How to Schedule Fruit Tree Maintenance

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Fruit trees can live for many years and, during their life span, produce hundreds of pounds of fruit. But they need a modicum of care: moist and nutritious soil, pruning, grooming, thinning and protection from pests. How much a tree needs of each depends on the kind of fruit and the season, where you live and, to a lesser degree, the specific variety.

  • Spray during spring. No matter what kind of fruit tree you have, you can call spring the "spray season." This is when you spray to, depending on the tree, prevent scab disease (apple), brown rot (cherry and apricot) and shot-hole fungus (apricot). For other trees, "spray" simply means water heavily (citrus and fig).

  • Water and fertilize during summer months. This is to ensure a healthy plant when it may be hot and dry. With figs, this is a harvest season. For smaller fruits, like cherry trees, you may need to cover the tree with netting to keep hungry birds at bay.

  • Harvest and prune during fall. This depends on your tree. Apples, cherries and figs (two harvests) are harvested during fall. Other trees need to be watered, fertilized and possibly pruned to prepare them for winter.

  • Prune and spray. Most important during winter is to prune out dead leaves so as to not hinder spring growth with vigorous overgrowth that has died. The exception here are citrus trees, which need to be harvest during winter. Protect all blooming plants from frost.

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