Planning a New Orchard Planting? Don't forget your soil!

Just as you have to plan well in advance to order trees and posts for a new orchard planting, take the time to plan your soil management. Whether it is a replant location or a new orchard location now, when the soil is bare is the time to make improvements. Or perhaps it is better to think of it as maintenance - similar to the maintenance that you would do on your tractors or farm trucks.

Time of orchard planting Maintenance required
Orchards to be planted in fall 2014: full pre-plant preparation year

To do this spring:

  • Soil sample - fertility and pH
  • Apply fertilizer and lime if needed based upon soil test
  • Soil sample - nematodes (once soils are 50 F so anytime now)
  • Review nematode test results - options for suppression if needed include biofumigation with cover crops or chemical fumigation
  • Opportunity to add organic matter to build soil and enhance soil structure - use manure or compost

To do early summer:

  • Plant a cover crop to take advantage of the nitrogen from the manure or compost and to build soil structure with living roots. Eg. Sorghum sudan, pearl millet - something with fast growth
Orchards to be planted in fall 2014: with short season crop this summer (eg. vegetables or soybeans)

To do this spring:

  • Soil sample - fertility and pH
  • Apply fertilizer and lime if needed based upon soil test
  • Soil sample - nematodes (once soils are 50 F so anytime now)
  • Review nematode test results - options for suppression if needed include biofumigation with cover crops or chemical fumigation ( allow for time for this between crop harvest and tree planting)
  • Very short season crop ie zucchini may allow time for a short season cover crop to build soil structure eg buckwheat or cover crop radish/oats
  • Hope your soil organic matter levels are adequate, manure application really is not an option if you are growing vegetables this summer.
Orchards to be planted in spring 2015

To do this spring:

  • Soil sample - fertility and pH
  • Apply fertilizer and lime if needed based upon soil test (better to apply a year in advance for P, K and lime)
  • Soil sample - nematodes (knowing this now allows you the summer and fall to work to reduce populations)
  • Review nematode test results - options for suppression if needed include biofumigation with cover crops or chemical fumigation
  • Opportunity to add organic matter to build soil and enhance soil structure - use manure or compost

To do early summer:

  • Plant a cover crop to take advantage of the nitrogen from the manure or compost and to build soil structure with living roots. Eg mustard for biofumigation or sorghum sudan or pearl millet for biomass return

To do fall 2014:

  • Plant a fall cover crop like rye to provide ground cover over winter
  • If nematodes were high in spring - re-sample
Orchards to be planted in fall 2015 or later

To do this spring

  • Soil sample - fertility and pH
  • Apply fertilizer and lime if needed based upon soil test
  • Soil sample - nematodes (once soils are 50 F so anytime now)
  • Review nematode test results - options for suppression if needed include biofumigation with cover crops or chemical fumigation ( allow for time for this between crop harvest and tree planting)

To do fall 2014

  • Opportunity to add organic matter to build soil and enhance soil structure - use manure or compost
  • Plant a fall cover crop like rye to provide ground cover over winter
  • If nematodes were high in spring - re-sample

Insert cover crops where possible to build soil organic matter reserves, build soil structure and enhance soil water holding ability and drainage. Enhance drainage where needed and plan for water flow in the orchard.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca