Fertilizing Fruit Trees

I have an orchard of prunes, apricots and cherries, which has been

bearing since some 30 years ago, without fertilization, except possibly

muddy sediment from occasional irrigations of mountain streams. Various

people are advocating the use of nitrates and other fertilizers. Should

I have samples of this earth analyzed in order to ascertain what the

soil most needs?

To find out whether your trees need fertilization, study the tree and

the product and do not depend upon chemical analysis of the soil. If

your trees are growing thriftily and have sufficiently goodsized leaves

of good color, and if fruit of good size and quality is obtained, it is

not necesssary to think of fertilization. If the trees are not

satisfactory in all these respects, the first thing to do is to

determine whether they have moisture enough during the later part of the

summer. This should be determined by digging or boring to a depth or

three or four feet in July or August. The subsoil should be reasonably

moist in order to sustain the tree during the late summer and early fall

when strong fruit buds for the coming year will be finished. If you are

sure the moisture supply is ample, then fertilization either with stable

manure or with commercial fertilizers containing especially nitrates and

phosphates should be undertaken experimentally, in accordance with

suggestions for application made to you by dealers in these articles,

who are usually well informed by observation. When you have the tree to

advise you of the condition of the soil, you do not need a chemist,

although if the tree manifests serious distress and is unable to make

satisfactory growth the suggestions of a chemist may be very helpful.

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