Hard soil what can I do with it? Planting Pears

When it comes to the soil we have here it is a hard clay loam. We can spend a day digging a hole for a large tree. The ground is very hard clay and small rock between 1-3’ down and loam on the top portion when there is a top portion. Much of the time it’s just clay with no loam on top. The field I’m working now is no exception I planted the wet good loam soil to aronia and so all I have left is the hard clay. It won’t grow just anything and it’s very difficult to work. It’s alkaline at 7.5 + ph. We get droughts in the summer and to much rain at other times. We have strong wind a good portion of the time. With all that said this is the time of year when we can plant 600 trees with no problem so how do I do it? During the spring rains the ground softens for a short period of time and I can easily take a sharp shooter shovel and make my holes in the ground. Just stand on the shovel rock it back and forth and plant the pear in the hole. Once the tree is in I stomp the hole shut. It easily closes because the ground is very wet. In order for that plan to work you must have wet ground, you must have rootstock no bigger than 1/4" or so , You must be using something that will survive those conditions like a pear. This trick will save you a lot and I sure hope it helps someone. Keep in mind if you want fast fruit then switch gears from pears and plant peaches as they bear in 3 years. Big trees are not an advantage to me and they might not be to you when you think about it. If I missed that window to plant the trick does not work so I order the rootstocks far in advance and typically still have problems getting them.


When I first started out 5 years ago I planted big trees and dug huge holes (With a breaker bar I might add). Now small trees…bareroot…break a little dirt …implant tree…smush down. Easy peazy!


Clark, I have similar conditions, except not quite as harsh or windy.

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I had ice in my water bucket today I use to keep my rootstock moist while I plant them. Planting rootstock is hot work so I welcome the cold. Another thing nice about cold weather is the lack of fireblight. Harsh conditions I guess just come a long with living in the Midwest.


When I first started out and drove by a commercial orchard I would think about the labor and machinery they must have used lol. Then some Nursery sent me under sized trees once and I asked for them ever since.