Fall is an exciting time for fruit tree owners, as it often means harvest time. During the frenzy of harvest, however, don’t forget about continuing to take care of your fruit trees. Fall is also a very important time to pay attention to the health of your trees. If you make sure your trees are ready for the winter months ahead by taking these simple steps in the fall, then your trees will handle the cold months better and come out healthy in the end.
Make sure your tree gets plenty of water, especially around mid-October. This ensures that the tree goes into winter with a well built up water supply. Make sure to water at least 2-3 inches each time so that the water reaches all the roots beneath the soil. Only dampening the soil may not be enough for the water to reach the roots. Don’t waterlog it, though!
Heavy pruning in the fall can encourage the tree to continue its growth, keeping it from being ready for the upcoming harsh conditions. If pruning takes place, the tree will lack the proper thickness needed for protection as the cold sets in. Stick to minor pruning in the fall to avoid causing winter injury. Fall pruning is especially detrimental to younger trees, since they’re already in a rapid growth period.
If you live in a particularly cold climate, you may need to protect your trees from sun scalding. This occurs when the tree’s bark warms up during the day, but cells die at night, causing tree damage. To protect your trees from sunscald, use plastic tree guards or paper tree wraps around the lower part of the trunk. Pay special attention to young trees, as they are the most susceptible to this kind of damage.
Besides making the area look cleaner, raking leaves out from under trees has a good amount of benefits. Rake leaves away from healthy trees to ensure that leaf borne illnesses don’t occur. It also keeps mice from settling in under the leaves, often causing destruction to fruit trees. It may also be beneficial to keep the grass mowed to prevent the same type of problems.
Taking good care of your trees in the fall is the best way to ensure that you have a healthy crop when the next season comes around. The more you take care of your trees, the more likely they are to mature, meaning more fruit in the future. Nothing creates a greater yield than a little bit of effort year-round.
Stewart Scott is the owner and operator of Cevet Tree Service, a tree trimming company in and around Columbia, Mo.