fall fertilization of fruit trees

Asked October 11, 2018, 3:24 PM EDT

I live outside of Dallas at 1200 feet. My soil is rocky and has some clay. Consequently, my fruit trees struggle to grow strong roots. Should I do a fall application of low nitrogen, high phosphorus and potassium fertilizer, or does spring make more sense? Thanks. John Honer, Dallas

Polk County Oregon

3 Responses

Thanks for your your question, John. Generally, fertilization is best utilized in the spring, when plants are photosynthesizing and actually using the nutrients. Could you share exactly what species of fruit trees you are growing, as well as how old they are? I can supply more specific information with this data. Thanks!

Thanks for getting back, Kristena. My plums do well as do my pears, including asian. All are b/w 2 and 9. My royal ann didn't make it and my van is barely hanging on. My apples are having most difficulties. None look good and barely put on fruit. My Mac, liberty, gala and a braeburn are hanging on. I've lost a gala, braeburn, honeycrisp and a wealthy due to roots not developing. Thanks. John Honer

What I would suggest, John, is that you spring for a soil test (http://www.al-labs-west.com) to see what the soil and your plants need. When you say they’re not putting on fruit, there may be a micronutrient deficiency that adding nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (macronutrients) won’t help. I assume—perhaps incorectly—that you’ve examined for insects and leaf disorders. If not, you can swing by your county Extension office to have a staff member examine them. I hope this is helpful. Good luck!