Published on 02/28/13

Fruit-bearing plants and trees should wait a year to provide fruit

By Frank M. Watson

The temptation is great to let newly set fruit plants bear fruit the first year, but don’t be give in. Whether they are fruit trees or tiny plants like strawberries, these plants need that first year to become established.

If you gather your berries or fruits this year, you could deal with less healthy, less productive plants for years to come.

Remove first blooms

Gardeners should remove all of a fruit plants blooms the first year after planting to prevent them from bearing fruit. For strawberries, allowing the newly set plants to produce fruit the first year can reduce the amount of fruit the plant produces the following year and delay the formation of daughter plants.

Just a single fruit can sap the limited resources of a young fruit tree and delay its development. Even if new shoots do develop, they can be stunted and produce a mis-shapened tree.

Fertilization is an important practice in growing all fruit crops. When properly used, fertilizers help achieve better plant growth and increased yields. Improperly used, fertilizer can be wasted or even damage fruit plants. Fertilizer cannot compensate for poor plants or cultural practices.

Follow soil test results

Take a soil sample to your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office to determine fertilizer needs. Soil samples can be taken at any time but late winter is probably the best time.

A soil test will provide a lot of information about your soil, but one of the most important things to know for fruit trees is whether you need to adjust the soil pH by applying lime. Lime applications made during the next several weeks will have ample time to react before the spring growing season begins. Generally it takes about three months for lime to react in the soil.

Frank Watson is the University of Georgia Extension agent in Wilkes County, Ga.

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