With natural fertilizers we have two possible methods of application, foliar and soil. Apple trees and other perennial crops tend to respond very well to a foliar spray
. So, we tend to prefer a foliar feeding during key stages of development. We recommend foliar feeding for your apple trees at three key times during the season:
– Immediately after the leaves begin to open and before the bloom
– During post bloom right after the flowers appear
– Apply a foliar feeding of apple fertilizer at the beginning of fruit set
A Quick Note On Nitrogen
It’s a balancing act, finding the right mix of apple fertilizer to keep your nitrogen levels optimal. Too much nitrogen and your fruit quality might go down. Excess nitrogen can also reduce the shelf life of your product. Some orchards suffer from the exact opposite problem, too little nitrogen. Not having enough nitrogen available tends to cause chlorotic leaves before the bloom in early spring. Always remember that apples and other perennials store nitrogen in the root system over winter. As the plants mature they will require less nitrogen provided healthy soil conditions are present. If you maintain a healthy soil microbiome, your apples should accumulate nitrogen over time.
Apple Fertilizer Application Rates: Foliar
1 gallon liquid Natural Fertilizer
and 50 gallons of water (depending on tree density, spray equipment and canopy volume). Apply after the leaves open. Repeat after bloom if the trees require more nitrogen.
2 quarts Natural Kelp
and 50 gallons of water. Apply after fruit set. Repeat 3-4 weeks before final harvest.
Rates vary according to soil fertility and other inputs used. Lower dilution rates are more effective than higher dilution rates. Two or three applications may be more effective than one heavy application. If other constraints only allow one trip over the field, do not exceed a 3 percent dilution rate (3 gallons organic fertilizers to 97 gallons water). To reduce susceptibility to attack of insects and disease-causing organisms, apply a per-acre mixture of 1 quart Natural Kelp
and 50 gallons of water when signs of infestation become apparent.
Apple Fertilizer Application Rates: Soil
While we prefer foliar application, in difficult soil environments it might be beneficial to give your soil biology a boost with a soil application. Mix 3 gallons of Natural Fertilizer and 30 gallons of water. Apply in spring and fall if soil is hard and low in organic matter. If bitter pit is a problem, add 1 gallon of Natural Liquid Lime
to the spray tank to supply additional calcium. Applying a soil fertilizer in the fall will help the roots prepare for the next growing season.
So, now you have all the information you should need for application rates and timing. If you plan to setup a new orchard, you should probably be prepared to nurse your plants along for the first few years with foliar feedings while they establish an extensive root network.
Are Organics the Best Apple Fertilizers?
We surely think so! Organics can be both cost effective versus conventional fertilizer, and the right choice for the environment. Foliar feeding is especially beneficial to growers looking fertilize established plants without also feeding the weeds.
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