What to do before putting fruit trees fertilizers in Québec?

Hi all:

I was wondering if a soil analysis test is always the first step to take before any amendments are added to the soil? I have no idea how reliable those tests truly are… because I’m thinking about putting some fertilizers into my orchard’s soil.

Another question of mine: I have now about 80 fruit trees on an almost two acres plot. How many samples do I need to take in order to have a rather exact state of the entire plot? In other words: a sample taken from the soil is valid for what area? : 10 X 10?, 20 X 20? A smaller area, a much bigger one? I strongly believe the soil is somehow depleted…but have no proof.

My orchard is on a mountainside of 300m altitude, When I plant a new tree the quantity of small.medium and huge rocks is insane:

I use Michael Phillips’s spray recipe but I think I have reach the limits of it. The leaves are all quite good looking during summer but the autumn’s fruits not so much. Their taste is ordinary.

At least 2 apple trees have short and relatively few leaves and got almost no flowers lately. Same situation for 2 plum trees.

I need some basic advice Iguess…



do you have rocky clay like i do? or is it more sandy loam? with my soil i put a ring of chic manure every spring for the 1st 4 years then stopped and just used woodchip mulch and so far they have been fine with no further fertilizing. if you’re on sandy soil you would probably need to fertilize more as the nutrients get washed away quicker.

I don’t think you need a soil test before adding nitrogen. The length of yearly growth can give you a good idea if your trees are getting enough nitrogen. When you’re establishing new trees it is a good idea to add nitrogen either conventional fertilizer or composted manure. I think you want to do this for a minimum of three years. Also you need to keep grass at least a foot or two from the trunk of the tree while the tree is young. The grass and weeds will compete with the tree for nutrients. A circle of mulch will help a lot with this.

But in any case it’s a good idea to get the soil tested. Usually the lab or extension office that tests the samples will provide you with guidance on how to collect the soil for testing. Usually you collect a number of samples over a given area and mix them. The given area size varies but usually one mixed sample is for an area that the soil and the usage of the land is uniform. If part of the area is sandy and part of the area is clay you need at a minimum two mixed samples. If one part of the area is orchard and another is a vegetable garden you again need two mixed samples.

What kind of soil do you have sandy, loam or clay? What cultivars of trees and what rootstocks do you have on them?

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Thanks Steve and mroot. My answer:

It’s mainly clay 60/70 % and the rest is loam. 0% sand. Huge pieces of rocks and slate too. There is a rising demand for manure in my region because a lot of people are making gardens and more and more are growing fruit trees. Was unable to get some last year but I did put some 3 years in a row. Marc

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try using alfalfa pellets from a feed/ ag. store and top dress every spring. they are cheap and have a NPK of 2.5-2.5-2.5. before i had enough manure that’s what i did. fluff them up occasionally or put a little mulch over them as they can become hydrophobic if left to compact. good luck!

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