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
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
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.
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
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:
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:
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).