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Winterizing Fruit Trees: Top 5 Tips for Winter Care

Winterizing Fruit Trees: Top 5 Tips for Winter Care

Nov 29th 2023

If you've got any fruit trees in your garden, heads up! Summer's out, and winter's rolling in to endanger unprotected plants in your garden. So, let's play it safe and prepare for the chilly, cold weather to shield your fruity pals and keep them cozy and thriving during the winter chill.

In the first place, it's good to know what problems are likely to show up on your tree's winter radar:

Frost Damage

Frost is not a friend of fruit trees. When trees are dormant in the late spring and early winter, it can easily harm them. Early spring frosts are rare, while late spring frosts are particularly risky, as trees may start budding before the last frost of the growing season has passed.

Winter Sunscald

Surprisingly, the winter sun can also cause trouble for your planted fruit trees. On cold days, the sun can warm the bark, leading to sunscald when temperatures drop again. It can result in cracked and damaged bark. So, it’s likely that some pests will have no trouble getting into the trees.

Desiccation (Drying Out)

Winter winds, especially in combination with low temperatures, can lead to desiccation. It occurs when the tree loses moisture more rapidly than it can absorb from the frozen ground, causing damage to leaves and branches.

Rodent Damage

Hungry rodents seeking shelter and food during the winter months might nibble on the bark of fruit trees. If this happens all winter, it will most likely create wounds, weakening and damaging the tree and also making it easily accessible to insect pests.

Snow and Ice Accumulation:

If you’re waiting for heavy snow or ice to accumulate on branches for the winter, keep in mind, that adding weight on trees can potentially lead to breakage. This issue is dangerous for older trees that might have weaker branches. However, you can avoid the potential threats if you jump in at the right time. Getting your trees stronger before the winter can help them fight the power of heavy snow.

Here are some tips to protect your fruit trees from cold weather, especially during the winter months.

Mulch Magic: Thermal Blanket for Fruit Trees

This is your weapon against most winter threats! A layer of mulch around the base of the fruit tree acts as a thermal blanket, cradling the roots in warmth and shielding them from the impending cold weather.

When applying mulch, go big by generously layering 5cm of your preferred mulch around the base or encircling essential plants. Just be cautious not to smother or harm the lower stems of your plants. Whether you go hands-on or use a spade depends on the mulch material.

Timing is everything, spring and autumn are the prime seasons for applying this essential layer. April takes the cake as the sweet spot. The soil is moist and easily accessible, and plants are gearing up for growth, making it the perfect time to let this layer of organic compost do its thing.

Wrapping Trees: Protection and Aesthetics

It's time for proper winter care for fruit trees! Burlap or tree wrap is more than just for the looks! It's a shield against the relentless winds and potential sunscald drama in winter months. It is a winter coat for your trees, offering a protective shield against the cold weather.

As a benefit, Latex paint emerges as a cost-effective and less labor-intensive choice in nurseries and orchards, especially when compared to individually wrapping trees. However, while it may not boast aesthetic charm and takes time to fade, opting for water-based latex paint is crucial. Avoid the oil-based variety, as it can inflict harm on trees.

This white layer is like a superhero shield against winter sun trouble. Shield the tree's sensitive feeder roots, commonly known as root hairs, from the harsh grip of freezing temperatures. These delicate roots play a crucial role in soaking up water and vital nutrients from the soil.

Pruning: Rejuvenating Experience for Fruit Trees

Before winter takes center stage, treat your trees to a spa day. Pruning isn't just about aesthetics; it's a rejuvenating experience for them. Snip away the dead branches, fostering healthy growth and ensuring they enter the winter stage with grace and vitality. Grab that rake and clear out all fallen leaves and fruit bits under the tree's canopy. Don't leave any leftovers on the site.

Now, resist the urge to toss this debris into your compost bin, where those pests and pathogens can throw a party. Nipping this in the bud disrupts the cozy winter homes of insect pests and disease spores. It's like hitting pause on their plans so they won't be causing trouble when the growing season rolls around again.

Frost Cloth: Cozy Blanket for Your Trees

Imagine your trees wrapped in a cozy blanket on a chilly night. Frost cloth is a simple and effective way to protect your plants! It is a breathable cover that keeps the chill out while letting in the good stuff, like air, light, and just the right amount of moisture.

When temperatures plummet, these wraps provide an extra layer of warmth, shielding your trees from frosty bites and ensuring they wake up refreshed in the morning.

Whether you're a gardening guru or just starting, this frost protection fabric is your go-to during those tricky frosts from early spring to late winter.

Hydration Station: Winter Survival Strategy

Winter hydration is more than just a routine; it's a survival strategy. Ensure your trees are well-hydrated before the cold settles in. This process guarantees they emerge from winter looking vibrant and ready for spring's curtain call.

Since fruit trees can only slurp nutrients in liquid form, keeping them hydrated is essential to storing them in their roots. When their cells are packed with water, it acts as a natural shield, stopping those cell walls from going haywire in freezing temps and causing damage.

Another concern comes up in areas where de-icing salts are used: planted fruit trees near roadways may suffer from salt damage. Salt can leach into the soil, affecting the tree's roots and overall health.

Keep the trees hydrated until a few weeks before the ground gets icy for top-notch protection. This helps the trees stock up on nutrients for their winter stash in the roots. Watch that soil moisture level, adjusting your watering as needed.

And, of course, hit pause on the watering routine before the freeze kicks in to dodge any unwanted ice formations around the roots.

As you embark on these winter care rituals, remember that each act of protection is an investment in your fruit trees' future productivity.

Final Words

The challenges are diverse, from frost damage to sunscald, desiccation, rodent mischief, and the weight of snow and ice. However, your fruit trees can survive and thrive during the colder months with a proactive approach and winter care.

To read more on Winterizing and Gardening, visit us at dripworks.com. We are available by phone or email if you have questions or need assistance with your landscape irrigation