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How to get your tree nutrition right in the 2013 season?

Mario Miranda Sazo, Cultural Practices
Lake Ontario Fruit Program

November 20, 2013

Work on apple tree nutrition has shown that (1) fruit harvest removes significant amounts of potassium from the orchard every year, (2) sandy or gravel soils have low potassium supply power, (3) NY soils generally have low potassium levels, and (4) low organic matter leads to low potassium supply. Potassium has the highest concentration in fruit and more than two thirds of the total tree K requirement is found in fruit. Apple trees have a constant demand for potassium from bloom to fruit harvest and about 55 to 60 lbs of potassium is removed at a fruit yield of 1000 bushels/acre. This number increases to about 75 to 80 lbs at a fruit yield of 1500 bushels/acre, which is equivalent to about 100 lbs of K2O. Therefore, it is critical to have a maintenance program to make up for the K removed from your orchards even if your soil K levels are adequate. In anticipating a heavy crop this year, the trees will need a significant amount of K. If you use regular ground application, put down the K in the spring if you have not applied any K last fall.
There are two windows for regular soil nitrogen application that would fit the tree nitrogen demand pattern: one is from budbreak (early April) to the beginning of rapid shoot growth (late May) and the other is late season when soil N application no longer affects fruit quality (just before or shortly after fruit harvest). Nitrogen applied early in the season contributes directly to rapid leaf area development (both spurs and shoots), fruit set, and fruit growth in the current season while nitrogen applied late in the fall helps to build up nitrogen reserves. Therefore, soil application of nitrogen between budbreak and petal fall is probably the best way to meet the tree nitrogen demand early in the season. For orchard soils in NY and the Northeast, the amount of fertilizer N required is anywhere between 0 and 80 lbs, which would contribute 0 to 30 lbs of actual nitrogen to the trees, assuming the fertilizer uptake efficiency is between 30 to 40%. If more than 40 lbs actual N per acre is to be applied, a split application, half at a couple weeks after budbreak and the other half at petal fall or shortly thereafter, is recommended. Optimum growth of apple trees is associated with leaf nitrogen values of approximately 1.8 to 2.6 percent depending on tree age, type of fruit, and the intended market. For example, rapid growth of young trees is highly desirable for developing the canopy to capture sunlight for promoting early cropping. The optimum leaf N for young apple trees is approximately 2.4 to 2.6 percent. As trees mature, less vegetative growth is desired and the “satisfactory” level of nitrogen is generally reduced to improve color development and fruit firmness. Consider early foliar N spray for fruit set and early fruit growth when leaf analysis shows less than 2.2 percent leaf N the previous year. Foliar N spray can extend the effective pollination period and promote fruit cell division.
Lime and its benefits: Thorough incorporation of adequate amounts of lime prior to planting a new orchard is essential. The topsoil (0-8 inch depth) should be adjusted to pH 7 and subsoil (8-16 inch depth) to pH 6.5. An adequate liming program based on soil tests should be the first consideration in developing orchard fertilization plans. Lime is the most economical source of calcium and magnesium. Regulation of soil pH through liming is also necessary to achieve optimal response to other nutrient elements.
Placement of lime: Time required for lime to act is influenced by method of placement (i.e. soil contact) and by fineness of the material.  In preparing soil before planting a new orchard, maximum benefit is obtained by thoroughly harrowing or rototilling the lime into the surface soil, and then plowing to work it as deeply as possible into the soil. If large quantities of lime are required it should be applied in split applications. Working one-half to two-thirds of the total amount of lime into the soil as indicated above, plus thoroughly harrowing the remainder into the topsoil after plowing, is often suggested as an appropriate method for liming during preplant soil preparation. With some fine-textured soils that require large quantities of lime, application of about two-thirds of the total lime required in such a manner, followed by biennial surface applications of additional lime may be necessary to achieve the desired goal.
