For the best success, be sure to choose a tree that will grow in your USDA zone and has an appropriate number of chill hours for your climate. If a pollinator is needed for the tree, make sure it is planted within 50 feet of your tree and will bloom at the same time. Finally, choose your desired harvest intervals (all at once for canning, or spread out for fresh eating)!
Why buy our bare root trees?
Almost all of our bare root trees are 1 to 2-years-old, meaning you'll get fruit sooner!
Most of our trees are 1/2"-5/8" in diameter!
We guarantee our bare root trees will leaf out by May 15th!
Most of our bare root trees are semi-dwarf for an easy harvest!
We have over 150 varieties of bare root fruit trees to choose from!
Growing fruit and nut trees from bare root stock is an economical and rewarding way to establish a bountiful orchard in your garden or orchard. Bare root trees are dormant plants without soil around their roots, making them lightweight, easy to handle, and typically more affordable than potted or container-grown trees. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the essential steps, considerations, and techniques for successfully growing bare root fruit and nut trees, helping you establish a thriving and productive orchard.
1. Selecting Suitable Trees:
The first step in growing bare root fruit and nut trees is selecting the right tree varieties for your region and personal preferences. Consider factors such as your climate zone, available space, soil type, and desired fruit or nut types. Research the specific requirements of each tree variety to ensure they are compatible with your growing conditions.
2. Choosing Quality Bare Root Stock:
When purchasing bare root trees, it's crucial to select healthy and well-maintained stock. Look for the following characteristics:
Healthy Roots: Inspect the roots for any signs of disease, damage, or rot. Healthy roots should be firm, with numerous small feeder roots.
Straight Trunk: Ensure that the main trunk is straight and free from bends or deformities.
Balanced Branches: Check for a well-balanced framework of branches, evenly spaced around the main trunk.
Dormant Buds: Bare root trees are typically sold in the dormant season. Look for trees with dormant buds that are ready to burst into growth when planted.
3. Timing and Planting:
Bare root trees should be planted during their dormant season, which varies depending on the tree species and local climate. Typically, this falls in late winter or early spring, before bud break. Follow these steps for planting bare root trees:
Prepare the Site: Choose a sunny location with well-draining soil. Remove weeds, rocks, and debris from the planting area.
Dig a Hole: Dig a hole that is wide enough to accommodate the roots without bending or crowding. The depth should be sufficient to allow the tree to sit at the same level it was previously planted.
Soak Roots: Before planting, soak the tree roots in water for a few hours to ensure they are well-hydrated.
Position the Tree: Place the tree in the center of the hole, spreading out the roots evenly. Ensure that the graft union (if applicable) is above the soil surface.
Backfill with Soil: Gradually backfill the hole with soil, tamping it down gently to remove air pockets. Water the tree thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots.
4. Pruning and Training:
Pruning is an essential aspect of shaping and training your bare root fruit and nut trees. Prune the tree immediately after planting to establish a strong framework and encourage healthy growth. Key pruning techniques include:
Removing Dead or Damaged Branches: Trim away any dead or damaged branches to promote overall tree health.
Establishing Scaffold Branches: Choose three to five well-placed scaffold branches that form a balanced framework around the central leader. Remove competing or poorly positioned branches.
Central Leader: Maintain a strong central leader by removing any competing vertical shoots.
Spacing and Height: Space scaffold branches evenly along the trunk and maintain an appropriate height for ease of maintenance and harvesting.
5. Mulching and Watering:
Mulching and watering are vital for the initial establishment and long-term health of bare root fruit and nut trees.
Mulching: Apply a 2-4 inch layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or straw, around the base of the tree. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
Watering: Adequate watering is crucial, especially during the first few years of growth. Provide consistent moisture to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Deep watering is preferable to shallow, frequent watering.
6. Fertilization and Nutrient Management:
Understanding the nutrient needs of your fruit and nut trees is essential for ensuring their health and productivity.
Soil Testing: Conduct a soil test to determine the nutrient levels and pH of your soil. This information will guide your fertilizer choices.
Organic Fertilizers: Consider using organic fertilizers to provide essential nutrients to your trees. Apply fertilizers in early spring as the trees begin to break dormancy.
Micronutrient Management: Pay attention to micronutrients like iron, manganese, and zinc, as they can significantly impact tree health. Address any deficiencies through targeted nutrient applications.
7. Pest and Disease Management:
Protecting your bare root fruit and nut trees from pests and diseases is crucial for long-term success. Implement the following strategies:
Pruning and Sanitation: Regularly inspect and prune your trees to remove diseased or infested branches. Dispose of pruned material away from the orchard.
Monitoring: Keep an eye out for signs of pests and diseases, such as discolored leaves, unusual growths, or insect activity. Early detection allows for prompt intervention.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Adopt IPM strategies, which combine cultural, biological, and chemical control methods to manage pests and diseases sustainably.
8. Thinning and Harvesting:
As your bare root fruit and nut trees mature, they will produce an abundance of fruit. Proper thinning and harvesting techniques are essential to ensure fruit quality and tree health.
Thinning: Thin excess fruit to prevent overcrowding and improve the size and flavor of the remaining fruits. Thinning also helps reduce the risk of branch breakage due to the weight of the fruit.
Harvesting: Harvest fruit when it reaches the desired ripeness. Be gentle when picking to avoid damaging the tree or the fruit.
9. Winter Protection:
Protecting your bare root trees during the winter months is crucial, especially in colder climates.
Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the tree to insulate the roots and protect them from freezing temperatures.
Wrap and Cover: Consider wrapping the tree trunk with tree wrap or burlap to shield it from winter sunscald and rodent damage. You can also use tree shelters or covers for added protection.
10. Maintenance and Pruning as Trees Mature:
As your bare root fruit and nut trees mature, ongoing maintenance is essential for continued health and productivity.
Regular Pruning: Continue to prune your trees to maintain their shape, remove dead or diseased branches, and encourage new growth.
Fertilization: Adjust your fertilization routine based on soil test results and the tree's specific nutrient requirements.
Pest and Disease Management: Stay vigilant against pests and diseases, using IPM techniques as needed.
Growing bare root fruit and nut trees is a fulfilling endeavor that rewards gardeners and orchardists with delicious, homegrown produce. With careful selection, planting, care, and maintenance, you can establish a thriving orchard that provides an abundance of fresh, flavorful fruit and nuts for years to come. Whether you're a novice gardener or an experienced horticulturist, the satisfaction of nurturing and harvesting from your own orchard is a deeply rewarding experience.
For more information, see our collection of bare root tree articles at Fruit Tree Central.
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