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
tomatoes and strawberries
BerriesScientists Seek To Save Flavor Of Tomatoes And Strawberries
April 17, 2015
A $500,000 grant will enable University of Florida researchers to focus on how light can affect the quality and taste of produce after harvest. Read More
GrapesThe Economic Impact Of Grapevine Leafroll Disease
April 17, 2015
Different control strategies are recommended depending on the prevalence of the disease in vineyard blocks. Read More
Natalie Parkell and Kevin Osburn of Vertical Horizon Farms
CitrusSmall Family Farms Can Survive [Opinion]
April 17, 2015
It is reassuring amid the corporate climate the agriculture industry has experienced in more recent times that there is still room for the little guy, and — more importantly — a need. Read More
GrapesTable Grape Commission Awarded More Funding To Study Postharvest Treatment
April 16, 2015
The research will ensure California grape exports continue uninterrupted. Read More
Tom West Blueberries family
BerriesUrban Sprawl Doesn’t Stop 4th-Generation Florida Farm From Growing
April 16, 2015
Growing in town supports the evolution of Tom West Blueberries. Read More
Golden Rice
CitrusMore Social Commentators Changing Their Views On GMO Crops
April 15, 2015
Could public opinion be swayed by evolving narration on genetic modification? Read More
EquipmentTips To Reduce Soil Compaction In The Field
April 15, 2015
Growers are encouraged to check and maintain proper tire pressure as temperature changes throughout the growing season. Read More
FruitsNew Protective Coating Available For Bee Hives
April 14, 2015
Sustainable crop management company Biobest has announced the launch of “Bee-Coat,” a new protective coating for bumblebee hives. It is Read More
Gala green tip apple bloom
Apples & PearsApple Scab Spores Begin To Emerge In Pennsylvania
April 14, 2015
Now is a good time to apply copper sprays to protect trees. Read More
FruitsRecord Low Snowpack In Washington State
April 14, 2015
Experts say snowmelt occurring earlier than expected. Read More
The Latest
tomatoes and strawberries
BerriesScientists Seek To Save Flavor Of Tomatoes And Strawber…
April 17, 2015
A $500,000 grant will enable University of Florida researchers to focus on how light can affect the quality and taste of produce after harvest. Read More
GrapesThe Economic Impact Of Grapevine Leafroll Disease
April 17, 2015
Different control strategies are recommended depending on the prevalence of the disease in vineyard blocks. Read More
Natalie Parkell and Kevin Osburn of Vertical Horizon Farms
CitrusSmall Family Farms Can Survive [Opinion]
April 17, 2015
It is reassuring amid the corporate climate the agriculture industry has experienced in more recent times that there is still room for the little guy, and — more importantly — a need. Read More
GrapesTable Grape Commission Awarded More Funding To Study Po…
April 16, 2015
The research will ensure California grape exports continue uninterrupted. Read More
Tom West Blueberries family
BerriesUrban Sprawl Doesn’t Stop 4th-Generation Florida …
April 16, 2015
Growing in town supports the evolution of Tom West Blueberries. Read More
Golden Rice
CitrusMore Social Commentators Changing Their Views On GMO Cr…
April 15, 2015
Could public opinion be swayed by evolving narration on genetic modification? Read More
EquipmentTips To Reduce Soil Compaction In The Field
April 15, 2015
Growers are encouraged to check and maintain proper tire pressure as temperature changes throughout the growing season. Read More
FruitsNew Protective Coating Available For Bee Hives
April 14, 2015
Sustainable crop management company Biobest has announced the launch of “Bee-Coat,” a new protective coating for bumblebee hives. It is Read More
Gala green tip apple bloom
Apples & PearsApple Scab Spores Begin To Emerge In Pennsylvania
April 14, 2015
Now is a good time to apply copper sprays to protect trees. Read More
FruitsRecord Low Snowpack In Washington State
April 14, 2015
Experts say snowmelt occurring earlier than expected. Read More
Crop ProtectionMore Help Needed To Track Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs, …
April 14, 2015
This pest, a problem in apples, tomatoes, and other fruit in the North, has recently moved into Georgia.    Read More
NutsPart 2: Spring Weed Management Tips For Almonds: Reduce…
April 14, 2015
Follow these tips to help improve long-term efficacy of herbicides. Read More
NutsPart 2: Combating Navel Orangeworm: IPM Approaches to R…
April 14, 2015
Follow these IPM approaches to reduce unnecessary sprays and manage pyrethroid resistance. Read More
CucurbitsHow To Control Damaging Diseases In Melons
April 14, 2015
Some of the top diseases to watch for include Fusarium wilt, angular leaf spot, and powdery mildew. Read More
CitrusFlorida Agriculture Rings Up Record $4.2 Billion In Int…
April 13, 2015
Accomplishment represents third year in a row that Sunshine State exports have topped the $4 billion mark. Read More
Disease ControlWebcast: Control High Tunnel Tomato Diseases
April 13, 2015
As part of a series of free educational webcasts on The Plant Management Network, a nonprofit online resource for researchers, Read More
TomatoesSuccess With Vegetable Grafting
April 10, 2015
Grafted Growers began as most successful companies do, which is to say, as a collaboration between innovative, and like-minded individuals. Read More
GrapesMeet The Expert: George Zhuang, Viticulturist
April 10, 2015
Zhuang, a new University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor, plans to focus his research on increasing production with fewer resources. Read More