Fruit trees require a fairly large amount of nutrients in order to develop properly. The proper amounts of fertilizer to apply should be based on a soil test. This test should be conducted every 3 years since some nutrients can buildup in the soil while others easily dissolve in water and are flushed away.

Only apply the recommended amounts of fertilizer to prevent run-off and fertilizer toxicities. A soil test also tells you the pH of your soil. For most fruit trees the soil pH should be maintained between 6.0 and 6.5. Lime is often needed in order to achieve this optimum range.

Fertilizer should be applied in early spring right before bud break. The amount of fertilizer applied depends on the type of fruit tree and its growth status. Trees should be fertilized with enough nutrients to encourage optimal annual shoot growth and fruit development. Excessive application of fertilizer can increase disease problems as well as be an unnecessary expense.

For apple, pear, and citrus trees: For the first four years or so (prior to bearing fruit) apply 1 pound of 13-13-13 per inch of trunk diameter (measured just above the soil line, above the basal flare). Apply the fertilizer in a circle under the canopy of the tree beginning 6 to 8 inches from the trunk of the tree.

After apple, pear, and citrus trees reach bearing age (4 to 5 years of age), apply 2 to 3 pounds of a complete balanced fertilizer like a 13-13-13 per inch of trunk diameter. Apply the fertilizer in a circle under the canopy of the tree 12 to 15 inches away from the trunk of the tree.

For peaches, nectarines, and plums: For the first four years or so (prior to bearing fruit) apply 1 pound of 13-13-13 per inch of trunk diameter (measured just above the soil line). Apply the fertilizer in a circle under the canopy of the tree 6 to 8 inches from the trunk of the tree.

For mature or bearing trees, fertilize at the rate of 1 to 11/2 pounds of 13-13-13 fertilizer per year of age until trees are 8 to 10 years old. Then apply 8 to 10 pounds per tree annually.

These recommendations are merely a rule of thumb. If you do not have 13-13-13, any other complete, balanced fertilizer such as 8-8-8, 10-10-10, etc. will work. For proper and more accurate recommendations, a soil test should be performed. Soil test information can be obtained from the local Extension Service office.

If you would like more information on the 4-H Horticulture project please give me a call. My phone number is (601) 656-4602.

UPCOMING EVENTS

• Feb. 12 - Leadership Neshoba, 8 a.m., Community Development Partnership Depot.

• Feb. 12 - County 4-H Council, 3:30 p.m., Neshoba Coliseum.

• Feb. 22 - 4-H Shooting Sports Work Day and Practice Sessions for all Disciplines, 10 a.m., Beason Farm in Fork Community.

Until next week, get into 4-H!