See Planting Patterns.pdf to compare the number of trees per acre for each pattern.
Planting Site Preparation
The timing and sequence of steps are very important--performing the right step at the wrong time can actually create rather than prevent problems. The best time to start ground preparation is the middle of summer: soil is dry and fractures readily, warm and dry weather permits effective soil fumigation, and sufficient time is left for any post-fumigation waiting period.
BREAK UP SOD
If the orchard site is covered with sod, allow it to dry thoroughly before discing. Undercutting the sod with a blade cuts the sod from its roots and hastens drying. Disc and harrow with equipment that is sufficiently heavy to completely break up the sod. Leveling without first breaking up sod can bury large pieces of sod which are potentially harmful to young trees due to the methane gas produced as the sod decomposes. Ripping the site after leveling will not adequately break up sod.
RIP BEFORE AND AFTER LEVELING
If more than a foot of fill is necessary, rip low spots before leveling. Ripping high spots before leveling isn't necessary although it may reduce leveling costs if the soil is very hard or compacted. To prevent sealing of the soil surface, rip the entire site as soon as possible after leveling. Sealing of the soil surface can be a serious problem if there is a long delay between leveling and ripping, after leveling with heavy equipment such as laser planes, and where sites are leveled when too wet.
APPLY SOIL AMENDMENTS
If gypsum, manures, phosphates or other soil amendments are recommended, they may be applied prior to subsoiling.
Deep rip, backhoe, or slip plow to fracture subsoil and improve drainage. If you backhoe, backfill each hole as it is dug, taking care to replace subsoil in the bottom of hole, topsoil on top. Don't leave holes open any longer than is absolutely necessary. If a hole is allowed to dry out, a crust usually forms along the sides of the hole which can become a barrier to water and root movement. (This also applies to tree planting holes.)
To settle the planting site and provide adequate moisture for fumigation, irrigate with sufficient water to completely settle the soil. Although winter rains in California are usually sufficient to settle an orchard site, a thorough irrigation after ripping or backhoeing is good insurance against problems with settling after planting.
DISC AND HARROW
Work up soil to good seedbed condition.
Preplant fumigation is highly recommended for any orchard planting but is particularly advantageous in replant situations. Note that some fumigants are persistent, especially in heavier soils, and opening of the soil surface as well as a test for toxicity may be required before planting.
KEEP ROOTS DAMP WHILE PLANTING
Organize your planting crew so that roots are exposed for only a few minutes while planting. Drying out of roots most often occurs at this step.
PRUNE TREES FOR PLANTING:
Trim only broken or extra long roots. Do not prune or crowd roots to fit a small planting hole.
► JUNEBUD ALMONDS: Top trees to 28-32 inches above the bud union and head back side branches to a single good bud.
► JUNEBUD FRUIT TREES are usually topped to 18 to 24 inches. Be sure to leave at least one good bud on each side branch.
► YEARLINGS may need to be headed higher to leave sufficient good buds to establish scaffold limbs. Leave at least two good buds per limb on yearling trees. Where trees are well branched, limbs may be left 4 to 6 inches long.
► WALNUTS should be cut back to leave approximately 4-6 buds on the scion. Walnuts should be staked before growth starts. During the first summer, train the most vigorous shoot up the stake and pinch back other shoots.
CROWN GALL PREVENTATIVE TREATMENT
Where crown gall has been a problem, a preplant treatment may be beneficial. Check with us for recommendations.
PREPARE THE PLANTING HOLE
Dig holes no deeper than necessary to plant trees without crowding roots and do not leave holes open for more than a couple of hours. Break down the sides of holes dug with an auger. Rootbound trees and winding roots have been observed following auger planting -- even in light, sandy soils.
PLANT AT THE RIGHT DEPTH
After trees are planted and watered in they should be no deeper than they were in the nursery row. In planting trees on peach rootstock, too shallow is better than too deep. A good rule of thumb is to leave the topmost tiny root at ground level. On heavier soils, trees should be planted on 6 to 8 inch high mounds or berms.
► Where prevailing winds are strong and constant, lean trees into the wind. Too much lean can encourage growth along only the top side of trees, however, by restricting bud development on the underside. Allow no more than 10 degrees of lean into the wind. Tilting a 30-inch tall tree 6 inches from vertical gives about 10 degrees of lean.
► If a tree is too deep after planting, it's OK to gently pull it up to the proper height. In fact, pulling trees up a couple of inches before tamping soil is recommended to align roots in a downward direction. If a tree is planted too shallow, dig the tree out and start over. Adjustments should be made before watering in trees.
► Do not place any fertilizer in the planting hole; it can injure tender young roots.
WATER TREES IN
Flood or furrow irrigate following planting to settle the soil and collapse air pockets around roots. If flooding isn't practical, tank trees in with at least five gallons of water for each tree. This step is very important, particularly in late plantings or cloddy soil. Winter rains in California's Central Valley are rarely sufficient to properly settle the soil in around the roots.
MILK CARTONS & WHITE LATEX PAINT
Protect young trees from rodents and herbicides by dropping an open-ended milk carton over the tree after planting. White latex paint delays leafing out and helps prevent sunscald and borer damage. Any white latex paint (interior, exterior, or combination), white tree paint or whitewash is acceptable although exterior types last longer. Do not use oil base paints. All walnuts should be painted after planting to prevent sunscald. Painting is especially beneficial in late plantings. To delay leafing out, paint the entire top of the tree.
Sunburn of trees at the tops of milk cartons has been observed in Central California - especially in late plantings from cold storage. We recommend painting all newly-planted trees and, if cartons are used, trees must be painted, particularly near the top of cartons.
FERTILIZE AFTER TREES HAVE STARTED TO GROW
Scatter a ring of about 1/4 to 1/2 lb. of balanced fertilizer around trees after they have at least 12 to 15 inches of new growth. To prevent over-fertilizing, use a tin can that holds just the right amount of material. Keep fertilizer at least 15-18 inches away from the trunk of the tree. We recommend a second and third application during the first summer.
First year summer pruning is recommended for many types of fruit. Contact us for details.
Care of Trees Before Planting
PROTECT TREES FROM THE ELEMENTS
Since tree roots should not be allowed to dry out or freeze, they must he sheltered from sun, wind and frost. Transport trees only in a covered vehicle or wrapped in a tarp. If you plan to plant within a couple of days, it's OK to store your trees in a completely enclosed building that maintains temperatures above freezing and hose down the trees daily. Trees also may be protected from a light frost by a heavy cloth tarp but all edges of the tarp should be buried. If you aren't watering the trees personally, check them at least once a day to make sure all roots are damp.
Trees that must he held longer than a couple of days Should be "heeled in", a temporary planting in loose, moist soil. A well-drained location is essential to prevent root rot; heel in where rain or runoff will not flood the trench. Heel in trees in clean soil or preferably at the fumigated orchard site. Be sure to cover roots completely. To prevent air pockets, pack soil around roots as the trees are placed in the trench. If the soil isn't moist (it should form a ball when squeezed), water in trees after they are heeled in. Heeled-in trees may need to be watered again to keep soil damp around roots if planting is delayed. After watering or rain, check heeled-in trees to make sure roots are not exposed. Roots are susceptible to frost damage if they are not covered.
Contact us as early as possible to arrange cold storage for late plantings. As trees start to break dormancy in early spring, internal changes and root development occur before any sign of growth appears in the tops of trees. Best results in late plantings are obtained when trees are placed in cold storage while still fully dormant, before these changes occur.
For more information about any of our recommendations, please contact your field representative.