NOVEMBER FRUIT TREE CARE 2013
I will be teaching a Growing Fruit Trees and Berries in Northern Nevada class at TMCC’s Meadowood Center on December 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. Cost is $39. Register with TMCC online.
Now is the time to prune older fruit trees (except nectarines and peaches) to reduce size/height and open them up to sunlight and air. I am currently scheduling and pruning.
November is the time to harvest fruit, rake leaves from around your trees, spread compost and mulch, and protect your tree trunks from sun scald in the winter.
Remove all fruit from trees and fallen fruit to get rid of overwintering insect pests. Rake mulch and leaves 12 to 18 inches away from the trunk to discourage mice and voles from nesting near and nibbling on the tree trunks.
Now is the time to guard your tree trunks from sun scald damage. Next time you pass a cherry tree, look at the southwest side of the trunk; most will show a damaged trunk on this side (about 7:00 when looking north). This damage is due to sunscald. When the temperatures in the winter are freezing, the sun heats up the water in the trunk facing the afternoon sun. The bark heats up enough to damage the bark cells; then the quick freeze at nightfall increase the damage.
Protect your tree by painting the trunk white before winter; off white, oyster, bridal veil, etc will also work. Use interior latex (water-base) paint and dilute 50/50 with water. Paint the lower portion of the trunk under the first set of limbs. Check the younger trees as winter progresses to see if limbs or upper portions of the trunk are being damaged and protect as needed.
I spread composted horse manure around my young trees each fall. I then cover with a 2 to 4 inch layer of straw mulch (mostly to keep horse manure compost from coming in the house on my shoes). Leaves (shredded to keep them in place) will also work. The manure feeds the earthworms that keep the soil aerated and permeable and the mulch keeps moisture in the soil.
Remember that non-composted manure from cows, sheep, and poultry can be “hot” or high in nitrogen that will burn/damage plants and should not be applied directly. Those ‘green’ manures need ‘brown material’—straw, leaves, paper—added, mixed, and then composted before use. The horse provides the correct green/brown mix at the ‘source’ and can be applied directly, although, if given a choice, I’d use the stuff that’s been sitting around for a few months. And that’s the scoop on the poop.
Be sure to monitor soil moisture throughout the winter. I check soil moisture on the holidays—Thanksgiving, Christmas, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, St. Patrick’s Day—and then the not-so-festive-and-sometimes-evil Tax Day.
Thank a veteran November 11th and enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays.Michael Revised 11/7/2013