How can you best care for your orchard during the summertime? From pruning to watering to fruit thinning, this guide will help you keep your orchard healthy in the heat so you can enjoy a bountiful harvest this autumn.
Water, water and water some more – it’s very important! Growing trees require lots of the stuff, and keeping them well-watered will also help to prevent pest and disease issues. Ideally, each tree should get a single, heavy watering of 15-20 litres once a week, with the whole mulched area being soaked to encourage outward root growth. Learn more about watering young trees here.
Blossoms will now be swelling fruits. After the ‘June-drop’ (the tree’s natural shedding of fruit), thin the fruit further so that bunches show no more than a couple of apples or pears and inspect the leaves and fruit frequently for signs of disease and pest damage.
Once the pips turn brown it’s a good indication that the sugars in the fruit are making it tasty. Plums and cherries will be ready to harvest in July, and some early apples like Discovery and Grenadier in August – just in time to mix in with blackberries for a delicious pie or fruit drink.
Pruning stone fruit like cherries, plums and damsons should take place now to avoid the disease silverleaf. Stone fruit requires less pruning than apples and pears, so just remove crossing branches, dead and diseased material and any root ‘suckers’.
Summer Pruning of apples and pears as ‘trained’ forms (espaliers, cordons, fans) also takes place in July or August once summer growth has slowed. General pruning of apples and pears takes place later in the year though.
Cider from last season’s crop should be ready around now so expect cider festivals around the UK.