Adams County Nursery Fruit Trees
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Adams County Nursery Growing With You
26 Nursery Road
P.O. Box 108
Aspers, PA 17304

(717) 677-8105

(717) 677-4124

Office Hours:
(year round)
Mon - Fri : 7:00 to 5:00

(November, March & April)
Sat : 7:00 - 12:00

PSU Fruit Production Guide
Great Resource for the Home Gardner!
Nourse Farms
Hollabaugh Fruit Farm

Adams County Nursery - Fruit Tree Planting Guide

After Receiving Your Fruit Trees:

Check your trees to insure they are in good condition and notify ACN of any problems. If planting cannot be done immediately, fruit trees can be stored in their shipping container in a cool area for two weeks. Do not store trees in a closed area with fruit because Ethylene gas emitted by fruit will kill trees. Keep roots moist and add water as needed. If planting will be delayed further, trees should be 'heeled in' by planting temporarily in loose soil as soon as possible.

Fruit Tree Placement:

Fruit trees perform best in full sunlight. Specific fruit types that require cross-pollination should be planted within 50 feet of one another.


Dig holes approximately 18 inches deep and 18 inches wide. Amend soil with lime and organic matter as needed. Break up hardpan layer if present, and break up 'glazing' in clay soils. Do not add raw fertilizers or manure to soil mixture.


Place tree in planting hole so that roots lay naturally, with the bud union 2 inches above soil level after planting (just above ground level for peach). Fill in soil in layers and tamp around the roots to insure good soil contact and remove air pockets. Immediately water trees to saturate the soil. After settling, insure that the bud union is still 2 inches above soil level and adjust as necessary. See pruning guide below.*


When rainfall is not adequate, add water to newly transplanted trees at least once each week during the first growing season with 3-4 gallons of water per tree.


Fertilizers containing nitrogen should be applied to newly transplanted fruit trees beginning 3-4 weeks after planting. If granular fertilizers are applied, use care to avoid contact with the tree trunk. A general recommendation is to use 4 oz. of 10-10-10 per tree in a circumference 2-3 feet from the base of the tree, allowing fertilizer to go down to the root tips.

Weed Control:

Good weed control is very important in the immediate vicinity of transplanted trees to reduce competition. Do not cultivate the soil surface within the area of the planting hole. Composted mulches are useful for weed control and retaining soil moisture however soft mulch materials can harbor mice and voles. Large hardwood chips are less likely to harbor damaging rodents. Crushed limestone or pea-sized gravel is the preferred material. A bushel of stone per tree, 2-3 inches in depth extending 3-4 feet around the base of the tree is adequate.

Protecting Your Fruit Trees:

ACN tree guards are useful to prevent damage from mice, rabbits, and other wildlife. ACN Deer Bags can help deter damage from deer browsing. In areas of heavy deer pressure, your best option is fencing.

Follow Up Fruit Tree Care:

Further limb selection and pruning is necessary for proper tree structure in the years following planting. For detailed information on spraying and fruit tree management consult your local Cooperative Extension Office or the Penn State Small Scale Production Guide (available as a link through the ACN website, on Home Orchard page or can be purchased through our office). *See the diagrams below for some basic pruning guidelines.


Suggestions & Guidelines for the First Pruning

Apple and Pear Trees:

Apple PruningIf planted in the fall, prune back in early spring. Plant the tree so that the bud union is 2 inches above ground level. If no branches are present cut back the tree to 32-34 inches. On a branched tree; remove scaffold branches below 18 inches and cut back the leader to 18 inches above upper most scaffold branch. Remove limbs with narrow crotch angles that grow parallel to the central leader and shorten scaffold branches to 12 inches long.


Basic Pruning for Peach and Nectarine Trees:

Peach PruningSpring planting recommended. The bud union should be just above ground level. Cut back tree to approximately 30 inches. Cut side branches back to 3 or 4 buds. For a whip (unbranched tree) cut the tree back to 30 inches.


Tart Cherry Trees:

Bud union just above ground level; Usually branched; Remove narrow angled branches and broken limbs; Cut side branches back to 3 or 4 buds

Sweet Cherry Trees:

Bud union just above ground level; Usually is a strong whip (unbranched tree); Cut back at 38 - 40 inches

Plum & Apricot Trees:

Both types are very vigorous. Plums can be pruned to open center (like peach trees) or central leader (like apple trees). Apricots are usually well branched and are most often pruned to central leader (like apple trees) but can be pruned to open center (like peach trees).