Deep Root Feeding: Nourishing Trees in the Fall and Winter

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Deep Root Feeding: Nourishing Trees in the Fall and Winter

Plants, much like any living organism, require essential elements – food, water, and air – and they demand care. Mature trees, specifically, rely heavily on nutrients for sustenance, drawing many of these vital elements from the soil. However, this continual extraction diminishes the soil’s nutrient levels, necessitating an annual nutrient replenishment process known as fertilization. Among the various techniques, Deep Root Fertilization stands out as a specialized method involving the direct application of organic and chemical fertilizers into the soil surrounding the tree’s zone.

Timing for Deep Root Fertilization

The optimal time for Deep Root Fertilization in orchards typically occurs during fall and early winter. This period aligns with the tree’s slowed growth, allowing a focus on root development. However, for supporting vegetative growth, it’s beneficial to consider an additional application in the spring.

An arborist proficient in Deep Root Fertilization can perform this process as long as the soil is neither frozen nor excessively dry or wet.

Fertilizers Utilized in Deep Root Fertilization

Selecting the appropriate fertilizer is crucial for ensuring your trees receive essential nutrients. Chemical and organic fertilizers, commonly recommended by experts, include Composted animal manure, Pelleted chicken manure, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

For sustained nutrient availability and reduced leaching risk, slow-release fertilizer granules prove to be optimal. These fertilizers gradually release nutrients over an extended period, nourishing the tree’s roots consistently.

Balanced fertilizers containing a mix of macro-nutrients like nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) provide comprehensive nourishment, promoting overall tree health.

Organic fertilizers derived from natural sources such as compost, animal manure, or plant-based materials enhance soil structure and release nutrients gradually, acting as soil amendments.

Micronutrient fertilizers, including copper (Cu), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), molybdenum (Mo), and manganese (Mn), deliver crucial trace elements in forms accessible to the tree’s roots, optimizing plant uptake.

Conducting soil testing is essential for determining the appropriate amounts and types of soil nutrients necessary for optimal plant growth.

Important Note

Exercise caution when using nitrogen-containing fertilizers in early autumn, as this may stimulate excessive vegetative growth, potentially increasing vulnerability to winter cold and hail.

Benefits of Deep Root Fertilization in Fruit Orchards

Deep Root Fertilization offers invaluable benefits, supplying essential nutrients to orchards and fostering healthier trees, resulting in an immediate nutritional boost. Additional advantages include:

  • Enhanced root growth, even during dormant periods
  • Improved nutrient absorption by providing essential nutrients directly to the tree’s roots
  • Regulation of soil water-holding capacity, reducing winter drought stress
  • Enhanced soil aeration and reduced soil complications
  • Promotion of healthy foliage, protecting fruits from sunburn and frost damage
  • Stimulation of blooms, canopy development, and overall plant vigor
  • Mitigation of plant nutrient deficiencies

Deep Root Fertilization Procedure

Here’s a step-by-step guide on conducting Deep Root Fertilization:

  1. Select the appropriate fertilizer containing a balanced mixture of essential nutrients and micronutrients.
  2. Determine the application rate based on the manufacturer’s instructions, considering plant size, age, and type.
  3. Prepare the injection equipment, utilizing specialized tools to inject fertilizers into the soil without harming the roots.
  4. Target the root zone beyond the drip line, where most active roots are situated.
  5. Dig holes in the last third of the tree’s shade, ensuring optimal water and nutrient absorption by the young and active roots.
  6. In high-density orchards, one hole between trees may suffice, while older trees may require multiple holes.
  7. In large-scale orchards, consider channeling along tree rows as an alternative to individual holes.
  8. Ensure holes are along irrigation paths or under drippers, with diameters ranging between 30 and 50 cm and depths correlating with the root distribution depth, typically 40 to 50 cm.
  9. Mix organic matter (manure or compost) with measured fertilizers, placing this mixture into the holes for soil penetration into the root zone.
  10. Refill holes with soil, gently pressing to remove air pockets.
  11. Water the area thoroughly to aid nutrient penetration and prevent root damage.

Perform Deep Root Feeding annually or biannually, tailoring applications to individual tree needs and soil conditions.

Deep Root Fertilization is a crucial technique for nurturing tree health in orchards. By directly supplying essential nutrients to the roots, this method fosters robust growth and resilience against environmental stress. Prioritizing timely applications and proper techniques ensures trees thrive, showcasing vibrant foliage and longevity. Committing to this practice underscores our dedication to preserving and nurturing our green spaces, fostering a healthier environment for generations to come.

Maryse Bou Zeid

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