If you're like many other homeowners, you may have a fruit tree in your yard to increase the resale value of your home. Although fruit trees are difficult to maintain for some people, proper care can help these plants grow well. In order for your fruit tree to grow well and produce maximum fruit, you should learn how to fertilize it.
Part 1 of 3: Determining the Base
Step 1. Perform a soil test
Before trying to fertilize a fruit tree, make sure that you do need it. Giving fertilizers that are not needed can actually cause plant growth to be disrupted. So, do a soil test first to be sure.
- To perform a soil test, you will need a small sample of soil from where the plant is growing. You can then take this soil sample to the local agricultural service laboratory for testing for a small fee.
- The results of this test will provide information on the pH level of the soil, as well as the nutrient content in it. The ideal soil pH range is between 6-6.5. Meanwhile, soil outside this pH range needs to be fertilized.
Step 2. Consider the age of the tree
How long the plant has been growing has a big effect on fertilization. If the plant is 1-2 years old when planted, you may need to delay applying fertilizer for a few years. Instead, prioritize controlling weed growth and getting enough moisture first.
- However, monitor the tree's growth rate each season. If the sapling is not growing fast enough, you may need to apply fertilizer, regardless of age.
- In general, the length of a tree branch should increase by about 25-30 cm per year (though you should check the growth rate targets for the plant specifically). If the length of the twig is less than that, you may need to apply fertilizer. However, if the length of the twig is greater than that, you may not need to apply fertilizer for several years.
Step 3. Determine the type of fertilizer
If you believe your plant needs to be fertilized, choose the right fertilizer as needed. To safely fertilize fruit trees, you need to use a balanced fertilizer. This fertilizer is composed of the same nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content (expressed in the N-P-K ratio).
- Fertilizer packaging should include the NPK ratio. There should be a number like 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 on the pack. This ratio indicates the content of the three is balanced and safe to use on fruit trees.
- You can also consider organic fertilizers such as blood meal (blood meal), cottonseed flour, chicken manure compost, or feather flour.
- To determine how much fertilizer you need, consider the age and diameter of the trunk. In general, you will need about 0.5 kg of fertilizer per year per 2.5 cm diameter tree trunk.
Part 2 of 3: Applying Fertilizer
Step 1. Wear protective gloves when handling fertilizer
Fertilizers can be harmful to the skin. So, always wear gloves throughout the fertilization process. You can buy thick garden gloves at most hardware stores.
You may also want to wear eye and mouth protection, especially in windy weather
Step 2. Mix fertilizer as recommended
After preparing the right amount of fertilizer, mix it according to the directions. Here, you must follow the directions on the fertilizer packaging. Many fertilizers must be diluted before use. To find out the right ratio of water to fertilizer, read the instructions for use.
- You must follow the instructions for using fertilizers, unless you use organic or household fertilizers. You should also follow the safety instructions for use carefully.
- If you're using a pelletized fertilizer, chances are you don't need to mix it first. You just need to take the pellets and sprinkle them around the plant.
Step 3. Pour the fertilizer into the soil about 30 cm from the tree trunk
Pouring fertilizer too close can harm the plant. So, pour fertilizer in a circle around the plant as far as 30 cm from the stem. Meanwhile, the amount of fertilizer you use is definitely determined by the age of the tree and the instructions for using the fertilizer itself.
If you're using a pellet fertilizer, simply sprinkle it in a circle 30 cm from the tree trunk
Step 4. Spread the fertilizer right past the circumference of the plant crown
This crown circle is formed by the longest branch of the tree. Again, you should pour the fertilizer about 30 cm from the stem, then level it just past the circumference of the crown. Plant roots extend at least as far as this crown circumference, so applying fertilizer in this way can promote root growth and strengthen the plant in the long term.
- You can use a rake or other tool to spread the fertilizer.
- Drawing the circumference of the plant crown at the soil surface first may help you determine how far the fertilizer should be spread.
Step 5. Use nitrogen to the maximum extent
The maximum amount of nitrogen that a fruit tree can accept is 0.5 kg. If you use fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10, the maximum amount is 5 kg. Meanwhile, if you use a fertilizer with a ratio of 12-12-12, the maximum amount is about 3.8 kg. Excessive use of fertilizers can actually reduce fruit growth.
Part 3 of 3: Cultivating Over Time
Step 1. Avoid applying fertilizer too early after planting fruit trees
Most experts recommend that no fertilizer be applied to fruit trees in the first year as the plant needs to develop its roots. However, in later years, you should also postpone fertilizing unless the plant is not growing. Applying too much fertilizer too early can actually affect fruit growth and slow down tree growth.
Step 2. Apply fertilizer at the right time
For best results, apply fertilizer early in the season before the plant begins to flower. Meanwhile, it is better to apply inorganic fertilizer in the rainy season so that its effectiveness is guaranteed, and manure in the dry season to improve the soil structure so that it becomes lighter.
Step 3. Monitor plant growth
To determine when to add fertilizer, you will need to measure plant growth. Tree plants have growth rings that mark the beginning of stem growth in the previous year.
To measure plant growth, measure each branch from the growth ring to the tip. Then average your measurements. This average value is the growth rate of your plant for that year
Step 4. Increase the amount of fertilizer as needed
Based on the growth rate of the plant, you may need to adjust the use of fertilizers. Make sure you know the normal application of fertilizer according to your fruit tree type.
- Young apple trees should grow by 30 cm per year. If it's less than that, increase your fertilizer by 50% between the second and third years.
- For pear trees, be sure to apply fertilizer if the growth is less than 15 cm per year.
- Meanwhile, for other fruit trees, delay the application of fertilizer until it begins to bear fruit. After the trees begin to bear fruit, start giving fertilizer at a ratio of 10-10-10 on each tree.
Step 5. Calculate how much fertilizer to use
The amount of fertilizer you need is determined by the age and size of the plant. Easy calculations can be used to determine the amount of fertilizer that needs to be used. Trees require about 0.05 kg of nitrogen per year of age (meaning 0.1 kg for a 2 year old plant, 0.15 kg for a 3 year old plant, etc.), or per 2.5 cm of trunk diameter. Divide the amount of nitrogen needed by the plant by the nitrogen content in the fertilizer you choose to determine the amount.