The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles™
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Planting Fruit and Nut Trees
I know it's only Christmas, but it's a good time to plan your spring planting for fruit bearing trees. We all know that deer love the carbohydrates from ripening fruit, and a good stand will draw them from miles away. A well planted and designed orchard will not only provide an irresistable food source for deer, (And other game too!) but will definitly increase the value of your property! While it does take longer to get an orchard established, the long term cost is much reduced compared to other food plots. Maintainance is less, and the production can be quite long depending on the species of tree planted.
It is important to realize that planting fruit trees from bare root stock can take many years to produce. If you have the time and inclination to wait, then you can purchase many at a good price. The other option is to buy potted trees that may be ready to produce within a couple of years, maybe that same fall! All you need is a shovel to dig the hole it will be in, a bucket for water, and a handful of fertilizer to get it started.
Actually, it is a little more involved than that! But not by much. Realize that bareroot stock, even though it is dormant, is still very delicate. The most important thing to remember is to protect the roots from any moisture loss! Even when transporting them to their new site, keep the roots covered, protected and moist.
If you need to keep the bareroot trees more than a couple of days before you can plant them, bury them in a moist medium like peatmoss and sand, or potting mix. This will keep them safe until you can plant them. Make sure it's in a shady spot, and water them well. Of course protect them from any possiblity of freezing. You can actually keep them like this for a few weeks, but you must plant them before they show any signs of growth! Before you plant them, soak the roots in water overnight.
If you have the opportunity, pre dig the holes where you want to plant your orchard. This will minimize any possibility that your trees' roots may dry out.
Two stakes to either side are better...
It would not be a bad idea to bring a couple of stakes, and some raffia or manila twine to stabilize the newly planted tree. You will also need something to protect the trunk from rodents. Some inexpensive hardware cloth wrapped around the trunk is an easy to use barrier against the gnawing teeth of rodents.
The next question you must ask yourself is where in particular are you going to plant your orchard.
You want to make sure you plant the trees in a well drained area. I had to create mounds about 18 inches high to get my orange trees high enough above the water table here in Florida. The persimmons I planted are on a slight rise, but I mounded them also. You may or may not need to do the same, but it is important that drainage is adequate. Fruit and nut trees need sunshine in order to give you maximum production. So you may need to do some clearing in order to maximize the potential of your orchard. Without adequate sunlight, you cannot eapect your trees to reach their best production rates.
You know, before you dig that first hole, you really should plan for your stand placement. Don't plant a beautiful, productive orchard, and then realize you have no place for a stand or hide! You should be aware of the other assets in your area, beds, runs, rub lines, fences, and plan accordingly.
Remember to study the types of trees you will be planting, taking into consideration size at maturity, when they ripen, the number needed for adequate pollination, etc. For those of you in the North, apples in particular are known to have early, mid, and late season varieties which will drop fruit over several months, giving you an incredible season of opportuity!
(I'm a big fan of the American Persimmon; Native Americans loved them, and they are a popular food for wild turkey, mockingbirds, deer, squirrels, and all sorts of other wildlife! They are a largeish tree, growing to sixty feet, and they definitly need to be planted with others as they are either male or female.)
I would suggest that fruit and trees are one of the best improvements and investments you can make to your property. Over the long term, they are a low maintenance crop that deer will concentrate on. Not only that, but an established orchard carefully situated, and producing deer consistently will add immeasurably to your enjoment, and to your property's value!
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...
Though he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.