LSU AgCenter horticulturist teaches growers how to be fruitful

Charles Graham, Van Osdell, Mary Ann  |  3/24/2008 11:33:46 PM

News You Can Use Distributed 03/25/08

BOSSIER CITY – A soil analysis is the first thing to consider when planting fruit trees, said Dr. Charles Graham, research horticulturist, at the monthly Lunch and Ag Discovery talk at the LSU AgCenter’s Red River Research Station March 18.

Graham began his talk, “Fruit Cocktail from the Home Garden,” emphasizing a soil analysis to indicate whether lime is needed. “Lime before you put the tree in the ground,” Graham said.

Texture is also important because peach trees like sandy soil, for instance, but they don’t like silt or clay.

Drainage is another factor. How quickly will water move through that soil?

Graham suggested digging an 8-inch hole 32 inches deep, filling it with 5 gallons of water and checking the drainage 24 and 48 hours later. “Adequate drainage for a fruit tree is for it to empty in 48 hours,” he said. “If water remains, use raised beds.”

Evaluate the site for surface characteristics. Ask where the water will go when it rains. He said any elevation is better than none.

Graham said surface water is generally better for irrigation than well water. Most fruit trees are sensitive to salts, he said.

“You might have to stake some trees or you may have to cage them,” added Graham. “Deer love young apple trees.”

Another consideration is pollination requirements. Apples, blueberries, Japanese plums, black walnuts, muscadines, pears and pecans need pollinators. Apricots, blackberries and figs do not.

“Lay a plot out,” Graham advised. “You’re not going to remodel your kitchen without plans drawn out. This is a long-term investment. Put some thought into it. It will save you many headaches in the future.”

Don’t plant pecan trees on the lot where they are shading other crops, he said.

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Contact: Dr. Charles Graham at (318) 797-8034, or cjgraham@agcenter.lsu.edu

Writer: Mary Ann Van Osdell at (318) 741-7430, ext. 1104, or mvanosdell@agcenter.lsu.edu

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