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Trees which are late to leaf out/bloom

Posted by steve333 z5 CO Mountains (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 10, 14 at 13:43

I have noticed over the years, that some trees are late to leaf out in the spring. For a few, it just seems to be in their nature in that they are late every year. For others it is a one off type of thing. On some they will leaf out at the normal time on one or two of the lower branches, but wait a few weeks to do the same further up the tree.

My assumption is that these delayed and partial leaf-outs are a sign of stress in the tree. Something didn't go their way over the winter and they are struggling in the spring.

But I just thought I would check here. Is there any more knowledge about what causes this in fruit trees (apples, pears, plums)? Anything which can be done to prevent it?

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RE: Trees which are late to leaf out/bloom

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 10, 14 at 14:34

Late leafing is often lack of chilling in warm winter climates like mine. But is more likely to be winter cold injury in CO.

Best thing I did for both is to plant in a greenhouse. I can control freezes, ie eliminate, and even control chilling. You are in a good climate for a greenhouse. You could have an 8 month growing season instead of 5. No freezes, hail, birds, coons, wind, etc. Last winter I went 1270 chill hrs. This coming winter I'll limit it to about 1,000 because more wasn't any better.

Recently over 100 outside and hasn't been over 90F inside greenhouse due to evaporative cooling.

RE: Trees which are late to leaf out/bloom

OK, so other than keep them healthy during the year, and water enough to reduce water stress over the winter, not much one can do (at least for those trees already in the ground).

I actually do have a GH fruitnut, it's just not big enough for more stuff. It has a couple of citrus and a fig, but is mostly used for annuals that can't ripen up here in our short growing season (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, okra, and a few others).

Apples and pears generally do OK up here out in the weather, once they make it the first 5-10 years. Plums and peaches are marginal. I suppose this is just a process of selecting the most hardy trees, and those will continue. But if there was anything else I could do to ease the winter losses, it would help.

RE: Trees which are late to leaf out/bloom

FWIW, I was rereading Michael Phillips's "The Holistic Orchard" last nite and noticed that he makes the comment that a copper deficiency can cause late leafing out. And from a soil test some years ago, copper is one of the trace elements lacking in my soil.

So I was out there today, putting a "foliar spray" (can it be a foliar spray even if there are no leaves ;-) with some copper sulphate on those trees which were late this spring. A few have started leafing out since my first post, but still 4 or so with no signs of leaves yet. Not a control test as there were no trees I was willing to leave untreated. But it will be interesting to see if it has any effect...

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