Surface applications of lime in established orchards move slowly into the soil and must be considered as long term corrective or maintenance programs. Regularly scheduled applications of lime of 2 tons per acre every two years, as predicted by soil and leaf analysis, represent the best available means of maintaining pH values of 6.0-6.5 and calcium and magnesium supplies in the soil. The type of lime (i.e., calcitic or dolomitic) should be determined by the need for magnesium. In most cases, even if soil magnesium is fairly high, dolomitic lime is suggested for orchards. Dolomitic lime generally has a greater neutralizing value than calcitic lime.
Tree Fruit Nutrition Summary: Fertilizer programs in NY are based on supplying just-enough nutrition to optimize cost and production.  Here are some guidelines on fruit nutrition from Steve Hoying, Horticulturalist at Cornell’s Hudson Valley Lab.
Determining nitrogen needs of apples is best done using leaf analysis combined with examination of last year's shoot growth and crop. Cornell apple leaf N recommendations are: (1) 2.4-2.6% for young non-bearing apples, (2) 2.2-2.4% for young bearing apples, (3) 1.8-2.2% for mature soft variety types (like Cortland, Honeycrisp, Jonamac and McIntosh), (4) 2.2-2.4% for hard varieties (like Red Delicious, Empire, Gala, Rome).
In the absence of last year’s leaf analyses, infer N need based on last year's shoot growth and fruit condition, and on older nutritional analyses: (1) Bearing trees with low N status may have terminal shoot growth less than 8 inches long, and may have produced highly-colored, early-maturing fruit. However, trees that did not receive adequate supplemental irrigation may also show limited shoot growth, (2) Bearing trees with excessive N status have shoot growth over 18" and poorly-colored fruit, (3) Also, consider leaf and soil analyses from 2 or more years ago. Combined with growth observations, older nutritional data will give useful, if not ideal, indications of N needs. Plan to do leaf analyses this year if you find yourself relying on older data, (4) The optimal timing for N application may be green tip through bloom, or a split application at green tip followed by a second between bloom and petal fall.  Avoid application of N after shoot growth begins because it may contribute to higher fruit N levels. Another strategy would be to apply N shortly before harvest or right after harvest to provide higher reserve N levels for the next year.
A "standard" fertilizer program for bearing apples where leaf analysis shows no major deficiencies and no deficiency symptoms are visible could include: (1) a soil application of 20-40 lbs of actual N; 50-80 lbs KCL; 2 lbs B, (2) at green tip - 4 lbs C-O-C-S or Kocide per 100 gal, (3) at tight cluster to pink - one spray of 3 lbs. feed grade low biuret Urea plus 1 lb. Solubor per 100 gal, (4) At first cover - foliar spray of Zn-EDTA at label rate, (5) at petal fall, first and second cover - 3 sprays Epsom salts per 100 gal., especially on McIntosh to reduce drop, (6) beginning at 1st or 2nd cover, 3 foliar sprays of 1-2 lbs calcium chloride per 100 gal, (7) during the period of shoot growth - 3 more calcium chloride sprays at 3-4 lbs per 100 gal.;  Bitterpit-susceptible varieties should receive 6 or more calcium sprays per season, and (8) after harvest - supplemental potassium as needed; 2-3 tons dolomitic lime every 2-3 years.
Recommended Leaf N Levels for Stone Fruit: (1) 2.4-3.4% for apricots, cherries and plums, (2) Above 3.0% and closer to 4.0% for peaches, (3) The best peaches are produced on pencil-sized one-year old wood. The presence/absence of adequate amounts of such wood is another way to determine how your N fertilizer program should be adjusted.
Stone fruit nutrient needs are similar to apple but have important differences: (1) The common apple orchard broadcast fertilizer mix (1-0-2 of N-P-K plus B) is not recommended for stone fruit.  Do not apply higher rates of custom-mixed apple fertilizer blend to stone fruit in order to meet their higher N needs, (2) Unlike apples, stone fruit do not require a large amount of potassium. Careful analysis of leaf samples is important to judge the amount of potassium needed.  In addition, stone fruit are very sensitive to chlorides; the sulfate form should be substituted for the muriate form when large applications of K2O are called for in the leaf analysis, (3) Both excess and deficiency of Boron can reduce fruit quality in stone fruit.  Rates of boron for soil application in stone fruit orchards should not exceed 1 lb per acre (equals 1/2 of the rate suggested for apples and pears) unless both soil and leaf analysis results indicated that greater amounts are required.
For more in-depth information on orchard nutrition programs, review the 2013 Cornell Crop and Pest Management Guidelines (Chapter 10: Nutrient Management of Apple Orchards) and your old copy of Orchard Nutrition Management; Bulletin 219 CCE published by Stiles and Reid.


