Winter Care of Fruit Trees

Tanja Folnovic

Agronomy Expert

Although the harvest is finished, there are still plenty of work in orchard. Autumn is perfect time to manage the orchard by preparing trees for winter and start thinking about next year’s bloom. It's also the time to look after the health of the tree.

Regular fall management ranges from monitoring for disease or pests to giving the trees food and water. A few simple practices will help the tree through the winter dormant period and ensure its vitality for spring flowering and fruiting:

  • Water – if there is low amount of precipitation during the late summer and fall, watering is an obligate measure. If the tree don't get enough water, its roots will be more susceptible to freeze entry.
  • Fertilizers – fertilizers with lower ratio of nitrogen and higher ratio of potassium and phosphorus should be applied, to replace nutrient deficit. Newly planted and young trees shouldn't be fertilized, to avoid their abundant growth before winter.
  • Weed - weeds around trunk should be removed or mowed, because it removes hiding places for insect pests that might be overwintering and for rodents that can chew the bark, especially on young trees.
  • Sanitation – remove any mummified fruit hanging on the branches. It may seems these fruits pose little threat, but they are carriers for disease. Also remove fallen and diseased fruits and branches from orchard and destroy them. Fallen leaves can be chopped to create a mulch.
  • Insulation – beneficial measure to tree roots of young plants and trees. It's done with leaves /compost, wood chips, pine needles, bark mulch, evergreen boughs or straw
  • Pruning - fruit trees should be pruned in the late winter, when the tree is dormant. A main pruning goal is to allow light into the central part of the tree, so the lower branches aren’t shaded by those above. Before the dormancy, weaker branches, those with fewer leaves or less fruit can be removed.
  • Pest protection - overwintering insects and their eggs are a common cause for concern in the orchard. The likes of aphids, red spider mite, scale insects and codling moth grubs can sit out winter by tucking themselves into the tiniest of nooks and crannies found within a tree's bark. For pest protection during the dormancy, spray with dormant oils based on the copper. A repeat spray can be applied at the end of winter, before budding of trees.This natural, plant oil-based treatment is highly effective at dramatically reducing pest numbers and by applying it at this time of year it will have minimal impact on other wildlife. Another preventative pest defence is the glue band, which stops egg-carrying moths from climbing up into the tree's branches from ground level. Tie the sticky bands securely around the trunk of each tree, glue-side facing outwards.

All activities on your farm and orchard you can track in Agrivi farm system – work hours of workers and mechanization for preparing your trees for dormancy, usage of fertilizers and pesticides per each field, spent money for buying of materials, cost-benefit analysis of whole farm production and weather forecast to plan ahead activities in orchard.

Prepare your trees for winter with Agrivi!


Source: Seattle Times