My Orchard Calendar

Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)March 6, 2007

I have been making a monthly calendar of the orchard tasks I need to do so I don't forget. Maybe you will find it interesting to see how I do things. It surely is missing several important things but it has a lot of them. Questions and comments appreciated.


Dormant Season

Maintenance actions

Stake any leaning trees

Check tree tags and re-tag any trees missing their tags.

Tighten up trellis wires


Move plants earlier rather than later to give them a chance to establish.

Dormant Pruning

Do this as late as possible on the grapes to prevent winter injury, and somewhat late on the kiwis and stone fruit.

All Trees: Prune back crossing branches on trees. Form either a gobelet or a spindle shape on all trees. Aim for 1' or more between every vertical on the gobelet.

Black Currants: remove 1/3 of bush once its 2+ years old.

Red Currants: I need to look into this more, the British way is to prune them way back like grapes but the US growers don't seem to do that.

Gooseberries: cut leaders by half and thin.

Blueberries: after 4-5 years prune out oldest canes from base.

Kiwi: Prune similarly with grapes.

Grapes: don't do any pruning until March due to the dessication issue.

March Early

All Trees: Do dormant sprays now, they are most effective closer to when bugs start waking up. L/S and dormant oil on everything besides small fruits and 'cots; copper on 'cots. Make sure to L/S pears for pear blister mite. Until CB under control do copper on all stonef.

Pruning: Now is the time to do the grape and stonef pruning. See notes -- aim for ~5 nodes per linear foot on the grapes.

Fall bearing Raspb: Cut to ground

June bearing rasp and blackb: Thin canes and remove any dead canes

Everything: start up the mulching process on all beds.

March Late

Figs: unwrap when temps are going to stay above 25F.

Kiwis: trellis up again if I had any laid on the ground.

Trailing blackberry: tie back up canes that were on the ground

Stone fruit: in cold snaps use row cover on them to protect blooms

Strawberries: Thin beds to one plant every 6" or so.

Major fertilization starting NOW -- see above. Up to mid-April is fine, in fact that may be a better time. Put under mulch if the mulch is there.


Start vigilance for coryneum blight, aphids, beetles, caterpillars, fireblight, psylla, blister mites, deer, rabbits!!

Its grafting season!! Early April for apples and mid-april for stone fruits seems to be the optimum. Wait for warmer weather for peaches (hi 75-80 lo 50), they don't like it too cold.

Early April, All Trees: sulphur+nuFilm17+seaweed or copper at pink to fight brown rot and other diseases. In general, sulphur any time from pink to petal drop and sepal drop is a good idea. Nufilm17 will mean a spray a bit early will still be effective.

All Trees: Sulphur+Nu-film17+seaweed or copper at petal drop and sepal drop to fight brown rot and other diseases.

Mid-April Pawpaws: hand pollinate the flowers with a brush. Another idea is put a handful of cottonseed meal under trees to attract carrion flies.

Peach: major alert for shothole; try to spray between every rain, best right after.

All Trees: Inspect all trees for borers from 1" above to 2" below ground; surround globbed there is one defense

All Trees: Petal fall: start surround spray regimen NOW and maintain until harvest.

Grapes: Start weekly spray, first one at 1" green. See above for the sprays to use; rotate through the different sprays. Other disease-prone fruits to hit occasionally with leftover spray: cherry, currant/goose, apple seedlings


All Trees: Thin fruit to one per cluster or one every 6". Thin asian pears very heavily. Bagging happens now.

Vinafera Grapes: Crank up the spraying in mid-May -- thats when the diseases really take off. Hit hard, hit as often as needed. Also need thinning -- when? Some need more thinning than others.

Strawberries: mid-late May put out netting on Earliglow. Also add pepper spray. Consider getting some red rocks as decoys.


Figs: pinch off shoots to slow down growth and force plant into making figs

Blueberries: need netting mid-June for bird protection.

All trees: Prune new growth back by half.

late June: begin Japanese beetle vigilance, picking them off daily. Surround spray on bad outbreaks.

Red currants: Possibly prune red currants now, according to Growing Fruit: 5-6 leaves on each lateral (assumes I pruned each lateral to one bud only in the dormant season).


Raspberries: After bearing, cut back the 2-yr canes to the ground and thin the 1-year ones to the biggest canes only (one every 4-6 inches).

Strawberries: thin out runners.

Grapes: don't forget to do an occasional spray in this period, something like monthly, or the diseases will get going again.


Blackberry: remove producing canes (floricanes) after harvest. Thin primocanes to 10" apart.

Cherry: cherries need a disease spray or two this month, usually for powdery mildew.

Grapes: bag clusters as they start to sweeten with paper bags to deter birds and wasps

All Trees: Summer prune new growth on all trees back by 1/2

Bud grafting time if any to do



Overwintering Protection Plan (late Oct or early Nov)

Figs: after leaf drop, prune back heavily and protect with reflecting bubble insulation cover.

Feijoa: Same treatment as figs.

Fuzzy kiwi: Mature plants need nothing. Lay down younger ones on ground and cover.

Marionberry: Untie the canes and cover with reflecting insulation

Persimmons: spray with wilt-pruf to prevent desiccation


All Trees: Rake up all fruit tree leaves to prevent re-infection

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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

Thank you! I haven't even read it, but I'm going to print it up and study it and stick it in my garden book!

