Devising an effective fertilizer application program is a complex challenge to farmers in different parts of the world. It takes a lot of expertise and proper management to get on the right track, from conventional to organic farming. Organic fertilizers are required by all plants and are used extensively by farmers practicing floriculture and horticulture.
Nutrient Deficiencies in Fruit Trees
Nutrient deficiencies can greatly affect the performance and productivity of apple trees. When practicing organic farming, most of the fertilizers used are organic, although small amounts of chemical fertilizers are important. Apple trees require various micronutrients in high levels at different growth stages such as Calcium, Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorus, Sulfur, and Magnesium. Besides, they require small traces of micronutrients like Molybdenum, Iron, Cobalt, Silicon, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Sodium, Boron, and Chloride. Nitrogen is required in large amounts in the early stages and when the trees are growing vigorously. During the flowering and fruiting stage, NPK formulations with a high potassium percentage should be applied or sprayed.
Some indications of nutrient deficiencies in apple plants include:
- Slightly red leaves indicate lack of nitrogen
- Yellow and green patches on fruits is an indication of potassium deficiency
- Corky areas on apple fruits indicate boron deficiency
- Curling backward of leaves is an indication of phosphorus deficiency.
- Deformed fruits
- Cracking of fruits
- Peak blight of fruits indicates lack of calcium
Understand the crop needs and apply the right amount of fertilizers
The amount of fertilizers required by apple trees varies depending on the soil fertility, manure applied, and the growth stage. Several things can happen when incorrect amounts of fertilizers are applied.
- For instance, excessive application of fertilizers makes the plants concentrate on producing a lot of shoots and leaves instead of fruits.
- Failing to use fertilizers or applying extremely little fertilizers can lead to nutrient deficiencies, stunted growth, and poor health. Besides, the plants under-perform and their ability to fight pests and diseases reduces.
Know when to apply fertilizers
Fertilizers should be applied 3 times per year.
- The first application should be done before flowering
- The second application should be made after flowering
- The third application should be done a month later
However, in the early growth stages, and during vegetative growth, fertilizers can be applied at different times of the year depending on the nutrients required. Fertilizers should, however, be applied at controlled rates. Manure and other organic products should be applied regularly to keep the soil healthy and fertile.
Mulch the plants
Mulching, especially young plants, minimizes the growth of weeds, enhances the soil texture, increases the organic matter, minimizes water loss through evaporation, and increases soil micro-organisms. The need for nitrogen-based fertilizers reduces as soil health improves.
In commercial apple production, it’s important to get your soil tested by professionals to identify the nutrients that are present and absent. This can help farmers to devise effective fertilizer and manuring programs. To enjoy the profitability of apple farming, consult Oxfarm Ltd for professional soil analysis services.