I’ve occasionally read that, but seen quite a few recs suggesting fertilizing new plantings.
The other peach growers around here also fertilize new plantings. Most of them use fertigation. I don’t have drip lines, so I just apply it by hand.
It is possible to burn roots of brand new trees. I’ll admit I’m always a little uneasy recommending fertilizing new trees because I don’t want someone doing so and burning their roots. That said, I’ve not burned any roots of new trees yet from adding straight N to newly planted trees.
We did once kill a few apple trees from too much fertilizer. Long story short, I told my son to put some fertilizer I had blended on some new apple trees placed in mounds. This was another instance the mounds were poor soil, from digging into clay. I told him to put about three good handfuls on the mounds (the mounds were built with a skid steer and were large). My son very carefully put three handfuls right up against the trunks of the newly planted trees, instead of scattering the fertilizer all over the mounds like I thought he understood. I didn’t know he’d piled it around the trunks until the rains came and washed most of the fertilizer right down through the loose soil to the newly planted roots. The foliage of the trees quickly turned yellow. Most pulled out of it, but a few didn’t. My guess is that the salts of the fertilizer are what damaged the trees, not the N, because the blend was a fairly low N blend.
That said, I would recommend anyone adding urea to new trees to wait till the rain settles the dirt before the area is top dressed with it. That’s what we generally do.
Re: Organic amendments. I like those as well. In my view, each load of wood chips is like a free load of fertilizer.
I consider a fully mature tree as one with about a 20’ spread, or a 10’ radius. It generally takes my trees about 6 years to get to that.
That’s not a bad amount of fertilizer, probably close to the same amount of N as I mentioned. I probably put a little more N down because I too will come back and throw a few more handfuls of N down the first year, maybe two or three times throughout the season for non-bearing trees.
A lot of recs are for the 10-10-10, especially as a replenishment for bearing trees. However, highly mineralized clay soil can be lacking in N, especially if they are low in organic matter, even if it contains lots of other minerals and nutrients. N is generally the most essential nutrient regulating growth. That is, show the quickest growth response.
I’m a little worried your heavy soil with the rainfall you get in VA. Clay water logs so easily. It sounds like you have some trees up out of the ground, but for the others, they can easily get too much water. But, even if your soil does water log. If it’s not wet enough to kill the trees, N applications will generally aid in growth, although the benefit will be somewhat muted.
However, it’s best if the trees are raised up out of the grade level. It just a lesson I’ve learned so hard for myself, I hate for others to have to learn it the hard way. I still see it in others plantings.
There is a house I drive by everyday I go to the farm, which is a mile from my orchard. The owner has three peach trees planted in the ground with no raised planting and sod growing next to the trees. I can see them as I drive by. They have been in the ground at least 4 years (maybe 5). They’ve hardly grown at all. The owner has never pruned them, and they have maybe grown 3’ in all those years. This is on ground which is very similar to mine. The only consistent difference is that I have raised plantings, and weed free zones.
This year I have experimented with planting peach trees on flat ground here at the house (not digging a hole at all) then building a mound around them. I just set the trees on the grass and started putting buckets of dirt on the roots, till I got a mound of sorts. It takes quite a few buckets (probably about 20 or more buckets per tree). First time I’ve tried that, but I know how wet our soil can get, so I didn’t want to dig down without a mound. I’ll probably add more buckets as the trees grow.