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 11:26AM
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Hi Scottfsmith

Great calendar

I am curious if you encourage long leaders on your plums, or if you promote lots of branching to increase fruiting?

Take care

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 2:20PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Sam, my Japanese plums I am mostly doing as vase "V" shapes with branching every foot or so from the center on out. The European ones are more as a vase "U" shape where there are longer leaders (maybe 1-2') which tend to go first more out and then more up relative to the Japanese plums. I have just now gotten to the point of building the complete scaffold structure on some of the older trees and am figuring out how to do renewal pruning on them. At one point I saw a picture of a commercial orchard where many shoots were pruned back to only 3-4 buds off the main scaffolds and I may want to try that. Its something more like a grape pruning system in the sense that you have these short spurs which get renewed periodically.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 4:43PM
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geraldo(Cent. WA z6b)

My gawd, wotta a lotta work!!! Your're making me tired just sittin' in front of my computer. Well, at least you're eatin' good in the neighborhood.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 9:08PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Geraldo, I bet if you wrote out everything you did in your orchard you would have a lot more. I don't have to produce a great yield of blemish-free fruit so I can be pretty sloppy on a lot of things.

If you are just starting out however its good to know how many tasks there are and how long they take. I really got myself in over my head in the beginning because not only did I have all the maintenance stuff, I was adding new rows, trying to figure out how the heck to prune, working double time to correct all the stupid mistakes I made, etc etc. These days its a piece of cake in comparison.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 4:03PM
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geraldo(Cent. WA z6b)

Scott, I don't hardly do any of the hand stuff myself these days. I sit on the tractor much of the time. And I spend much time working on equipment. I also spend considerable time running to town for parts. And then back, because it isn't the exact right part. I just can't hardly have anything repaired by someone else these days. It just costs so much.
the funny thing is that pruning young trees or working on the sprinklers or planting the trees; this is the stuff that I like, but have less time for.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 10:09PM
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dethride(7a / 6b GA)

Thank you, Scott! This is EXACTLY what I've been looking for for my small orchard. I've attempted to assemble the pertinent info but you've done it! And we are in the same 6/7 zone! You're right, it takes all (well, some) of the mental fog off and lessens mistakes that cost us time and effort. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 10:17AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Thanks Herbert. One thing I should have mentioned is my philosophy is "dont spray unless the previous year had a problem" -- I started out with no sprays and only added them when I had a disease problem. So for example the standard recommendation is to spray for diseases all summer long on all trees, but I have been able to avoid that. It could be that brown rot gets bad enough that I will want to add sprays on my peaches/plums around ripening time, but so far it has not been needed, and so I don't do it! Also I am 95% organic and thats reflected in the above but I didn't mention it.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 3:19PM
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Do you consume (either yourself or as presents) all the fruit you produce?

The picture of your orchard is great I would love to see some more.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 3:44PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Sam its easy to consume it all now because I am still a ways from full production. I will also be redoing things based on too little or too much of this or that, it is very much a work in progress. One thing I discovered already is I did not have enough row-feet of berries. I may end up with too many peaches and plums. I have a cider press and make apple cider so I doubt I will ever have too many apples. Also my neighbors will certainly be very helpful with the picking if I have extras. My 7-year-old daughter already has big thoughts of her future roadside fruit stand.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 5:29PM
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dethride(7a / 6b GA)

Spraying when conditions arise and as organically as possible is the strategy I'm using as well. I went to your page and love your set-up. So many apple varieties! Cool! I would like to be similarly "obsessed" but I have too many interests and hobbies to do many more fruit trees. Have had lousy luck with peaches. I'm down to one "Cresthaven". Today I picked up some "Maxine" pear scions and will attempt my first grafting onto a "Savannah" pear (6 yrs. old) that may actually bear next year , then again...

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 5:30PM
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thistle5(z7 VA)

Thank you, Scott, I have quite a bit less fruit trees, but scattered all over my yard, your schedule will help me see that they all get proper care when they need it. I'm waiting to get a couple of apricot & pluot trees, not w/ any hope that they will bear fruit, but it will be fun to plant them & see them grow.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 9:36PM
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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

Scott -
What is CB? As in this line: "Until CB under control do copper on all stonef."

Also I presume L/S is lime/sulfer. Do you need to get lime and sulfer and mix them, or is it one product you just buy and spray?


    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 9:06AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Bart, CB is Coryneum Blight. It is not often a bad disease in the east but I got a very bad case of it from a tree I purchased out of a California nursery. It is nearly gone now, but not quite. I would ignore that line. Well, in general its not a bad idea to use dormant copper every now and then on stone fruit due to its good activity on both CB and bacterial spot. Copper can build up in the soil over many years so on the other hand L/S should be used most of the time.

L/S is indeed lime sulphur and any good garden center should have it pre-mixed. It is possible to brew your own but for small amounts it is cheap enough to buy the pre-mixed version.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 7:49PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I could live in your backyard!!! wow. Nice pic... I'll have 4 peach trees, and 3 apples and 1 pear... and i thought i had a lot of things too do. I like how you've mulched all your trees... Very interesting. I'm still learning, so i'll probably screw some things up again this year, but i've still got time, considering i'm a few zones behind you!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 11:54PM
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Great photo. You are an inspiration!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 11:35PM
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