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How About Apple Tree's In Your Backyard ?

When selecting trees for planting, be sure to choose those which are adapted to your area. As with any long-term investment, apple trees should be chosen with care. Avoid so-called bargains. Buy your trees from a reputble grower (Leuthardt fruit trees, L.I. Grown for 6 generations 878-1387) which specializes in fruit trees. You have your choice of variety, size and age when buying trees. Be familiar with these three variables, and choose them to suit your particular requirements. The best time to order trees is early in the fall, when a wide variety of trees is available.

The best time to plant your trees will be after their leaves have fallen or from late October into November. If freshly dug trees are planted early enough, planting can be done successfully in the spring. Nevertheless, soil at this time dries up slowly and the growing season is generally well advanced by the time the soil becomes fit to work for the setting of the orchard. A more important reason for planting in the fall is that young apple trees withstand the shock of transplanting best when they are dormant, resting as it were, from the growth which has gone on during the months before

For pollination purposes, it's a good idea to plant at least 3 to 4-trees near one another. I prefer the triangular plan when space is limited. Trees must be far enough apart to permit the sun to reach the lower branches. Vigorous dwarf apple varieties, such as Baldwin, MacIntosh and York Imperial, planted 12-feet apart in fertile soil, may crowd when only about 15-years old but, planted 15-feet apart they will not crowd even in 20-years. Less vigorou trees, such as Rome Beauty, Winesap and Golen Delicious, planted 15-feet apart, would not crowd seriously.

Apples like a well-limed soil that is rich in humus. The quality of the subsoil often is more important than that of the topsoil, however, as the roots of apple trees penetrate deeply into subsoil in search of nutrients and water. Trees will not thrive in hardpan clay, nor in gravel or sand subsoil.

Cover cropping for the larger orchard is an excellent practice for preparing the soil before planting trees. A winter cover crop of rye at 1 1/2-bushels per acre can be used, sowing the seed between August 20th and September 15th.

Most apple tree growers prefer a mulch around their fruit trees. Between the first and fourth years, fruit trees are especially sensitive to competition from other vegetation. Competing growth within 5-feet of the trunk in the form of weeds, grass or even cover crop legumes like alfalfa, can

prevent the young trees from making normal growth. Therefore, if a cover crop is used, turn it under in early spring before growth starts. Though 1-pound of dry weeds or grass takes up little nutrients, almost 800-pounds of water must pass through the leaves of the plants to produce that single pound of growth. When planting trees in a former lawn area, I advise to keep about a 5-foot circle around the base of the young tree free from grass, and to maintain a heavy straw mulch.

Nitrogen (N) requirements of your apple trees can easily be satisfied with spring applications of compost; use about 5-pounds for each year of the tree's age. Spread the organic fertilizer under the mulch in a band starting 1-foot from the trunk and extending out to the branch tips. Heavy applications of greensand, wood ashes or other potash material should be added along with the nitrogen fertilizer to avoid creating a potassium (K) deficiency. To complete the feeding program, apply bone meal (P) at about 10 to 15-pounds per tree.The best time to apply organic fertilizer is 6 to 8-weeks before the tree blooms.

If you have been living without the benefits of one of the many varieties of apple trees, So, - why not brows ? You'll find it worthwhile to give up some of your lawn space to qrow this king of the orchard.

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1995