County Agent Soil Analysis

Almost 5 acre fenced orchard. 57 fruit trees, including several varieties of apple, plum, peach, nectarine, & apricot. Tips on what, how, & how much to apply would be appreciated.

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The bottom line, code 501, gives recommended application rates. I’d go with that. Since the recommended application rates for N, P, and K are the same, you could apply 10-10-10 at 20 lbs per 1,000 sq ft. Each 10 x 100 ft area would receive 20 lbs 10-10-10 and 30 lbs of limestone.

To treat the whole 5 acres, 435000 sq ft, would require 435x20 = 8700 lbs of 10-10-10 and 13500 lbs of limestone. A farmer would get an applicator in to apply the limestone with a big truck. And the 10-10-10 could probably be applied the same way. If a big truck can drive down the rows there’s someone who could do it.

That’s a lot to do by hand.

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Keep life easy; on 5a., with that test I’d order 1 ton of 0-0-60 delivered from your local fertilizer dealer in their own pony spreader and just turn some laps. You won’t hurt the soil or the trees as long as you spread it between full bloom and early autumn, and you should be covered for at least another five years. Test again at that time to get things more finely tuned.
As far as lime goes. 5.8 ph is fine for apples at the stage you’re at; calcium’s a bit low, but again, you can fine tune it down the road a bit. Definitely do the K though.

Any decent sized dealer will have someone on staff to go over this with you and make their own recommendations. Extension can be fussy about these things, and there’s a difference between getting stuff done and doing it their way. If you don’t have a dealer near enough to borrow their spreader, you can buy totes of up to a ton that you can then shovel into 3pt. hitch style spreaders.

By way of reference, I was engaged in production ag (dairy/crops) for 25+ years, after a childhood on the farm and am now semi-retired.

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I did the math & think if I buy urea, & high phosphorus and potassium fertilizers in higher concentrations in 40 lb sacks, I can meet requirements with 2 sacks each. One 5 lb sack of zinc additive should do it, and 11 50 lb sacks of lime should get me there. That will let me use my ATV and a pull behind 100 lb spreader in the tight confines of the 60’ x 100’ (.41 acres) fenced in orchard that already has 57 trees planted. I’m gonna hold off on the rest until I talk to the agent again. This won’t be cheap but I can’t get a bulk spreader in there.

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If you’re going to try it that way, you need to calibrate your spreader very well. It’ll take about 200 lbs. of something with similar granulation- and the likelihood of all of your items having similar granulation is not good- spread over a site where you can see both the spread and the rate, at different speeds. Honestly, if you’re going to do it that way, it’ll be easier to handle each tree individually (like a cookbook). If you use the ‘center-dripline’ method, you’re less likely to have any oversupply issues, which is the risk if you use an uncalibrated lawn spreader and hi-test fertilizers.
Also, it can be difficult to find them in 50’s, since most dealers don’t like them in ‘civilian’ hands- there’s too much margin for damaging error.
Good luck.

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Just remember, it takes a long time for some nutrients to make their way through the soil. Do it right before a rain.
Take a leaf analysis during the summer to see what nutrients made it into the tree. I broadcast nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium every year over our orchard. You want to build up your soil so that every time you mow, you’re adding back. It may take 3-5 years to see the results.

ETA: I do spring and fall. Right before Budbreak when the roots are searching and in the fall for a last boost.

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