Growing fruit trees has countless benefits, such as providing tasty fruits, offering shade during hot weather, and adding attractive greenery around your home. Soil properties play an important role in the performance and productivity of your fruit trees. You need the right soil to ensure healthier growth and optimum production, apart from ideal climates. To understand the soil conditions, you need to test your soil, whether you are a new grower or running an established orchard. This will help you understand the soil properties such as soil drainage, fertility, texture, water-holding capacity, and health.
What are the idea soil conditions for fruit farming?
Generally, fruit trees such as macadamia, avocado, apples, mangoes, and tree tomato flourish in deep, fertile, and well-drained soils with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.0 and sandy or loamy texture. Deep soils support the trees’ deep root systems and provide sufficient room for the roots to spread. Good drainage enhances the soil’s water retention while holding the optimum water content required by the plants for a particular period. In pure sandy soils, the water-holding capacity is relatively low, which can be problematic for fruit trees. Wet or heavy clay soils, on the other hand, do not promote optimum root development, are poorly drained, and are susceptible to water-logging.
How does the soil affect fruit production?
The soil properties play a crucial role in determining how your fruits will perform. Some of the soil properties that affect the production include:
- Drainage, depth, and fertility
- pH levels
Drainage, depth and Fertility
The soil drainage varies in different types of soils. Fruits thrive in well-drained soils, especially loamy, sandy-loamy, or clay-loamy soils. Pure clay soils are susceptible to waterlogging. Excess water chokes the plant and prevents it from receiving enough oxygen. This leads to root rot, fungi development, stunted growth, and long-term tree stress. If this happens for extended periods, the tree dies. Sandy soils have a low water retention capacity and require more irrigation to keep the soil moist. When the tree’s water requirements are not fully met, drought stress occurs. The tree starts wilting, the leaves turn yellow and fall, flowers and fruits drop, and premature fruits ripen. Soil depth affects the growth of the roots and determines how the roots spread. Plants flourish infertile soils. Fruit trees need essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, magnesium, and calcium. Besides, they need micronutrients like copper, nickel, chlorine, molybdenum, boron, manganese, and iron.
How can you enhance soil drainage and fertility?
To enhance the fertility and drainage of your soil, you should add manure and compost. This can help increase the water and nutrient capacity, provide beneficial microorganisms, and enhance aeration in the soil. To add specific nutrients to the soil, you can use fertilizers sparingly. Conduct a soil test first to find out the nutrients lacking in your soil.
Effects of soil pH on plant growth?
Fruit trees flourish in a pH range of 5.5 to 7.0 and vary depending on the tree. If the soils are too acidic or alkaline, trace elements and key minerals. For instance, at low pH (highly acidic soils below 5.5), minerals such as iron, manganese, and aluminum become toxic to the plants while others become less available. Phosphorus, iron, and aluminum combine and form insoluble compounds. At high pH (high alkalinity above 7.5), molybdenum and boron become toxic, while calcium ties up phosphorus, making it unavailable to the fruit trees.
At a pH range of 5.5 to 7.0, nutrients such as phosphorus, sulfur, and nitrogen are available in the soil.
So, how do you regulate the soil pH?
To best determine how you should adjust your soil, you should seek help from professionals and agronomists who will first test your soil health and pH. Next, there are various soil-improvement techniques that you can use, which include:
- Increasing the organic matter by adding manure, compost manure, crop rotation, and planting cover crops.
- Applying fertilizers with the required nutrients to the soil.
- Adding lime to raise and neutralize the soil pH.
- Adding sulfur to lower and neutralize the soil pH.
Always get your soil tested by professionals
It’s not always possible to fully understand your soil conditions without a proper test. If you are a commercial fruit farmer, you know the value of investing in regular soil testing. Consult OxfarmAg for your soil testing services and keep your soil in the right conditions.