Fertilizing bare root trees at planting?

jay_in_norcalJanuary 3, 2010

I have heard conflicting advice on whether or not to add fertilizer to the soil / in the hole when planting new bare root fruit trees. I am starting my first little orchard in a few weeks and I am hoping to get a definitive answer prior to that. Some places say to mix some fertilizer in the soil at planting and others say do not in order to avoid "burning" the roots. Anyone have definitive advice on this? If I should, what kind of fertilizer? Thanks!

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misterbaby(7a/b TN)

Hi, Jay! For sure, no hot manure or chemical fertilizer in the hole, as these will burn the roots--often killing the tree. For apple, pear, peach, and cherry trees, I mix a cup or so of bonemeal into the dirt being used to fill the hole. Then I'll sprinkle a like amount of fishmeal on top of the ground around the new tree, and water it in. Enjoy your orchard. Misterbaby.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 12:11AM
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Misterbaby is right. Don't add fertilizer in the hole. In fact, don't fertilize newly planted bare root trees at all. Wait until the trees have some spring growth on them before fertilizing.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 12:52AM
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I plant in 25 gallon pots and don't add fertilizers at the time of planting.

I do add little...

Worm Castings.
Blood Meal.
Bone Meal or Garden Gypsum.
Kelp Meal.
Green Sand.

I mix it well with the soil as to much iron (blood meal) or too much calcium (Bone meal) is not good either.

In the ground I would do the same.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 1:12AM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

I have good growth with adding small amount old horse manure mix with soil at very low rate 1/2 to gallon manure mixed in soil to fill hole. For home owners it recomitted to use nuffing because that group will use to much and burn roots. Having a pile top soil months in advance fertlize so nitgreon die works for me to but them home owner could mess that up by not giving time needed to balance. Thisisme give good list of low fertilizers to add in planting mix.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 6:35AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Advice from Davis these days says to backfill with native soil only. Top dress with compost as a mulch. Any fertilizer you feel your soil needs should be added on top of the soil after leaf out, spread away from the trunk at and beyond the drip line. Al

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 9:34AM
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alan haigh

Nothing should be thrown in holes IMO except maybe some calcium in acid soils. Generally nutritional amendments should be worked into soil of entire area previous to planting based on a soil test. Most important thing is getting pH in proper range. Your cooperative extension is a reliable source for a soil test kit which involves sending a soil sample to a lab.

Research I've seen shows that indeterminate growers such as peaches and J. plums will often grow more the first season with sup. N in a quick release form applied as suggested by Mr. B except I contend that you get same results w. organic as inorganic quick release. I consider fish emulsion pretty quick release. I prefer to use my own urine which is just a day or so slower than urea- it's a sin (in my private bible) to waste it and buy something that doesn't work any better. Dilute it well and water it in.

Determinate growers (plants that get there main flush of growth in spring) like apples and pears generally don't benefit the first year from such applications but may store some of it for greater vigor the following spring.

Plenty of soils are rich enough not to benefit from sup. N and when trees come into bearing I think slow release is the best source. Too often bearing age trees have too much vigor creating less flavored fruit.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 11:25AM
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I add a soluable low nitrogen high phosphorus fertilizer to a gallon or two of water that I saturate the backfill at planting and at two week intervals for the first month or so with good success on a number of different types of bareroot fruit trees. Originally came upon this practice from discussions with Jim Cummins who specifically recommends it for the planting of bareroot apple trees.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 11:56AM
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I guess I generally disagree here. Almost any organic fertilizers in small to moderate amounts seem alright in the planting hole: bone meal, cottonseed meal, fish meal, soy meal, kelp meal, compost, rock phosphate (probably not superphosphate), composted manure, etc. Osmacoat would probably be fine too. As a matter of fact, chemical fertilizers are alright EXCEPT that you generally cannot mix them well enough. Witness that soilless potting mixtures often have intermixed chemical fertilizers as ingredients.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 12:11PM
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I need a copy of your "private Bible" though I doubt my wife and kids are ready to practice your religion. A question was asked a while back on the Georgia forum about if it was safe to pour some beer they did not care for on their plants, and I believe I suggested they process the beer internally first as well as objecting that any beer could be bad. I have never collected my urine, but I have been known to water a tree, With the amount of trees it sounds you manage, I am sure you have to supplement this method, but I guess if the folks whose orchards you manage sounds like very sound green management to me.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 1:01PM
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strudeldog it doesn't take much; harvestman's pee is high "N" pee.lol

Sorry harvestman I just could not help myself.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 2:28PM
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alan haigh

Gone, I know what you mean. My wife has never warmed to the concept of storing urine and will hide my gas can pee jar if I leave it in the bathroom and guests are coming.

My clients don't get the benefit of my personal miracle gro. They either get N pulled out of the atmosphere at great energy expense or some bulky and heavy organic source that cost all that deisel fuel to get it to a distributer.

I love it when one of my clients come to a dinner party and rave on about my woderful and very large peppers or something pulled from my vegetable garden that they've just eaten and ask for my secret.

Thisisme, actually my pee is probably not particularly hi N by American standards because I don't eat all that much meat.

Jim Cummins expertise is in breeding rootstocks not nutritional management. I'd like to see the research that shows any meaningful response created by the addition of P. to most soils. I just haven't seen it, although the addition of P is often recommended.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 6:45PM
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alan haigh

I should mention that by P I don't mean pee which is another matter entirely. Most plants certainly do respond vigorously to well timed pee applications.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 6:15AM
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