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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fruit Trees Don't Need Daily Watering in the Heat

Q. I bought this apricot tree in March and it flourished and I got lots of apricots from it within a couple months. It started to turn hot and the leaves started to turn brown I have watered it very well daily as it's exposed to full sun and it seems like it's withering and I can't figure out what's going on. Here is a few pictures of the whole tree and some of the leaves and even the bark

A. Avoid watering daily. Fruit trees do not need to be watered every day even if it's 115 F. I am watering hundreds of fruit trees that were planted in March of this year as bare root.  These trees were not in containers, and I am watering them every other day right now during this heat. But when they were planted, compost was mixed with the soil used for planting around the roots. As they were planted, water was added to the planting hole so that everything was a slurry, a muddy mess, all around the roots.

Apricot leaves will scorch more if the tree is not healthy. Make sure it's given an iron fertilizer in January or February.
Water with a hose during establishment. These trees were watered with a hose 3 or 4 times in one week before the drip irrigation was turned on. A depression 3 feet wide was put around each tree so that water from the hose would collect around the tree and the soil would settle around the roots.

Woodchip mulch. Finally, a 4 inch layer of wood chips surrounded each tree at least 3 feet in diameter. The woodchips were kept 6 inches away from the trunk so that water, in combination with the woodchips, did not rot the trunk where it entered the soil. These trees will not need to be fertilized for 2 years because of the compost used at planting time. You can get good compost from Viragrow in North Las Vegas.
Apricot tree may scorch when surrounded by rock on the surface of the soil when it is 115° F

Drainage. Take a post hole digger and create vertical holes or chimneys in the soil about 18 inches from the tree in 4 locations if drainage is a problem. These vertical holes will help drain water away from the roots and help prevent them from suffocating. Pour compost into these 4 holes and fill them. Then I would cover the soil around the tree with woodchips, not rocks, 4 inches deep. Keep the wood chips 6 inches from the trunk of the tree.

Monitor soil moisture. I would buy a soil moisture meter used for houseplants that will cost you less than $10 at Lowes or Home Depot. When you take a soil moisture reading, push the tip of the meter into the soil about 4 inches deep and look at the needle. Don't water the tree unless the needle is in the middle of the meter (5 on a 10 point scale).

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