Why did my fruit tree die?

Every tree has a strong "will" to live. Generally, only extreme conditions or events can cause a young tree to fail.

The most common causes of tree failure are slow-draining soil, overwatering and underwatering. When planting in slow-draining soil, be sure to elevate the trees by planting on a berm or in a raised bed. In slow-draining soil especially, water only when the soil is on the verge of becoming dry, then water deeply.

For new trees that are not yet established, be sure not to miss an irrigation just ahead of a hot spell.

Get to know your soil drainage and its water-holding ability by digging down 12-18 inches periodically between irrigations.

Irrigation isn't usually necessary during the dormant season.

It is possible that a bareroot fruit tree could desiccate between nursery digging and final planting; there are many steps and variable conditions in the processing, shipping and sale of bareroot trees. The fact that almost all bareroot trees do, in fact, start well confirms both the viability of bareroot trees and nursery practices.

Other possible causes of tree failure include "winter injury" (due to sunny days and nighttime freezes) and excessive pest and disease pressure. For local fruit growing information and basic care requirements regarding disease prevention consult your local fruit tree nursery, Cooperative Extension and Master Gardener program.

For information about fruit tree planting, see Planting Your Backyard Orchard.

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