more crops
Apples

Apples

Apricots

Apricots

Asian Pears

Asian Pears

Blueberries

Blueberries

Cherries

Cherries

Currants

Currants

Gooseberries

Gooseberries

Nectarines

Nectarines

Peaches

Peaches

Pears

Pears

Plums

Plums

Raspberries / Blackberries

Raspberries / Blackberries

Strawberries

Strawberries

Unusual Fruit

Unusual Fruit

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Upcoming Events

2024 Tree Fruit & Small Fruit Twilight Meetings

Event Offers DEC Credits

April 25, 2024 : Tree Fruit & Small Fruit Twilight Meetings 1 of 4
Newark, NY

Join specialists Janet Van Zoeren, Anya Osatuke, and Anna Wallis for a conversation about fruit and berry phenology and pest management, at a new location each month.


Event Offers DEC Credits

May 30, 2024 : Tree Fruit & Small Fruit Twilight Meetings 2 of 4
Lockport, NY

Join specialists Janet Van Zoeren, Anya Osatuke, Robert Hadad, and Anna Wallis for a conversation about fruit and berry phenology, pest management, food safety and water quality, at a new location each month.


Event Offers DEC Credits

June 27, 2024 : Tree Fruit & Small Fruit Twilight Meetings 3 of 4
Penn Yan, NY

Join specialists Janet Van Zoeren, Anya Osatuke, Robert Hadad, and Anna Wallis for a conversation about fruit and berry phenology, pest management, food safety and water quality, at a new location each month.


Event Offers DEC Credits

July 25, 2024 : Tree Fruit & Small Fruit Twilight Meetings 4 of 4
Mexico, NY

Join specialists Janet Van Zoeren, Anya Osatuke, Robert Hadad, and Anna Wallis for a conversation about fruit and berry phenology, pest management, food safety and water quality, at a new location each month.

View 2024 Tree Fruit & Small Fruit Twilight Meetings Details

Apple Social

July 16, 2024 : Orleans County - Apple Social
Medina, NY

Please join us at this casual networking event for all apple industry folks from Western NY, proudly sponsored by Valent. There will just a brief introduction of the Lake Ontario Fruit Program, and from each of the four specialists.


July 31, 2024 : Wayne County - Apple Social
Williamson, NY

Please join us at this casual networking event for all apple industry folks from Western NY, proudly sponsored by Valent. There will just a brief introduction of the Lake Ontario Fruit Program, and from each of the four specialists.

View Apple Social Details

2nd Annual WNY Fruit Grower Tour

Event Offers DEC Credits

August 13, 2024
Medina, NY

We are excited to announce the second annual Western New York Fruit Grower Tour, the premier fruit tour of the northeast brought to you by Cornell Cooperative Extension's Lake Ontario Fruit Program and Lake Ontario Ag Consulting, LLC!  Located in Orleans County, this orchard field day will highlight new and existing products, chemistries, practices, technologies & equipment that shape the orchard industry today. The Western NY Fruit Grower Tour will again combine two past orchard tour events, the LOF Summer Fruit Tour and the Wayne County Fruit Grower Tour, giving industry members the opportunity to conveniently showcase their product offerings to ONE unified group at ONE time and place!

View 2nd Annual WNY Fruit Grower Tour Details

Announcements

Scaffolds podcast

Many of you probably read Art Agnello's statewide tree fruit updates and recommendations newsletter, "Scaffolds". Dr. Monique Rivera is bringing it back, but in a new audio version. Episode one was recorded this week, and is now available for free online at https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/scaffolds


NYS Tree Decline Survey

Your answers could help find the solution to tree decline in the orchard.
NYS Tree Decline Survey


Save the Date! - Scroll down for Upcoming Events

Have you missed a meeting recently? Scroll down for available recordings or pdf links or visits our YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/c/LakeOntarioFruitProgram

