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Lawn & Garden

Watering your fruit tree at the "Drip Line"

Each and almost every week, I have customers come into the store and ask what kind of fertilizer they can use to prevent the fruit from dropping off their tree.  I explain to them that it is not a fertilizer they need but rather the tree needs to be watered.  I receive the same reply over and over again: “But I do water the tree, 5 minutes once  "a week!!”  


The most common misconception is that you can always water the fruit tree at the base like you did when the tree was first planted.  Many new gardeners do not understand the concept of the “Drip Line”, that area where the branches end.  The “feeder roots” are located here and this is where the tree takes in the nutrients as well as most of its moisture from the ground.  


Drip Line 6 by RicksPicks.png


The next misconception is that the tree only needs to be watered for a few minutes once or twice a week.  The feeder roots are not like grass roots which reside closer to the surface but rather, they are a deeper root system which also helps to anchor the tree to the ground as well as bring in water and nutrients to feed the buds, the flowers, leaves and the fruit on the tree.  The feeder roots are located about 12-18 inches below the ground.  It takes about 30-45 minutes of watering for the water to reach the feeder roots, providing your ground is compacted.  Once your fruit tree is established, you may only have to water this long, 1-2 times a month.  Fruit trees like to be in a sandy well drained soil and do not perform well in a clay type soil.  


The type of soil you have your fruit tree in can also be an issue.  Since fruit trees will do best in a sandy well drained soil they should be planted in a sandy loam type soil.  The Cactus Mix by Super Soil seems to work best when planting your new fruit tree.  Some soils can become compacted and as a result the water will not percolate into the ground.  To remedy this situation, the ground needs to be aerated using either a tilling fork or for larger areas, an aerating machine. 


Tilling Digging Fork2.jpg  Aerating machine3.jpgAerating Machine rear view2c- 0 00 00-01.jpg


Once the issue of compaction has been resolved, use a hose end sprinkler to water your fruit tree.  As long as you have a moderate amount of water coming from your sprinkler, the water the fruit tree receives should be adequate.  Watering your grass is not watering your fruit tree!  Do not be afraid to soak your fruit tree.  This type of watering is called a "Drench".  It is not done every week, but rather 1-2 times a month, depending on the type of fruit tree you have. The exception to this rule will be the Avocado tree.  When this tree begins to fruit, you will need to water your avocado tree 2-3 times a week, 30-45 minutes a session.  This type of fruit tree is a voracious water drinker when it is fruiting.  Without enough water, your avocado tree will begin "dropping" fruit.  If you are experiencing fruit drop with your avocado tree, most likely the issue is a lack of water.  


Ground compaction can also prevent the water from reaching down to the feeder roots as well as well as not watering at the "drip line".  Mulching should be applied at the drip line as well.  Do not bury your tree with mulch all the way up to the trunk.  Mulch at the drip line, that area where the branches end.  Follow these tips and you too can have a successful fruit harvesting season as well.



Other Related Articles:

Pruning Fruit Trees





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Posted 2012-07-06T23:03:45+0000  by Rick_HD_OC Rick_HD_OC