outdoor conditions such as wind, direct sunlight, dry air and cold temperatures. A transition period, or a hardening off period, is necessary to allow plants to adjust and acclimatize to outdoor growth conditions. For better survival rates, tender greenhouse plants should be exposed to outdoor conditions gradually.
The term "hardening" refers to any treatments that result in a firming of or hardening of plant tissue. Such a treatment reduces the growth rate, thickens the cuticle and waxy layers on leaves, reduces the percentage of freezable water in the plant and often results in a pink color in stems, leaf veins and petioles. Hardened plants often have smaller and darker green leaves than non-hardened plants.
To harden off your plants, place them in a sheltered, shady spot outdoors for between two to four hours each day, depending on the sun's intensity. If night time temperatures are near or below freezing, be sure to bring your plants indoors overnight. After a week of this practice, your plants should be sufficiently hardened to handle a full day of sun and the cooler nighttime temperatures. Plants are ideally transferred outside on a cloudy day, and they should be watered thoroughly once planted.
The length of time needed for the hardening off process is mostly dependent on night time temperatures and the amount and intensity of day time sun exposure.
Suggested Row Spacing
(1 m) min
(5 - 6 m)
(1 - 1.5 m)
(3.5 - 4 m)
(1.5 - 2 m)
(2.5 - 3 m)
(1.5 - 2 m)
* Actual spacing will be determined by width of machinery, availability of land and method of harvest *
** A slight variation in spacing can dramatically affect number of plants per acre and subsequently total yield **
How to Calculate Number of Trees Per Acre
|Space Between Rows|