Fruit Trees require care throughout the year in order to provide a great harvest in the fall or summer months. In addition to pruning back any damaged branches and protecting your trees from pests it is important to promote a healthy root system by watering and feeding during the dry season.
Most trees can survive a normal drought but when the summer heat is harsh and you haven’t seen rain for a while your fruit trees will probably need some extra care. Unlike other trees your fruit trees put a lot of energy into producing your harvest. This requires a large amount of water and food that is turned into the sugars in your fruit. When water is short you may find that your trees stop producing or that your harvest is bitter and the fruit is smaller then normal.
Trees should have a deep root system but improper watering can cause harm to its development. When you water your trees for only a short period of time the soil will only get wet near the surface of the soil. When this happens the roots will begin searching for water and instead of developing a strong deep tap root smaller roots will form near the surface of the soil.
When your tree does find water with its surface roots it will require that you water more often. Your tree will not be able to harvest natural water that remains in the soil at deeper depths. It will also weaken the root system and in a storm you have a higher probability that the tree will become uprooted in high wind.
To allow water to penetrate deeply you need to have uncompacted soil around the base of the tree. Soil should be undisturbed to an area as far out as its longest branch. Walk around the tree looking up and mark the outside area of the foliage with a small amount of garden lime. You should never park cars, place picnic benches, dog houses or playsets or any other items that will cause high traffic or heavy weight in this perimeter.
If you have compacted soil under your fruit tree you will need to till or turn the dirt. Once prepared you can cover the area with about 2 inches of wood mulch or allow grass to grow. Don’t worry about grass or weeds because their root systems only penetrate the soil about 6 inches.
Watering Fruit Trees
Watering should approximate the water a tree would get naturally from rainfall. In your area it probably does not rain every day so you do not need to water every day. And when it does rain you can expect moderate rainfall for a few hours.
This is how you should apply water to your tree. Place a sprinkler on low under the tree and allow it to water the tree for a few hours. Make sure you are not wasting water by overspraying on to the street or driveway and if you find pools of water reduce the flow and inspect the soil for compaction.
The idea is less water for a longer period of time will allow the water to penetrate deep into the ground.
Some farmers even install watering rods that are inserted a few feet into the ground then water is injected slowly.
Over watering can also cause problems so only water once a week or twice if your tree is showing signs of damage.