There are a lot of irrigation systems for orchards. They each have their place according to soil type, topography and cost. Most irrigation systems designed for orchards will give the trees enough moisture they need to grow and survive, but not too much to cause root disease problems. There is a fine line between too much and not enough water especially when establishing a new orchard.
When planting a new orchard it is best to have the irrigation system installed ahead of time before the
trees are planted. Run the system for a few hours prior to planting to have good soil moisture. When
planting either a bareroot tree or a potted tree it is important that the soil is moist.
After the tree is planted it is necessary to water in the tree to remove air pockets and settle the soil around the roots. Run the irrigation system or deliver the water by tank to each tree and give it at least 2 gallons of water per tree. Once the tree is watered in it might be necessary to come back and straighten the tree or add more dirt if it has settled. Watch the moisture carefully as too much will drown the tree and not enough will dry it out. Remember, if the tree is not growing it is not using any water, so adding more water will not encourage it to grow.
It is important to move drip lines away from the base of the tree and try to minimize the amount of water hitting the trunks directly because over time the water will soften the trunks and cause disease problems. Make sure that water does not stand around the base of the tree for more than a day.
Following these basic guidelines will help the tree get off to a good start.
After trees have at least 12" – 15" of new growth, scatter a ring of about 1/4 to 1/2 lb. of balanced fertilizer in a band 6" wide around each tree, keeping 12" away from the bases of the trees . To prevent over-fertilizing, use a tin can that holds just the right amount of material. Keep fertilizer at least 15" – 18" away from the trunk of the tree. We recommend a second and third application during the first Summer.
First year summer pruning is recommended for many types of fruit. Contact us for details. For more information about any of our recommendations, please contact your Healthy Start Trees® Field Representative.