Fruit Tree Tips
Your Extension Experts
May 23, 1997
April 11, 1997
February 20, 1997
June 14, 1996
June 3, 1996
Area nurseries and farm supply stores should be receiving their fruit trees now. Growing and harvesting your own tree-ripened fruit can be a very rewarding experience. To get the best quality apples, pears, peaches and plums you should follow a yearly schedule of pruning, spraying, fertilizing and thinning of fruit. You also should select your fruit trees based on where you live in Mississippi. Check with local nurserymen to see what they recommend and also check with your County Extension office for a publication P0966, Fruit and Nut Recommendations for Mississippi, which has information on recommended fruit tree varieties for Mississippi.
For whatever reasons you want to grow your own fruit, there are some things you need to consider. Choose a site for your trees that is well drained. Planting on a slope would help take care of that problem and planting on a northern slope would be even better. Since northern slopes take longer to warm up in spring, this would help to delay spring bloom; thereby lessening the chance of losing your blooms to an early spring freeze--an all too frequent occurrence.
You can purchase fruit trees, bareroot, in plastic sacks or in pots. Research has shown potted fruit trees have a much higher survival rate than the others, but, of course, the cost is usually higher. This holds true for potted pecan trees also.
When you plant your tree, dig the hole only as deep as the pot, but make the hole at least twice as wide as the pot. Digging the hole only as deep as the pot keeps the root ball from sinking too deeply in the hole as time passes. Widening the hole makes it easier for the new feeder roots to grow out of the sides of the root ball into the loosened backfill soil.
Pruning, fertilizing and spray schedules are chores that can get complicated if you don't have some guidance. The county agent's office has free publications and information sheets that take the mystery out of all these procedures. Especially helpful are the insect and disease control publications for fruit trees. For the apple and pear schedule ask for Publication 736 and for insect and disease control on peaches and plums insect ask for Publication 568. All Extension publications can be viewed and downloaded from the msucaes.com website as well.
Lelia Scott Kelly, Ph.D., writes Garden Tips weekly and is a Horticulture Specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Her office is in the North Mississippi Research & Extension Center, Verona.