Growing apples is an amazing experience. You can enjoy fresh, juicy fruits year after year with little maintenance. Though the mature apple trees will need little care, young trees are just a bit more demanding. Irrigation is one thing you need to be particular about, especially during the first year of growth. Once the tree is established and has a stronger root system, it will be more forgiving.
So how much water does an apple tree need? Continue reading and you’ll learn all about its watering requirements.
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How Much Water Does An Apple Tree Need?
The watering requirements of an apple tree vary with its age. Here’s what you should know:
Young Apple Trees
Young apple trees need plenty of water to grow a healthy root system. They’ll need frequent watering. Water them deeply to promote deeper and stronger roots. Ideally, you should water them up to three times a week during. If you have sandy soil that drains easily, you’ll have to water even more frequently to cover the moisture requirements of the young apple trees. After the newly planted apple tree has been in your yard for three to four months, you can reduce the watering frequency to about once a week.
Established Apple Trees
Older, established apple trees do not need regular watering, unlike young trees. They have a deep, extended root system that’s capable of absorbing much of the moisture and nutrients it needs from deep into the soil layers. So they won’t need weekly watering as you would offer a young apple tree during the first few seasons of growth.
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However, you’ll still need to irrigate older trees in periods of no rainfall, drought or when the weather is especially hot and dry. About an inch of water through irrigation or rainfall every 10 days or so is sufficient for most varieties of apple trees.
Watering Requirements During Blooming And Fruiting
Apples have a high water content. Consequently, apple trees will require more watering when they’re producing fruit. As a general rule, gardeners need to be particularly careful about the watering requirements of deciduous trees throughout the blooming and fruiting phase, until harvest. This is different from evergreen trees, which also need to be watered during the fall season.
For most apple trees, keep a check on the soil’s moisture from June to August. In general, water well-established apple trees when the top 8 to 10 inches of soil dry out. Water more often if the weather is particularly hot to make sure the tree continues producing big, juicy fruits. With little water, apple trees might even stop producing fruit.
Tips On Watering Apple Trees
Still confused on how to water your apple trees. Here are some tips that may come in handy.
- Water deeply, slowly and thoroughly each time you offer your apple tree a drink. To give the roots a deep soaking, you can offer as much as 15 gallons of water at a time. This ensures that the water seeps deep down into the soil layers and is available to the roots that are growing several inches below the soil layers. Apple tree’s roots are known to grow as deep as 3 feet, so you’ll want to make sure the moisture goes as deep too.
- Allow several inches of soil to dry out before offering water again in a week or a month, depending on the age of your tree. Though apple tree roots need a deep soaking each time, letting the roots dry out before the next watering is just as important. If the roots of your apple tree are always sitting in water, the tree is vulnerable to root rot.
- Always water the soil, and avoid drenching the trunk, branches of leaves. Watering by hand or using a soaker hose is ideal for this purpose as sprinklers also drench the leaves while watering the tree. Apple trees absorb all the water that they need through their roots that absorb moisture from the soil. Watering the leaves and trunk does not offer any benefits. In fact, it makes the tree susceptible to fungal diseases, pest attacks and wood rot.
Problems Due To Incorrect Watering
Both overwatering and underwatering have their drawbacks. It’s important to detect the problems in their early stages and fix them before they leave any long term impact on the apple tree.
Signs of Overwatering
Fruit cracking can sometimes suggest that the tree is being overwatered. Additionally, stunted growth of the tree and dying roots can also be associated with overwatering.
Signs Of Underwatering
Underwatering often results in stunted growth of the branches and a reduced quality of the fruit. The size of the fruit will also be smaller than optimal. Calcium deficiency symptoms, including “corkspot” and “bitterpit” are also often associated with lack of moisture. Calcium is only available to the roots in moist conditions. If you notice these symptoms and the soil is exceptionally dry, watering the tree deeply may help reverse the problem.
Now you know how much water does an apple tree need. Make sure your apple trees are getting enough water to produce those plump juicy fruits that you’re so fond of biting into. Offer just the right moisture to the tree – not too much or too less – and the tree will return the favor by offering those wonderful fruit you’ve been waiting for all year!