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Monthly Archives: July 2016

Planting Peach Trees

Planning

  • Plant peach trees in the spring.
  • Plant large, vigorous 1 year-olds. Standard-size trees will bear fruits at 3 years of age, dwarfs at 1 to 2 years.
  • Most varieties are self-fertile, so it is not necessary to plant more than one tree.
  • Choose varieties that are right for your area and resistant to disease.
  • A standard-size peach tree will stand 15 feet at maturity if kept pruned, 25 feet if left unpruned. Dwarf trees reach 6 feet in height.

Preparation

  • Choose a site with well-drained, sandy soil. Avoid low-lying areas that can become frost pockets.

Planting

  • Plant standard-size trees 15 to 20 feet apart, dwarf trees 10 to 12 feet apart.

Care

  • Fertilize young trees with nitrogen in early spring and early summer. Fertilize older trees at a rate of 1 pound of actual nitrogen per year. Do not fertilize within 2 months of the average first fall frost date or when fruits are maturing.
  • Prune trees to an open center shape.
  • Thin fruits to 6 to 8 inches apart 4 to 6 weeks after bloom.
  • See our article Fruit Pests and Diseases for controls of common peach pests such as peach tree borer, plum curculio, brown rot, and peach leaf curl.
  • Prune trees, thin fruit, and pick fruit when ripe to increase resistance to fruit diseases.

Harvest

  • Pick peaches when fully ripe. There should be no green on the fruit, and fruit should come off the branch with a slight twist.
  • Store peaches in a cool place.

Planting Grape

Planning

  • Choose a variety that is recommended for your climate. Grapes require a long, frost-free growing season.
  • Grapes start to bear 2 years after 1-year-old vines are planted. Established vines will yield up to 15 pounds of grapes per year, 30 to 40 pounds from amuscadine.
  • Plant grapes in the spring.

Preparation

  • Select a site with deep, well-drained, loose soil in full sun.
  • Set up a trellis system before planting.

Planting

  • Space vines 6 to 10 feet apart (16 feet for muscadines).
  • For each vine, dig a planting hole 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Fill with 4 inches of topsoil. Trim off broken roots and set the vine into the hole slightly deeper than it grew in the nursery.
  • Cover the roots with 6 inches of soil and tamp down. Fill with the remaining soil, but don’t tamp this down.

Care

  • Prune the top back to two or three buds at planting time and follow the first-year training steps.
  • Prune annually when the vines are dormant according to the training system you select.
  • Do not fertilize unless the soil is very poor or the plants show poor foliage color or signs of nutrient deficiencies.
  • Cultivate shallowly around the base of plants to control weeds.
  • Drape netting over vines to prevent birds from destroying your harvest.
  • See our article Fruit Pests and Diseases for controls of common grape pests such as aphid, scale, anthracnose, and black rot.

Harvesting

  • Grapes will only ripen on the vine. As they ripen, the sugar content rises to about 20 percent.
  • Harvest table grapes when the flavor is right; harvest wine grapes when they reach the appropriate sugar content.

The fall before you plant, mark the location for your vines. Get rid of all weeds, especially perennial ones, as your vines can easily survive 30 years or more in the same location. Grapes don’t require superior soil, but good drainage is a must. Although you won’t start training the vines until the second year, set up the trellis system before spring planting so you don’t damage the roots later.

Planting

In the spring, work the soil again and plant the vines 6 to 10 feet apart. (Double this spacing for muscadines.) For each vine, dig a hole 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide to accommodate the roots. Shovel in a 4-inch layer of topsoil. Then prune the top of your grapevine back to two or three buds and trim off any broken roots or roots too long to fit into the hole without crowding. Set the vine into the hole, slightly deeper than it was grown in the nursery, and spread its roots. Cover the roots with 6 inches of topsoil, keeping the buds above the soil line. Tamp down the soil, then fill the remainder of the hole with topsoil but don’t tamp it down. Water the new plants well. Although grapevines are known to be drought tolerant, they need plenty of water right after planting so roots can get established.

Planting Cherry Trees

Planning

  • Tart cherries thrive in zones 4 to 6, sweet cherries in zones 5 to 7.
  • Plant cherry trees in early spring.
  • Tart cherries are self-fertile. Sweet cherries need a compatible variety for cross-pollination.
  • Choose sweet cherry varieties that are especially adapted to your climate and resistant to the major diseases in your area.
  • Standard-size trees start bearing in about their fourth year, dwarf trees in about their third year.
  • One mature, standard-size tart or sweet cherry tree will produce 30 to 50 quarts of cherries each year; a dwarf tree, about 10 to 15 quarts.

Preparation

  • Choose a sunny site with good air circulation and deep, well-drained soil. Avoid low areas or places surrounded by buildings or shade trees, where cold air settles.

Planting

  • Plant sweet cherries on standard rootstocks 35 to 40 feet apart; dwarfs, 5 to 10 feet apart. Space tart cherries on standard root stocks 20 to 25 feet apart; dwarfs, 8 to 10 feet apart.
  • Set trees on standard rootstocks with the graft union a few inches below the soil level. Set trees on Colt dwarfing rootstock with the graft union several inches above the soil level.

Care

  • Train dwarf tart cherry trees to a central leader. Train semi-dwarf or standard-size cherry trees to a modified leader.
  • Prune trees every year in late winter to encourage the growth of new fruiting wood. Don’t prune in the fall.
  • Fertilize each spring until trees start to bear, then fertilize only after harvest each season.
  • See our article Fruit Pests and Diseases for controls of common cherry pests such as plum curculio, cherry fruit fly, brown rot, and cherry leaf spot.
  • Prevent birds from eating your harvest.

Harvesting

  • The sugar content of cherries rises dramatically in the last few days of ripening, so wait until they turn fully red, black, or yellow (depending on the variety) before harvesting.
  • Harvest as the cherries ripen over the course of about a week.
  • Pick the cherries with the stems attached, being careful not to tear off the fruit spur that will produce fruit year after year.

Cherries need a sunny site with good air circulation and deep, well-drained soil. Although cherry wood is as winter-hardy as some apple varieties, the flower buds are tender once they start to swell. An elevated site will minimize frost-killed blossoms. Avoid low areas or places surrounded by buildings or shade trees, where cold air settles. Poorly drained soils can cause trees to die in a wet year even though they may have lived through several years of drier weather. Cherries are susceptible to verticillium wilt and other diseases, so don’t plant them where verticillium has infested the soil or where tomato family crops, melons, or strawberries grew the previous two seasons. Also avoid planting where peach orcherry trees once grew.

Planting

Plant sweet cherries on standard rootstocks 35 to 40 feet apart; dwarfs, 5 to 10 feet apart. Space tart cherries on standard rootstocks 20 to 25 feet apart; dwarfs, 8 to 10 feet. Set trees on standard rootstocks with the graft union a few inches below the soil level. Set trees on Colt dwarfing rootstock with the graft union several inches above the soil line.