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
Biocontrols 2015 Conference
CitrusGrowers Go In-Depth At Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow
March 9, 2015
The first-of-its-kind event brought growers, researchers, regulators, and suppliers together for a two-day discussion on the latest biocontrols tools and technologies. Read More
Crop ProtectionAt Paramount Farming, Mating Disruption Pays Off
February 10, 2015
To say Brad Higbee is an expert in mating disruption, the use of pheromones to confuse target pests and reduce Read More
Crop ProtectionGrower Experienced In Biocontrols Says: Be Patient
February 4, 2015
The use of biocontrols in all aspects of agriculture is becoming more widespread. But incorporating biocontrols in a vegetable farming Read More
FruitsSounding Off On GMOs: The Arctic Apple Decision
March 27, 2015
Industry leaders share their feelings on the recently approved genetically modified apples. Read More
BerriesBuilding A Better Black Raspberry
March 27, 2015
Studies focusing on consumer preference, aphid resistance, heat tolerance, and genetics aim to capitalize on an expanding market. Read More
CitrusMore California Citrus Placed Under Psyllid Quarantine
March 27, 2015
Asian citrus psyllid is found in Madera County – the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. Read More
FruitsAhead Of The Curve, Part 2
March 27, 2015
Get educated with great resources in the tree fruit industry available at your fingertips. Read More
Apples & PearsMeet USApple’s Class of 2015 Young Apple Leaders
March 27, 2015
Young decision-makers see trip as an opportunity make sure the voice of the apple industry is heard by representatives. Read More
GrapesGlassy-Winged Sharpshooter Found In Marin County
March 26, 2015
This pest, known to spread Pierce’s Disease, could devastate California winegrapes. Read More
GrapesFirst Raisin Grape That Dries Naturally On Vine Developed
March 26, 2015
The new Sunpreme variety eliminates the need for growers to cut into woody canes before harvest. Read More
Fresh From Florida Strawberry Parfait recipe
BerriesNew Partnership Sends Florida Strawberries To Puerto Rico
March 26, 2015
Latest addition extends Sunshine State’s agricultural export reach in the Caribbean. Read More
drought management; irrigation; water management
FruitsHow To Become A Soil Sleuth
March 26, 2015
To correctly apply the proper nutrients at the right rates, you need to know where your fields are deficient and how to correctly diagnose a disorder. Read More
NutsWhy You Should Use Low-Rate Applications Of Potassium
March 26, 2015
These rates provide growers a low-cost method comparable to conventional applications. Read More
The Latest
FruitsSounding Off On GMOs: The Arctic Apple Decision
March 27, 2015
Industry leaders share their feelings on the recently approved genetically modified apples. Read More
BerriesBuilding A Better Black Raspberry
March 27, 2015
Studies focusing on consumer preference, aphid resistance, heat tolerance, and genetics aim to capitalize on an expanding market. Read More
CitrusMore California Citrus Placed Under Psyllid Quarantine
March 27, 2015
Asian citrus psyllid is found in Madera County – the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. Read More
FruitsAhead Of The Curve, Part 2
March 27, 2015
Get educated with great resources in the tree fruit industry available at your fingertips. Read More
Apples & PearsMeet USApple’s Class of 2015 Young Apple Leaders
March 27, 2015
Young decision-makers see trip as an opportunity make sure the voice of the apple industry is heard by representatives. Read More
GrapesGlassy-Winged Sharpshooter Found In Marin County
March 26, 2015
This pest, known to spread Pierce’s Disease, could devastate California winegrapes. Read More
GrapesFirst Raisin Grape That Dries Naturally On Vine Develop…
March 26, 2015
The new Sunpreme variety eliminates the need for growers to cut into woody canes before harvest. Read More
Fresh From Florida Strawberry Parfait recipe
BerriesNew Partnership Sends Florida Strawberries To Puerto Ri…
March 26, 2015
Latest addition extends Sunshine State’s agricultural export reach in the Caribbean. Read More
drought management; irrigation; water management
FruitsHow To Become A Soil Sleuth
March 26, 2015
To correctly apply the proper nutrients at the right rates, you need to know where your fields are deficient and how to correctly diagnose a disorder. Read More
NutsWhy You Should Use Low-Rate Applications Of Potassium
March 26, 2015
These rates provide growers a low-cost method comparable to conventional applications. Read More
Cold ProtectionWind Machine, Electric Pruners Donated To MSU Research …
March 25, 2015
New equipment to help protect research blocks from frost damage and provide center with latest technology. Read More
CitrusProposed Farm Bill Provision To Limit Payments To Non-F…
March 25, 2015
USDA has proposed a new rule which would limit payment to those who are only actively engaged in farming. Read More
Pennsylvania hard cider guild logo
Apples & PearsPennsylvania Hard Cider Producers Founded Independent T…
March 25, 2015
The Pennsylvania Cider Guild is designed to help promote and educate members and consumers. Read More
FruitsHow To Get Started With Partnerships And Sponsorships
March 25, 2015
Mark Saunders of Saunders Farm says your business is never too small or too big to get more value for what you do on your farm. Read More
FruitsValue Through Partnerships And Sponsorships [Opinion]
March 25, 2015
Mark Saunders of Saunders Farms says admission is one way to get value for what you do, but sponsorships and partnerships are the next level. Read More
chateau hough urban vineyard Cleveland Ohio
GrapesFrom Riots To Vineyard — A Story of Urban Revival
March 25, 2015
Ex-convict’s inner-city vineyard in the Hough neighborhood in Cleveland an opportunity for those leaving incarceration for a bright future in viticulture. Read More
FruitsWorld Ag Expo 2015: New Tools For Fruit Growers
March 24, 2015
From wind machines to solar-powered pumps, here is some of the new equipment on display this year's edition of the nation's largest farm show. Read More
Apples & PearsNeedles Found In Honeycrisp Sold At Grocery Store
March 24, 2015
Apples were believed to be tampered with; initial surveillance footage was inconclusive. Read More