If you have beautiful fruit trees in your yard, you’ve probably already picked and consumed most of the delicious apples, plums and pears. Now that summer is over, the trees are starting to build up their reserves in preparation for winter dormancy. This means shedding the leaves so that the sugars from photosynthesis in the leaves can be redirected to the roots. When the leaves fall in the fall, it’s time to take good care of your trees to make sure they are ready for winter dormancy and good, healthy growth in the spring. Discover the best fall fruit tree care tips here!
Table of Contents
- Preparing your orchard for winter
- Care tips for fruit trees in autumn – water the tree well until mid-October.
- Refrain from fertilizing in the fall
- Pick overripe fruit and remove fallen leaves
- When should you prune fruit trees?
- Care tips for fruit trees in autumn: mulch them
- Inspect your trees for pests
- Protect fruit trees from sunburn with white paint
- Plant fruit trees in the fall
Preparing your orchard for winter
Fall is the time when you should be concerned about the health of your tree. A few simple steps will help the tree survive winter dormancy and ensure its vitality for flowering and fruiting in the spring.
Care tips for fruit trees in the fall – water the tree well until mid-October.
It is important that your trees enter the cold winter with a good supply of moisture. However, it is also important not to encourage new growth just before winter dormancy and stormy weather. Therefore, it is best to wait until the leaves have fallen before watering . Be sure to thoroughly soak the soil, at least 60 cm deep, to encourage good root growth, and water between rain showers until daytime air temperatures drop below 7 degrees.
Refrain from fertilizing in the fall
If you fertilize now, your trees will continue to grow instead of developing the winter hardiness they need. Fertilize your fruit trees in the fall only if they have pale leaves and new shoots are weak. Young trees should not be fertilized, as this will cause them to take longer to mature and bear fruit.
Pick overripe fruit and remove fallen leaves.
If you leave fruit on the branches until they are overripe, they may attract pests such as wasps or begin to rot, leading to a number of potential problems such as serious diseases. As soon as the leaves fall off the tree, you should clear your garden of leaves and rake them. This part of fruit tree care ensures no more leaf-borne diseases and prevents pests from hiding in the pile of leaves and wreaking havoc on your garden.
When should you prune fruit trees?
Young trees should not be pruned in the fall or they may suffer frost damage. If you prune fruit trees in the fall, you encourage their growth during the winter season, which is especially dangerous for young trees because they don’t have time to defend themselves against frost. Trellis fruit trees also do not like pruning during the cold season, so it is best to save this task for the spring.
However, if you prune fruit trees that are already established and hardened off, you are much less likely to have problems. Unless you live in an area with particularly harsh winter temperatures, your mature fruit trees shouldn’t mind being pruned in the fall. When it comes to apple tree care, you’ll need to remove about one-fifth of the old growth during the dormant season to encourage more abundant production the next season.
Care tips for fruit trees in autumn: mulch them
Mulching improves soil structure, conserves moisture and protects the soil from weeds and grass that steal nutrients. Organic mulch is pulled into the soil by earthworms and can consist of well-rotted manure, leaf litter and garden compost. Shovel the mulch in about 8 to 10 inches deep around the base of the tree, making sure it covers the root ball but leaves a good mulch-free space around the trunk of the tree to prevent rot.
Inspect your trees for pests
Even if you haven’t had a pest infestation this year, you should thoroughly inspect the tree for signs of overwintering insects. Fall fruit tree care would be incomplete if you didn’t check for pests and their eggs, which often hide secretly in bark crevices and other hard-to-reach places on the tree. Look for aphids, scale insects or red spider mites – the last thing you want is for them to take up residence in your orchard. Failure to prevent pest problems for next season can make caring for your fruit trees much more difficult than it should be, and even significantly damage your crop.
Protect fruit trees from sunburn with white paint
Sunburns can occur in late winter when the roots are still frozen. The sun can warm the bark during the day, but at night the cells die and damage the tree. Young trees with smooth bark are especially susceptible to sunburn. Plastic tree guards can be placed around the lower trunk as a preventative measure. Other methods include painting the lower trunk with white paint, which is a mixture of quicklime, water and wallpaper paste. Otherwise, there are other mixtures of slaked lime, clay, cow dung and horsetail. You can also wrap the trunk with aluminum foil to shade it.
Plant fruit trees in the fall
October is a great time to plant new fruit trees if that’s what you’re planning. This is one of the most exciting last jobs in the orchard. October is ideal because the soil is generally still relatively warm, but also nice and moist, and there is a lot of worm activity but less soil bacteria. Good old fall weather will probably take a lot of the watering off your hands, too. Make sure you choose the right fruit tree for your yard by looking at the rootstock and making sure it won’t be too big for your property.