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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How Often to Water Fruit Trees in the Winter?

Q. Do you have any guidelines for watering fruit trees in the winter?  I cant find anything specific to winter watering on your web page. I have apricot, nectarine, apple, fig, pear, plum, cherry, peach, orange - planted spring 2015.  I am not expecting the apple or cherry to make any fruit yet, They are just ornamental. Pomegranite, jujube, lime, grapefruit I planted 3 years ago. Will deep watering once a month suffice for December - February?
Fruit tree with irrigation basin surrounding the trunk. Irrigation bubbler at the top right of the basin that allows 2 gallons of water to flow from it every minute. The basin must be level so that water flows evenly across its surface.Surrounding the trunk is rabbit protection.
A. Once a month is not even often enough for trees established for years in our warm winter desert climate. Once they have been established, trees established for one season might be closer to every two weeks during the winter. If the soil is very sandy, then once a week. Fruit trees surrounded by dry soils should be watered more often than trees in wet soils. Wet soils in the desert might happen if fruit trees are grown close to a lawn area, a wall that has irrigation applied on the other side of it, intercropped between the trees with other plants like vegetables or herbs.

Irrigation basins surrounding newly planted fruit trees that have been staked and mulched with wood chips. The screening around the trees is for rabbit protection which also keeps the wood mulch away from the trunk. If drip emitters were used, two emitters might be enough for the first 2 to 3 years. When they have reached 2 to 3 years old than increase the number of emitters to at least four.
Generally speaking, if there is a surface mulch of at least three inches, add one to two days in the summer and up to one week in the winter. Sandy soils require more frequent watering with smaller amounts applied. Desert soils should contain 50% compost at the time of planting. Fruit trees perform much better with wood mulches applied to the surface and require less frequent watering.

General Watering Schedule for Fruit Trees
Let me run down a general schedule of watering fruit trees that is ignoring rainfall since we only receive an average of 4 inches (10cm) or rain each year.

Newly planted in spring or fall during cool weather....2-3 days; winter 1 to 2 weeks depending on soil and mulch covering. After growing for one season then assume the trees are established.

Fruit trees established at least one season with fruit or nuts on the tree... Summer every three to four days depending on soil and mulch. Spring and fall, weekly. Winter every two weeks. Fruit trees that have been harvested can be watered less often.

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