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Garden Tips Newsletter

Fertilizing Fruit Trees
Garden Tips Newsletter - February 11, 2002

February is the time to fertilize your fruit trees. There are different rates depending on the age and type of the fruit tree.

For apple and pear trees:

1st year
1 pound complete fertilizer + 1/4 pound of ammonium nitrate

2nd year
2 pounds complete fertilizer + 1/2 pound of ammonium nitrate

3rd year
3 pounds complete fertilizer + 3/4 pound of ammonium nitrate

4th year
4 pounds complete fertilizer + 1 pound of ammonium nitrate

5th year
5 pounds complete fertilizer + 1 1/2 pounds of ammonium nitrate

After apple and pear trees reach bearing age (over 4 to 5 years of age), apply only a complete fertilizer (such as 13-13-13). Usually 2 to 3 pounds of fertilizer -- per inch of diameter of the tree measured just above the soil line -- are adequate.

For peaches, nectarines and plums:

First year
Apply one pound of a complete fertilizer (e.g. 13-13-13) 6 to 8 inches from the base of the tree.

Second year
Apply 2 pounds of a complete fertilizer (13-13-13) 12 to 15 inches from the base.

Third year
Apply 4 pounds of a complete fertilizer (13-13-13) 2 to 4 feet from the base of the tree. Apply half of the fertilizer in late February and the remaining half in late April.

For mature or bearing trees, fertilize at the rate of 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of a complete fertilizer per year of age until trees are 8 to 10 years old. Then apply 8 to 10 pounds per tree annually.

For more information see the Fruit and Nut Reviews: Extension publications IS 1433 and IS 1434.

Lelia Scott Kelly, Ph.D., writes Garden Tips weekly and is a Horticulture Specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Her office is in the North Mississippi Research & Extension Center, Verona.