There are a few guidelines to always follow when planting a bare root fruit tree.
- Dig a hole about twice as wide as the root system requires. This will loosen the surrounding soil making it easier for roots to develop an outward growing pattern during the first year.
- The hole should be just deep enough to place the roots in while keeping the graft union above the soil level. If you make the hole too deep the tree will settle possibly putting the graft union below the soil line over time.
- Do not replace the soil taken from the hole with other top soil, sphagnum moss, or manure. If your soil lacks phosphorus it is ok to mix 1-2 lbs per tree of triple super phosphate. If your soil lacks potassium apply 1-2 lbs of muriate of potash per tree in the soil in the bottom of the hole.
- When placing the tree in the hole spread the roots out in all directions. If you make a pyramid of soil in the bottom of the hole it will help keep the roots spread while you back fill and plant the tree.
Don't put any nitrogen fertilizer in the planting hole. And during the first year allow the tree to grow for several months before applying nitrogen fertilizer on the surface of the soil. This will keep you from burning the young tender roots. Eventually applying three-quarters of a cup of urea (46-0-0), or one and three-quarters of a cup of ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) to each tree will be fine. Adding 5-10 lbs of aged manure or compost per tree is also recommended. Fresh manure will burn roots of your new tree. Generally spreading fertilizer at the drip line of the tree is a good practice. And, remember to water in the fertilizer.
During the first year in the ground your fruit tree should be monitored for insect pests that attack the tree. Watch for borers working near the graft union, or insects that reduce leaf area in the canopy. Keeping weeds away from your new trees will also reduce competition for water and nutrients and eliminate cover for voles. Trapping may be necessary if your orchard attracts gophers and ground squirrels. Moles may leave a number of mounds in your orchard but they are not eating the roots. Moles are eating worms, grubs and other soil dwelling insects.
Plant diseases can be a problem for young trees in Western Oregon . Apply fungicides to keep fungal problems like apple scab, anthracnose, and peach leaf curl to a minimum. Dormant and growing season sprays with copper sulfate will also help to fight bacterial blight (pseudomonas) a difficult disease for cherries, and peaches in Western Oregon.