January Orchard Keepers

Jan 24th, 2017

By clare


Pick up any fallen leaves and leftover fruit from under your tree to compost. Leaves from healthy trees can be used as mulch. Leaves from trees with obvious or suspected pest damage should be added to the city compost to prevent re-infestation next year.


Reasons for pruning when the tree is dormant? You want to make larger, structural changes to the tree or you want to stimulate new growth in the tree. Dormant pruning season begins when leaves have completely fallen off the tree. Begin by removing any branches dead and damaged by the weight of the harvest. Dead branches will be light in color, brittle and easily broken with no green growth tissue in the center (meristem). Learn more about pruning in this video.

Apples: If your apple tree tends to generate a lot of watersprouts (vegetative growth above the roots), remove one-third of the sprouts, shorten one-third, and leave the final third to grow longer. If you cut all of them out in winter, the watersprouts will return in force. You can manage the sprouts again in the summer.

Cherry: Do not prune cherry trees in winter! Wait until they have finished fruiting.

Plum: You can prune plum trees in winter, but wait until any danger of frost has passed. 



Fruit trees in containers should receive a 4-6" layer of wood or straw mulch to protect the root zone from cold weather. If temperatures consistently drop to freezing temperatures, move potted fruit trees into a shed or unheated garage to overwinter and don't forget to water them regularly. Follow the guidelines based on your fruit variety. Any subtropical fruit trees should be moved inside and cared for based on their native season care needs.

Keep up to 6 inches around the trunk of your tree free of mulch. Fruit tree bark will soften and rot if kept moist for too long. Plus your tree absorbs oxygen through the roots making up the root flare so don't suffocate them with mulch.

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