In today’s Almond Matters, brought to you by Valent, UC Cooperative Extension Pomology Advisor for Merced County David Doll highlights some of the often-overlooked areas of cultivating a young orchard. “What a lot of people focus on are pests or weeds, but the reality is we need to focus on water and making sure that we’re applying the proper amount of water as well as fertilizer to prevent uptake issues and water stress,” said Doll.
One of the most common issues with the growth of young orchards is water stress. Another common setback is due to applying too much fertilizer. “Our research has shown that we don’t really need that much fertilizer. Somewhere around three to four ounces of actual nitrogen per tree that’s applied to the root zone of the tree is often sufficient,” Doll stated.
There are also some things to keep in mind when fertilizing young trees. “Since you’re not pulling out crop, you don’t need to apply a lot of fertilizer to get them to grow,” Doll noted. Other important factors are the consideration of nutrients in the soil and addressing any micronutrient or macronutrient issues that may occur.
The process of pruning also plays an important role when developing a young orchard. There are many ways to prune a tree, but pruning methods should have a reason behind them. Whether dealing with double-breaks, or to put space between scaffolds, or simply providing better structure to the tree, each cut needs to have a purpose behind it. “The more we cut limbs off a young tree, the more we’re going to impact our yield,” said Doll.
Listern to the interview below.