Winter can be hard on fruit trees. Ironically, many fruit trees such as apples and pears need a dormant period of cold temperatures to produce fruit. Still, you’ll want to protect your trees not only from really brutal cold but also from the dryness that often accompanies it. Here are some tips to prepare your fruit trees for winter:
- Add tree guards or paint
- Take away dead fruit
Add an organic mulch that not only locks in moisture but also breaks down over time to give the tree roots needed nutrition. Moreover, as the mulch breaks down, it makes the soil more acidic, which helps promote the production of fruit.
Good mulches to add around your fruit trees are wood chips, leaves and straw, but not hay. Straw is different from hay in that its stems are hollow and hold air. Make sure that the mulch is free of pesticides and herbicides.
When others kinds of food are scarce in the winter, some critters take to gnawing on tree bark. This can kill a young fruit tree, so one solution is to protect it with tree guards. The best guards are made of white plastic coils that deer and rodents can’t chew through. Because they are made of plastic spirals, they can expand as the tree grows if you forget to take them off. Another solution is to paint the lower trunk with white latex paint. This not only won’t hurt the tree, but it will also discourage pests. Some gardeners use the coil on saplings then simply paint the tree bark as the tree matures. White tree guards also protect the tree from sun scald. During the day, the sun heats up the bark of the tree, which causes it to expand. During the cold nights the bark shrinks and may crack, which damages it.
Clear Away Dead Fruit
It’s good practice to pick all the fruit from a tree whether it looks edible or not. This encourages the tree to produce more fruit the next season. Another reason to remove dead fruit is to lower the risk of pathogens. Dead fruit should not only be taken from the tree limbs but from the ground around it. Don’t let them go to waste. You can add them to the compost pile.
A couple of sessions of deep watering before a hard freeze help to hydrate and protect the tree’s roots. The best way to do this is with a soaker hose in the morning after the temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s especially important to deeply water saplings.
Contact Bluegrass Tree & Lawn
As the capital of Ohio, Columbus is a large city, but there are still people who have a fruit tree or two in their yard. Preparing them for Ohio’s hard winter will make sure they stay healthy and productive. For more information or help from our arborists, call Bluegrass Tree & Lawn today.