Well this weather has been a bit deceiving. I’m sure that according to growing degree days we are a little on the slow side. Check out this calculator here.
BUT, as we check out our cherry staging, we are well into the green tip stage in most areas and in some others well into bud swell. Hopefully all your pruning has been done, even if it isn’t picked up. I think I’ll start a new budget for a mulcher/flail mower, and for more that one reason… (Picking up branches is not as much fun as I imagined..)
I was also out taking soil samples this past week and am always amazed by the amount of rock that some of our trees grow in! (86% was the highest according to past soil samples.) I personally like the bare tree row, with grass in-between. I like the look and the microbial benefit with giving the roots room within their row. It does mean we need to fertilize a little bit more and mow the grass, but to me its worth it. (Note, make sure you inform your soil lab and fertilizer rep that you have grass, you’ll see an increase in nitrogen and sulfur maybe even iron to feed that grass as well as the trees. In a recent fertilizer seminar by WSU, I was astonished at some of the rates of fertilizer it took to grow 1 lb of sweet cherries (they were pretty low). The thing that I had to remind myself is they were talking about crop removal only. Trees are much different than something like wheat that only lives for 1 year. You need to feed the tree for the rest of its life, not just for the fruit. That’s not to say that some over feralization and or loss of nutrients don’t happen, because they do. This is why we like to see the soil analysis every 2 or 3 years and a tissue sample as often as we can.
Back to the dirt, when digging down or rather attempting to dig down 2 feet for a soil sample I was pleasantly surprised in some places. In one orchard I could only get down about a foot before running into too large of rocks. In the same orchard 400 yards down the row and 4 rows over, I was able to dig 2 feet deep, no problem. The rocks seem to shrink to less than an inch and clay/silt turned to sand.
Ok, now back to mulching… I was in about 7 different orchards yesterday and I can tell which orchards mulch year to year and which do not. These particular orchards have been growing for over 10 years and a few closer to 30. When digging down to get these soil samples I could see the effects of the mulching on the top 4-6 inches. The sample went from silty rock, to straight rock, to clay. On another note I did see roots in the top 6 inches and at the bottom of the 2 feet, that is if I didn’t run into a rock!
What is your cherry staging, comment below to see how close or far apart we are!