A Guide to Fruit Tree Care in Ohio
Our fruit trees are an important part of our landscape, family, and lifestyle. Caring for fruit trees can seem tricky, but in many ways, it is like caring for many other types of trees. With the right precise care and attention, we can help you create a healthy environment for your fruit trees to thrive. At Ahlum & Arbor, we understand the importance of cultivating a thriving orchard. In this blog, we will explore the essential steps and tips for taking care of your fruit trees in Ohio, ensuring a fruitful harvest and the longevity of your precious trees.
Ohio’s climate can be unpredictable, so it is vital to establish a consistent watering routine. Deep, infrequent watering is preferable to shallow, frequent watering. The main goal is to keep the soil moist during the growing period while avoiding standing water around the trunk. When watering your trees, make sure to water at the base of the tree instead of overhead methods, such as overhead sprinklers.
Overhead watering tactics will wet the foliage, in turn often causing disease and fungal issues. Another tactic that could be used is drip irrigation. Drip irrigation will allow water to continuously supply the roots and avoid wetting the foliage.
If foliage is constantly wet, fungal issues and diseases could cause defoliation of the leaves and a loss of nutrients. Leaves are an important part of producing energy for the tree, so it is important to allow them to do their job without constant water blockage.
We recommend mulching around the base of your fruit trees to help them retain moisture and regulate soil temperature. Mulch also creates a physical barrier to help avoid hitting the trunk with a lawn mower or string trimmer. When mulching around your tree, make sure to leave a few inches without mulch near the trunk so the root flare can remain exposed. For more information on tree planting and mulching, refer to our fact sheet.
Pruning is a factor in fruit tree care that is often overlooked, but crucial for the health and productivity of your fruit trees. Regular pruning helps eliminate dead or diseased branches, promotes better air circulation, and shapes the tree for optimal growth. Maintenance pruning is typically done once a year to keep the tree growing in the right shape and prevent structural weaknesses. Typically, you want to perform maintenance pruning while the tree is dormant, during winter months, as the removal of dormant buds will invigorate the remaining buds.
Removing limbs in the winter can stimulate growth where the pruning cut is made and provide more sunlight to lower branches during the growing season. In short, branches exposed to the sun will bear more fruit than ones shaded out.
“About 20% of last year’s growth should be removed on an apple, pear, plum or fig tree, while about 50% of last year’s growth should be removed on peaches and nectarines” (University of California, 2023).
Fungicide Sprays and Pesticides
Vigilance is key in protecting your trees from pests and diseases. Regularly inspect your trees for signs of trouble, as pests and disease provide another layer of stress for your tree. However, not every bug on a tree is cause for concern. There are many beneficial insects that are predators to harmful ones. Common issues to be monitored are apple scab, bitter rot, fire blight, and apple mildew.
Applying the correct pesticide, at the right time, is important in treating an issue. When it comes to applying treatments to your fruit trees, it is important to rely on expertise as this can help detain issues before they occur.
The most common treatment that Ahlum & Arbor performs on fruit trees is a fungicide spray using products that are safe for fruit bearing trees that are meant for consumption. Another common treatment is insecticides. These keep mites and other harmful insects away from the fruits.
While using pesticides on fruit trees, the Pre-Harvest Interval (PHI) needs to be considered. This is the amount of time required to wait between a pesticide application and when a crop can be harvested. The interval is based on the pesticide being used and the treated plant material. For one product we use, the PHI for peaches is 0 days, but for almonds the PHI is 30 days.
Weathering the Winter
Ohio winters can be harsh, and proper winterization is crucial. Wrap young trees to protect against frost cracks and use tree guards to shield trunks from rodents. Adequate mulching around the base of the tree will help insulate the roots.
Caring for your fruit trees in Ohio is a rewarding journey that requires dedication and a touch of green-thumb finesse. Ahlum & Arbor Tree Preservation is here to guide you through each step, ensuring your fruit trees flourish and become a source of joy and abundance.
If you have concerns about your fruit trees or are ready to get ahead of the curve this winter, give us a call and we will get your trees ready for their optimal harvest this year!