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Planting Fruit Trees in the Fall

You have probably heard that you can plant your fruit trees in the spring. Well, that is correct. You surely can. However that really does not give your fruit tree a lot of time for the roots to get established before the heat gets turned up on them. You really don’t want to plant them after the summer heat gets cranked up. So, all of that being said, planting fruit trees in the fall is the best. This will give your tree enough time to establish roots and be more prepared when spring comes. 

Why fall is better

The fall weather provides a balance of warm and cool temperatures. This provides ideal circumstances for your fruit tree to get the roots established before your tree goes dormant for the winter. Having the roots established will give your new tree a head start when spring arrives.

Where to plant your fruit trees

Fruit trees need full sun. This will ensure the best quality, quantity, size, and color. Be sure that your trees are well spaced so that they are not casting shade on each other. Plus, you don’t want to place them in the shadows of other trees. You will need good soil drainage where you plan to plant your fruit tree. A simple way to test the drainage of your soil is to dig a hole about 2 ft. deep. Then fill the hole with water. If there is still standing water in the hole after waiting 24 hours, you have a drainage problem. Poorly drained soil may result in the death of your tree or it may be stunted.

The ideal site will be a downhill slope. This allows for drainage and keeps cold air from pooling up around your trees. Airflow is important to a fruit tree because they are so susceptible to freezing. You want to avoid bottom land or valleys as cold air will settle in these areas and your fruit tree has a greater chance of freezing. Also, you don’t want to plant to close to structures such as buildings or fences that may obstruct the flow of air. 

When will you harvest fruit

It usually takes 3 full growing seasons to produce a good quality crop. The NC State Cooperative Extension recommends pulling off blooms and small fruitlets in the first 2 years. This allows your tree to use all of its energy and nutrients to grow to be a stronger plant so that it may support a good harvest. Also, if you don’t do this and allow your fruit tree to produce early, it may affect your trees growth and make it hard to produce quality and quantity in the future.

Temperature requirements differ from one variety of fruit to the next, so don’t assume that  you can plant all of your fruit trees together. For example, peaches are especially susceptible to freezing in the early spring frost as their fruit sets on early. Apples require a period of cold before harvest but mature fruit may fall victim to an early fall frost. Do your research, check out the the temperature requirements and timelines for each fruit you choose to grow. Then, plant accordingly.

It sounds more complicated than it is. But if you follow the guidelines you should have no trouble with fruit production. 


D. Ellen Kincer