2024 Events:

18 Jun - Postponed WNY Bilingual Soil Health & Beneficial Fungi Meeting - Check back for future reschedule date!

20 Jun - 2024 Virtual Orchard Meetup Series 'Water Wisdom" Smart Watering: Practices for Irrigation Management - 7PM, Zoom

25 Jun - Virtual IPM Orchard Scout Training 2 - 1:30 - 3pm, Zoom

27 Jun - Tree Fruit & Small Fruit Twilight Meeting 3_4 - 6:30pm-8:30PM, Penn Yan

27 Jun - 2024 Virtual Orchard Meetup Series 'Water Wisdom" Water Wisdom Unplugged: Panelist Q&A - 7PM, Zoom

29 Jun - NYS Honeyberry Conference - 8:30am - 4:30pm, Mexico, Space is limited, register now!

16 July - Apple Social - 6-9 PM, LynOaken Farm Market & Winery, Medina.

25 Jul - Tree Fruit & Small Fruit Twilight Meeting 4_4 - 6:30pm-8:30PM, Mexico

31 July - Apple Social - 6-9 PM, VanAcker Farms, Williamson.

13 Aug - 2nd Annual WNY Fruit Grower Tour - Orleans County

17 Aug - Annual Hispanic Summer Tour - Orleans County, Details to follow!

Feb 4-5, 2025 - Western NY Fruit Conference - DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Rochester



Food Safety Virtual Office Hours

Cornell Institute of Food Safety "Virtual Office Hours", Tuesdays Noon to 1pm https://cals.cornell.edu/institute-for-food-safety/resources/virtual-office-hours

Past recorded virtual office hours can be found on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZJs5b7KUuvfcquH3ZtQHo5dSmF2m5MdQ


Webinar Recordings & Additional Meeting Materials

Check out the recordings of some recent webinars and/or conference materials from in person events: Recordings and Playlists are available at https://www.youtube.com/c/LakeOntarioFruitProgram

2024 Virtual Orchard Meetup Series - Water Wisdom: 
1/4 - Trends In Water Availability
2/4 - The Role of Water In Tree Fruit Physiology & Quality
3/4 - Smart Watering: Practices for Irrigation Management


2024 8-12 mm Thinning Meeting

2024 Capital Region & Western NY Petal Fall Thinning Meeting

2024 Statewide Pink Meeting

2024 Cornell Statewide Frost Protection Webinar

2024 Winter Fruit Webinars playlist on the NYS IPM Program YouTube Channel

2nd Annual Lake Ontario Fruit Program's Winter Fruit Conference - 2024 pdfs

PACMAN Details and Resources, Meeting Recording Links below:
Developers Conference for Precision Crop Load Management of Apples Playlist - 2024
PACMAN Briefing - 2023








Pollinator Resouces

Now available Pollinator Resource Links


Meeting Recordings Now Available

Did you miss the recent meeting?  Check and see if we recorded it and added it to our website or Lake Ontario Fruit Program YouTube Channel.

Honeycrisp Meetup recordings available here.

Why are my trees growing so poorly? recording available here.

Additional Recorded Webinars listing with recording and resource link are available at
https://lof.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=838&crumb=crops|crops|apples|crop*38



New Publication on Growing Pawpaws

Are you a fan of pawpaws? These custardy fruits can be hard to come across, so this guide provides information on how to grow your own pawpaw from seed, and how to care for grafted seedlings. Pdf on growing now available.​ https://lof.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=799&crumb=crops|crops|unusual_fruit|crop*50

New Weed Management Technology Survey

Want to move away from herbicide reliance? Are you using novel technologies to manage weeds? We want to know about it to inform our weed science research. A team of weed scientists from University of California Davis, Oregon State University, and Cornell University are asking berry, tree fruit, tree nut, and vine crop growers to take 5 to 10 minutes and answer this short and anonymous survey. Weed Technology Survey link: https://cornell.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bEpfAijoP7puQDP

For more information on this survey please visit http://blogs.cornell.edu/swd1/2020/12/02/new-weed-management-technology/


Pollinator Webinar Series - Summer 2020

The Pollinator Webinar Series presented by Penn State cover bee health and pollination services.



Bloom Pesticides for Pollinator Health

A reference table created by Janet van Zoeren and Anna Wallis, is now available at https://lof.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=711&crumb=pests|pests.

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