August marks the start of the fall picking season for fruit trees. Though it is a lucrative time for growers, it can be a harrowing time for the fruit trees themselves. Keeping fruit trees healthy during harvest time is a full-time job. If the trees are not well taken care of now, they may not survive the harsh weather of winter which will, in turn, turn business sour for you next year. We have many supplies that can help you keep trees healthy but keeping fruit trees healthy during harvest time depends a lot on the grower.
Check out the tips below on keeping fruit trees healthy during harvest time.
Watering your fruit trees in the fall.
After the stress of the picking/harvest season, you must make sure that your tree remains well watered into mid-October. This can be difficult for larger commercial growers who have hundreds of trees so watch the forecast throughout the season to see if there will be sufficient rainfall. If you have a smaller number of trees, here is a way to see if you are watering them efficiently. Place a bucket under the tree while watering it and water the tree until the container accumulates 2 to 3 inches of water. When you have reached that amount, it means the water has reached the root zone. Any less than that and you will only dampen the soil close to the surface.
Rake the fallen leaves all throughout the harvest season.
Before picking customers arrive to gather their fruit, make it a habit to rake the leaves away from the bottom of the tree. This helps the fruit tree out in a couple of different ways. It prevents leaf-borne diseases and reduces the habitat for insects and mice. Leaf diseases recur and can spread easily and mice and insects can wreak havoc on the fruit that you want to be harvested. Keeping the grass short beneath the tree can also reduce insect and mice infestations.
Encourage customers to pick fruit carefully.
It never hurts to post a sign or hand out a pamphlet that explains how the fruit should be picked. Picking fruit properly can benefit both the tree and the customer. Fruit that is properly picked will last longer and the tree it comes from will also sustain less damage. When writing out your picking instructions, try to include the following: leave the stem on the fruit and the leaf spurs are breaking off with the stem, it is likely that the fruit is being picked too soon. Grasp the fruit from the bottom and lift it until it is upside down. After that, the twig should break away easily. Never tear or pull hard on the tree’s branches.
Dispose of overripe fruit.
Overripe fruit can attract pests such as stinging insects and raccoons. Hundreds of stinging insects flying around can easily scare away your customers and with more pests hanging around, your healthy fruit is more likely to be eaten. It also puts a burden on the tree structure and can result in broken branches. Also, if customers are picking overripe fruit, it may not last long in storage. Try to dispose of overripe fruit right away. If you are concerned about the waste it may produce, consider composting the fruit.