East Texas Ag News: Caring for fruit trees after the freeze
ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - As I look at my fig tree that is indeed beginning to send up some shoots from the ground, it is obvious that I will not be harvesting any figs this year.
Then I go to my peach tree that the freeze killed all the blooms off, and again, I will not get any peaches this year.
One can be negative and go on and on about the diminished fruit production that many folks are expecting this year from their fruit trees. Figs, plums, pears, blueberries, peaches, and many more are going to be greatly diminished in their fruit production. But let us not give up taking care of these trees and shrubs as our efforts this year will make a huge impact on next year’s production.
Commercial fruit growers are keenly aware of the fact that each summer, they are responsible for two growing seasons worth of fruit. They are responsible for the current year’s harvest and care of that fruit. In addition, their attention to water, nutrients, and pest control, makes a huge impact on the following year’s fruit production. So, we as homeowners, and perhaps amateur fruit producers, should also keep the long game in mind as we are looking at facing losses of fruit production this year.
Around the base of your trees and shrubs, weed control coupled with mulching should continue this year. This is always a most crucial endeavor for any fruit grower. As you clear out the area at the base of the trees and shrubs, please note if any new sprouts are coming up beneath the grafted portion of your tree.
If you found sprouts beneath the graft, then you really need to consider if you will keep that tree or if you will graft some improved fruit variety onto the rootstock. I have heard of several citrus growers who have lost all above-ground growth and are seeing root sprouts from beneath the grafted portion. No, I do not know what fruit that rootstock will produce. And it may be a perfectly acceptable fruit, but you can be assured it is not the same as you had been getting or else it would not have needed to be grafted.
It will be a similar fruit species to what was grafted onto it, but we do not know what variety it is. Said another way, there was some type of citrus rootstock below your grafted citrus tree. There was some type of stone-fruit rootstock beneath your grafted peach tree. But the rootstock was selected for its ability to withstand drought, insect, and disease pressure below the soil. It may very well produce an acceptable fruit but it was not the one that you purchased for harvest at the nursery.
Likewise, we should not neglect the pruning and training of limbs as we go through this year either. My peach tree needs to be kept in check this summer so that it does not grow unwieldy in the next growing season. Just because I lost all my peach blooms, does not mean that I should neglect the limb structure.
Not knowing what the rainfall will be this summer, we need to have a plan in place (if you do not already have one) to irrigate your fruit trees during a dry summer. With the reduced limbs that my fig bushes have, I need to be all the more ready to pamper them so that they can have adequate moisture for continued growth during the entire growing season.
Lastly, disease and insect pressure must be kept in check. A simple fix for this is the “fruit tree spray” that you can find at most any feed store or garden center. Look for a fruit tree spray that has both an insecticide and fungicide in it to save you time with your number of applications.
I was discussing the lack of figs this year with a friend recently. I thought about sharing with him my supply of figs that I stocked up from last year and put in the freezer. And I was about to do so until I remembered that the same winter storm that eliminated my fig production this year, also knocked out my power long enough that we lost everything in the freezer.
Anyone expect to have fresh figs? I’m just asking for a friend.
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