Baby Those Babies

Baby Those Babies

Nitrogen is the most important element we can apply to our tree fruit crops. Almond growth and productivity depend on the availability and uptake of nitrogen. Most fertilizer recommendations are based on making nitrogen available to our trees so that a nitrogen shortage does not limit tree growth or productivity.

However, it’s important for growers to keep in mind that young almond trees don’t require as much nitrogen as older trees. I like my fellow farm adviser Wilbur Reil’s rule of “1 ounce of actual nitrogen per year of age of tree.” That rate can be applied several times per season, but never more than that at any one application. Thus, a first leaf (first year in your orchard) almond tree should not receive more than 1 ounce of actual nitrogen per any application. A five-year-old almond tree should not receive more than 5 ounces of actual nitrogen per one single application.

The University of California only recommends 1 ounce of actual nitrogen per one-year-old tree over the course of the entire season, but I have been told by many growers and pest control advisers that this rate is not enough for the growth they desire. So, if you want to put out 5 ounces of actual nitrogen per one-year-old tree, do so in five applications and not all at once!

I have seen many trees burned by nitrogen, espe-cially if liquid fertilizers like UN-32 (urea ammonium nitrate 32%) or CAN 17 (a clear solution of calcium nitrate and ammonium nitrate) are used in single applications. These liquid fertilizers are very effective and easy to use, but it doesn’t take much to burn young trees. In fact, I do not recommend using these liquid fertilizers on first leaf trees — I prefer to see triple 15-15-15 (15% nitrogen; 15% phosphorous; 15% potassium) fertilizers used on first leaf trees. I like to see these granular fertilizers placed at least 18 inches from the trunk.

Can The Liquids

With micro-sprinkler and drip irrigation systems, liquid nitrogen fertilizers can be used very efficiently and easily by growers. But be careful; I know several farm managers that will not allow more than 10 gallons of UN-32 per acre per application on mature almond trees. UN-32 contains 3.54 pounds of actual nitrogen per gallon. If you put out 10 gallons of UN-32 per acre, you added 35.4 pounds of nitrogen per acre. If you have 120 trees per acre and do the math you come up with 4.72 ounces of actual nitrogen per tree — almost 5 ounces! I recommend not applying higher rates than this per application.

Also, growers should pay close attention during the summer months. I have seen nitrogen burn occur more often during hot summer days when trees have elevated transpiration rates and obviously faster nitrogen uptake rates than what would have occurred at a cooler time of the year.

Spoon Feed If Possible

If you plan on applying a total of 200 pounds of nitrogen per year per acre to your orchard, I would prefer to see you add 10 pounds of actual nitrogen in 20 irrigations over the course of the season, rather than applying it all at once or even in two split applications of 100 pounds each. I know many growers who “spoon feed” their trees with injections of nitrogen and other liquid fertilizers into their irrigation systems, and they seem quite pleased with the fertilizer efficiency.

Another factor is that mature trees need more nitrogen in early spring so you may want to emphasize applying more nitrogen earlier in the season than later. Nitrogen uptake has been shown to be correlated with leaf activity and photosynthesis. Thus, dormant winter applications of nitrogen should be avoided!  

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Grapes
February 18, 2017
Sustainability Is a Growing Factor in Wine Purchasing
California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance updates certification program, shows sustainability is important part of wine trade. Read More
citrus psyllid closeup
Insect & Disease Update
February 18, 2017
The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging
Despite control challenges, keeping the pest in check remains the best approach to managing HLB. Read More
IMPAC.org screenshot
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Farmers Win Over Consumers
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what it is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Grapes
February 17, 2017
Washington Organization Rebrands Itself
Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers unveils new identity at convention, now known as Washington Winegrowers Association. Read More
Registration area at the 2017 Florida Blueberry Growers Association Spring Meeting
Berries
February 17, 2017
Florida Blueberry Growers Counting on a Comeback
With last season's disaster in the rear view, all eyes are searching for bluer skies. Read More
Agras MG-1 agriculture drone
Equipment
February 17, 2017
Wanted: Tech Innovators for Drone Challenge
Land O'Lakes Prize offers up $150,000 to help make drones more useable for farmers Read More
Fruits
February 17, 2017
Are Drones the Future of Pollination?
Researchers in Japan have turned drones into robot bees as artificial pollinators. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Start-Up Hort Tech Companies Honored
Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology Scholarships promote sustainability. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Farmer Success Act Reintroduced to Congress
Bill to add young growers to Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Read More
Fruits
February 16, 2017
New App Helps Fruit Growers Calculate Chill Hours
App helps growers calculate chill hours based on locations and models and assess physiological needs of fruit crops. Read More
The Latest
Grapes
February 18, 2017
Sustainability Is a Growing Factor in Wi…
California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance updates certification program, shows sustainability is important part of wine trade. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
February 18, 2017
The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging
Despite control challenges, keeping the pest in check remains the best approach to managing HLB. Read More
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Far…
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what it is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Grapes
February 17, 2017
Washington Organization Rebrands Itself
Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers unveils new identity at convention, now known as Washington Winegrowers Association. Read More
Berries
February 17, 2017
Florida Blueberry Growers Counting on a …
With last season's disaster in the rear view, all eyes are searching for bluer skies. Read More
Equipment
February 17, 2017
Wanted: Tech Innovators for Drone Challe…
Land O'Lakes Prize offers up $150,000 to help make drones more useable for farmers Read More
Fruits
February 17, 2017
Are Drones the Future of Pollination?
Researchers in Japan have turned drones into robot bees as artificial pollinators. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Start-Up Hort Tech Companies Honor…
Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology Scholarships promote sustainability. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Farmer Success Act Reintroduced to…
Bill to add young growers to Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Read More
Fruits
February 16, 2017
New App Helps Fruit Growers Calculate Ch…
App helps growers calculate chill hours based on locations and models and assess physiological needs of fruit crops. Read More
Citrus
February 16, 2017
Food Trends Driving Growth Opportunities…
More niche markets emerging for growers to give consumers what they want and need. Read More
Vegetables
February 15, 2017
Tanimura & Antle Will Now Be Partial…
The third-generation farming company takes employee commitment to the next level Read More
Business Planning
February 15, 2017
Are Retailers Your New Competition?
Target will be following a trend that is already under way in Germany and China: offering shoppers greens that are grown right there in the store. Read More
Citrus
February 15, 2017
Florida Citrus Community Loses Longtime …
John Merritt, known as an innovative grower and staunch industry advocate, was 60. Read More
Farm Management
February 14, 2017
Californians Holding Breath as More Stor…
Nearly 200,000 people evacuated below nation’s tallest dam; even growers have had enough for now. Read More
Stone Fruit
February 14, 2017
Georgia Peach Growers Brace for Low Chil…
Last year trees netted almost 700 chill hours; however, Extension agent expects that figure to drop to 600 hours this year. Read More
Grapes
February 14, 2017
2016 California Winegrape Crush Up 9%
Prices were up 12%, and red wine grapes continue to gain on white wine grapes in popularity, though ‘Chardonnay’ remained king. Read More
Berries
February 14, 2017
Wish Farms Shows Love With Super-Sized S…
More than 4,000 pounds of locally grown produce from Central Florida farming operation goes to help feed needy families in the Tampa area. Read More