Growers - Growing Guides

Planting Site Preparation

Break up Sod

If the orchard site is covered with sod, allow it to dry thoroughly before discing. Undercutting the sod with a blade cuts the sod from its roots and hastens drying. Disc and harrow with equipment that is sufficiently heavy to completely break up the sod. Leveling without first breaking up sod can bury large pieces of sod which are potentially harmful to young trees due to the methane gas produced as the sod decomposes. Ripping the site after leveling will not adequately break up sod.

Rip Before and After Leveling

If more than a foot of fill is necessary, rip low spots before leveling. Ripping high spots before leveling isn’t necessary although it may reduce leveling costs if the soil is very hard or compacted. To prevent sealing off the soil surface, rip the entire site as soon as possible after leveling. Sealing of the soil surface can be a serious problem if there is a long delay between leveling and ripping, after leveling with heavy equipment such as laser planes, and where sites are leveled when too wet.

Apply Soil Amendments

If gypsum, manures, phosphates or other soil amendments are recommended, they may be applied prior to subsoiling.

Care of Trees before Planting

Protect Trees from the Elements

Since tree roots should not be allowed to dry out or freeze, they must he sheltered from sun, wind and frost. Transport trees only in a covered vehicle or wrapped in a tarp. If you plan to plant within a couple of days, it’s OK to store your trees in a completely enclosed building that maintains temperatures above freezing and hose down the trees daily. Trees also may be protected from a light frost by a heavy cloth tarp but all edges of the tarp should be buried. If you aren’t watering the trees personally, check them at least once a day to make sure all roots are damp.

Heeling in

Trees that must he held longer than a couple of days Should be “heeled in”, a temporary planting in loose, moist soil. A well-drained location is essential to prevent root rot; heel in where rain or runoff will not flood the trench. Heel in trees in clean soil or preferably at the fumigated orchard site. Be sure to cover roots completely. To prevent air pockets, pack soil around roots as the trees are placed in the trench. If the soil isn’t moist (it should form a ball when squeezed), water in trees after they are heeled in. Heeled-in trees may need to be watered again to keep soil damp around roots if planting is delayed. After watering or rain, check heeled-in trees to make sure roots are not exposed. Roots are susceptible to frost damage if they are not covered.

Cold Storage

Contact us as early as possible to arrange cold storage for late plantings. As trees start to break dormancy in early spring, internal changes and root development occur before any sign of growth appears in the tops of trees. Best results in late plantings are obtained when trees are placed in cold storage while still fully dormant, before these changes occur.


Prepare the Planting Hole

Dig holes no deeper than necessary to plant trees without crowding roots and do not leave holes open for more than a couple of hours. Break down the sides of holes dug with an auger. Root bound trees and winding roots have been observed following auger planting – even in light, sandy soils.

Milk Cartons & White Latex plant

Protect young trees from rodents and herbicides by dropping an open-ended milk carton over the tree after planting. White latex paint delays leafing out and helps prevent sunscald and borer damage. Any white latex paint (interior, exterior, or combination), white tree paint or whitewash is acceptable although exterior types last longer. Do not use oil base paints. All walnuts should be painted after planting to prevent sunscald. Painting is especially beneficial in late plantings. To delay leafing out, paint the entire top of the tree.

Fertilize after trees have started to grow

Scatter a ring of about 1/4 to 1/2 lb. of balanced fertilizer around trees after they have at least 12 to 15 inches of new growth. To prevent over-fertilizing, use a tin can that holds just the right amount of material. Keep fertilizer at least 15-18 inches away from the trunk of the tree. We recommend a second and third application during the first summer.

For fruit and nut maturity charts, see Product Guides

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Contact Dave Wilson

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