fall fertilizing of fruit trees
What type of fall fertilizer should I be putting on my one year old apple, pear, peach trees, and my grape vines. Thanks so much
Livingston County Michigan
We generally do not recommend fall fertilization unless the trees are growing poorly to begin with. A small bit of nitrogen and potash is beneficial in the fall but too much may stimulate late growth reducing winter cold hardiness. Nitrogen fertilizer before harvest can also delay fruit ripening. For all perennial fruit crops we recommend a split application of nitrogen and potash if potash is needed in the spring. Half should be applied as early in the spring as possible. The second half is applied after bloom as the leaves are emerging and shoot growth is underway. If there is a freeze and the fruit crop is lost you can forego the second application. Fruit trees and grapes are perennial plants and recycle nutrients from the leaves to the wood and roots for use in the next growing season. The amount of fertilizer really depends on the soil type with heavier soils requiring little if any fertilizer and sandy soils requiring more. A soil test is a good way to determine if you plants need potash or phosphorous. Nitrogen needs can be estimated for shoot growth. For apples and pears should average about 8 to 12 inches of new growth on the extension growth. Peaches about 12 to 18. If the grapes are putting out 3 to 4 feet of growth in the new shoots they have enough nitrogen. Too much nitrogen can lead to excess shoot growth and reduced flowering and fruit.