Melt water around fruit trees

The snow has pretty much melted around here (Southern Ontario) but the ground is still frozen and I notice puddles of water around the base of some of the fruit trees. They are small puddles about a foot across but my trees are only 2 years old. Will this hurt them, it doesn’t appear to be saturating the actual soil below because its frozen soil.

Did you amend the soil at planting? If so this is why you do not, well one of many reasons. Did it sink down some? My snow melted and I didn’t observe any pooling. I’m near you, I’m about 16 miles from Ontario. Mine are mostly 3rd leaf.

I didn’t amend the soil, I just removed the sod and dug a 3 ft wide hole and about 1 ft or so down. I guess since it settled and the sod was removed its just a bit lower than the surround soil to cause some puddling. I tried to drain the water a little by digging a little trench (im on a bit of slope) but the soil is pretty frozen solid so it only worked somewhat.

You can’t drown a tree in frozen soil. When it’s that cold the tree could stand in water weeks and not hurt anything. But the soil would thaw before then and allow the water to drain away. Standing water is an issue when the roots are actively growing and metabolizing at a high rate. When fully dormant and frozen the need for oxygen is nearly zero.

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Oh that’s good. My soil is a silty sandy loam so as soon as it thaws it will drain freely as I never have standing water even after 2 inches of rain.

I have had trees waterlogged half the spring. They seem to expect that as its a common spring weather pattern. Only if it lasts into summer do you have a big problem.


Well if you have sandy soil you should be fine. I have clay, and if I saw that I would be worried. Not that it going to cause an immediate problem, it just shows it’s low! That lowness most definitely will cause a problem down the road here.

If it’s just during snowmelt, no problem. Here in Alberta I get snowmelt ponding around all kind of trees and low areas while the underlying ground is still frozen. Once the ground thaws, the melt water disappears. Sometimes I wish I had it back during summer when things get dry…

The real problem is never soggy soil it’s the type of tree that concerns me once the ground thaws out. We like to use mm111 rootstocks here because they can handle soggy soil and clay soil better than other apple rootstock. For cherries I plant them on a terrace because they will die if planted like we do the peaches, apples and pears. Grapes don’t like standing water either so a hill is the place for them.

What about when the melt water freezes over night, does it girdle the tree?

Yes, I agree, and I have learned to hill everything now. So to me a huge warning went off when this was mentioned. I’m glad other people don’t have problems, but this could be a major problem for some.
Hard to fix too, because you do not want to bury your tree by adding dirt. Most plant way too low as is. Roots suffer, they need oxygen too. I would rather have the pooled water than deeply buried roots.

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