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Fruit Tree Care: Fall Planting

A few days ago, I stepped outside to experience a cooler morning. Everything felt crisp — fall was in the air. To those of us who love nature, that annual experience isn’t defined by the calendar, it’s a feeling. Oh, how I love it!

Fall is my personal favorite time of year. Here at the nursery, budding time is concluding, apples are ripening, and the big tree harvest is just around the corner. Everything here at Stark Bro’s is nearing fruition. In football terms, we’re on the 10-yard line! And, because we grow our own trees, they are available to you for fall planting.

Fall Planting in Colder/Northern Zones (Zones 3, 4, & 5A)

When it comes to planting in the fall, be mindful of your location’s hardiness zone. For the individual in the cooler parts of Zone 5 and north, where your ground may be frozen by late-October or November, my advice is: plant in the spring. (At Stark Bro’s, fall shipping is only available for customers in zones 3 & 4 by special request.)

However, if you feel comfortable planting in the fall, and you expect your soil to be workable, take care and plant cold-hardy fruit trees. This includes…

• most varieties of apple trees (e.g. Honeycrisp™Starkspur® UltraMac™, and Cortland). Cold-hardy apple trees do well even when planted in cooler areas in the fall.

• “Zone 4″ plum trees such as the Bubblegum Plum® and Superior Plum.

• cold-hardy peach trees, which fair well for most northern gardeners.

• most pawpaw trees and American Persimmon Trees like the Yates Persimmon variety.

Be sure to provide winter protection for success overwintering your new fruit trees!

Fall Planting in Warmer/Southern Zones (Zones 5B, 6-10)

Growers in the warmer parts of Zone 5, Zone 6 and south have a huge opportunity by planting in the fall. If you are a grower in these warmer zones and you choose to benefit from the advantages of fall planting, please make sure you put tree guards on your trees’ trunks to avoid depredation of rabbits and rodents, as well as sunscald. Trees are most vulnerable to these problems in the fall, winter, and even early spring.

Steps to Planting in the Fall

  1. Plan Before You Plant
  2. Dig a Perfect Planting Hole
  3. Plant a Bare-root Tree / Plant a Stark® EZ Start® Potted Tree
  4. How to Safely Delay Planting (if you can’t plant when your order arrives)

Advantages of Fall PlantingStark Trees Autumn

Roots are able to settle in. This helps trees gain some establishment, and wake up with nature the next spring. This fall-planting approach is a head start that leads to heartier growth and even earlier fruiting.

Planting dormant trees diminishes transpiration. When fruit trees – or any plants and trees for that matter – are too far advanced (big and leafed out), or if they’re placed in an environment that is too warm at planting time, they give off moisture. This can threaten the tree’s well-being and impair its performance by increasing its need for water that, seasonally, may not be readily available.

My favorite time to plant is fall – when plants and trees are still dormant – to reduce their need for water. This practice works best for both me (growing millions of trees) and you (planting trees in your backyard). Here at Stark Bro’s, we want to give you, the grower, every advantage to succeed. Having fruit trees – as well as other plants and trees – available in the fall is one of them. I hope you’re enjoying these beautiful fall days as much as we are!

— Elmer Kidd, Stark Bro’s Chief Production Officer

Shop Fruit Trees to Plant This Fall »

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