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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How to Water Apricot Trees Loaded with Fruit

Q. Our 3 apricot trees are loaded with fruit. What is the ideal amounts of water? We have dripers at each tree
1-how much - each day(how many days a week) or per week
2-how much at one time
3-should we do more than one cycle per day

A. It is difficult to tell you how many minutes to irrigate but basically you want to wet the soil beneath the tree to a depth of 12 to 18 inches every time you irrigate. On small trees, this should be the entire area under the canopy. On larger trees this should be at least half of the area under the canopy.
This is a fruit tree which was removed from the orchard and going in wood chip mulch. You can see the majority of the roots are 18 inches deep in the soil and less. Most of the feeder roots that take up water and fertilizer quickly are only about 6 inches deep.
You should have enough drip emitters and spaced so that it will do this. For most of our soils this means they should be no further apart than 2 feet. 
This is an irrigation basin surrounding a fruit tree. Water is applied to the basin by a bubbler that produces 2 gallons of water each minute. If the basin were not present, water would flow everywhere. With the basin present it captures the water and forces it to percolate where the roots are located.
Right now we should be irrigating fruit trees twice a week. Fruit trees perform much better and are more likely to hold their fruit if there is a thick carpet of wood chips on the surface of the soil beneath the canopy. This layer of wood chips can also cushion the fruit if they were to fall during strong winds. Very common if they are ripe. This carpet of wood chip mulch should be 3 to 4 inches deep. You will add more wood chips every 2 to 3 years because they will begin to disintegrate into the wet soil. 
Here wood chip mulch was applied to the soil surface all through the Orchard. This much is not necessary. It would be adequate if the mulch was 4 inches deep inside the irrigation basin.
There is no need to water more than one cycle each time you water provided the water is kept under the canopy. If the water tends to run off to another location then you should build a basin under the canopy to hold the water. These basins are generally about 3 to 4 feet wide. With most good drip emitters they release water so slowly that the basin is not necessary. More than one cycle a day each time you irrigate is only necessary when water is applied on slopes or when the water is applied so rapidly that it runs everywhere. Otherwise there is no magic involved in watering more than one cycle per day.

1 comment:

  1. This is so, so helpful. Thank you. We have several mature fruit trees (we just bought this house 6 months ago), and our peach trees are heavily laden with fruit, but the fruit reached about 2-2.5" in diameter and doesn't seem like it's grown much at all in the past month. We've only been watering once a week for an hour with our drip system, and I think the water is only getting about 6-8" deep on most of the trees. Now I know what to shoot for: twice a week with water saturation at least 12" deep. We'll add some soaker hoses and adjust accordingly.

    Once the fruit comes off, do we switch to watering once/week again? Or should we wait until fall?