Planting and Pruning Orchard Trees
To protect roots of trees from drying and freezing: When trees arrive, “heel-in” by digging a trench 12"–15" deep and 3 or 4 feet wide in a weIl-drained location. Cover roots with fine soil. Press firmly, then water thoroughly. lf the nursery stock is to be planted within two or three days, it may be kept safely in a closed building, provided roots are sprinkled twice daily.
To plant trees:
1. Have the ground well prepared by: back hoeing, if necessary; fumigating, ripping, discing and harrowing.
2. Dipping or spraying tree roots with commercial preparations of Agrobacterium culture is a good practice for preventing crown gall. Cultures can usually be ordered and purchased from your chemical supplier.
3. Plant trees no deeper, and preferably shallower, than they stood in the nursery. (Planting too deep favors Crown Rot disease.) Dig holes large enough to accommodate roots. If land has been ripped, have soil firm in the bottom of the hole, to prevent settling.
4. Slant trees into prevailing wind, so that at cut-off height (28"–32" above ground) they lean 3"–6". Do not lean too far.
5. Roots should be spread into their natural position. Press soil firmly around the roots to eliminate air pockets, especially in the lower half of the hole. Or EVEN BETTER, fill the hole 3/4 with loose soil and settle around the roots with four gallons of water. When it soaks in, finish filling the hole. Roots must always have ample moisture.
6. Commercial planters generally do a good job. There have been times, however, when trees have been jammed into small holes or trees have been left out to dry. So try to be present while your trees are being planted. Trees that do not start are an expense that you and your nurseryman share alone.