Jerry & Carol Barnett

2568 County Road 783

Alvin, Texas 77511


Apples

Fertilizing

Apple trees are generally fertilized with nitrogen each year. In fact that is the only fertilizer most apple trees will need, especially if the soil pH is above 7.8. If your soil pH is between 6 and 7.5, or if your soil test indicates you need P or K, your first fertilizer application can be a 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer such as 15-5-10, otherwise just use nitrogen; usually ammonium sulfate.
One month after planting, broadcast 1 cup of 21-0-0 over a 2-foot circle around the tree if the tree has made 6 inches of growth. Keep the fertilizer 6 inches away from the trunk and broadcast it evenly over the recommended area. In May and June following planting, broadcast another cup of 21-0-0 around the tree.
In early spring of the second season, broadcast 1 cup of 21-0-0 fertilizer over a 3-foot circle; again avoid contact with the tree. Repeat this again in April, May, and June. In year three, use 2 cups four times and in year four, 3 cups four times. After 4 years, fertilize the trees as if they were mature.


Pruning and shaping

The day you plant your trees is the day you begin to prune and train for future production. Neglect results in poor growth and delayed fruiting.
Pruning a young tree controls its shape by developing a strong, well-balanced framework of scaffold branches. Remove or cut back unwanted branches early to avoid the necessity of large cuts in later years. The currently preferred method of pruning and training nontrellised trees is the central leader system.
Pruning in late winter consists of removing undesirable limbs as well as tipping terminals to encourage branching. Summer training is most beneficial if done in early June.

Apricots

Contrary to common belief, apricots are self-fruitful and do not require a pollinator. Unfortunately fruiting is inconsistent on all varieties. The greatest consistency in fruiting is on trees planted near a building although it is not uncommon to have yearly fruiting on certain trees growing in the open. Frost damage sometimes causes the crop loss, but often fruit fail to set when there is no frost damage. All budded varieties as well as seedling threes are subject to this inconsistent cropping.


Fertilizing, Pruning and shaping

Refer to the Peaches section for fertilizing, pruning and shaping info on Apricots.

Bananas

Bananas are large, herbaceous plants which grow very quickly and provide a decidedly tropical appearance to home landscapes. The rapid growth and tropical appearance are responsible for the increased popularity of banana plants in Texas. Propagation of bananas is by suckers, which are produced profusely at the base of each plant. Preferred sucker size for transplanting is 3 to 4 inches in diameter, but other sizes are successful. The leaves may be trimmed off at transplanting or the top may be cut off 1 to 2 feet above ground. Container-grown banana plants are simply transplanted without trimming. Bananas require good watering and fertilization; the latter can be either nitrogen alone or a complete balanced fertilizer. Some suckers may be cut off at or below ground if the clump gets too large for the area. There are a number of varieties of bananas, including cooking types, fresh types, and ornamentals. Many of the banana plants sold in retail nurseries are of unknown variety. As ornamentals only, it does not really matter whether the variety is known -- only whether it is of standard (tall) size or dwarf. Banana plants are quite sensitive to frosts and are readily killed back to the ground in very light freezes. Normally, new suckers will grow back the following spring. There are virtually no pests that cause extensive damage to bananas. The most common problem is tattering of the leaves due to wind. Lower leaves which hang down the trunk can be cut off if desired. Fruiting of bananas will normally require 10 to 15 months from the time a sucker emerges. Consequently, fruiting does not usually occur in frostprone areas, as the plants keep getting killed back to the ground. However, heavy fruiting occurs in most frost-free areas and in other areas following a particularly mild winter. The fruit stem normally requires 3 to 4 months to mature following its appearance. However, do not expect the bananas to turn yellow on the stalk. Maturity is achieved when the individual bananas become full and rounded, after which they can be cut and hung or placed in a warm area to ripen to good eating quality. Once a stalk of bananas begins to ripen, the entire stalk will ripen in a few days.
Dr. Julian Sauls, Extension Horticulturist
Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Weslaco, Texas

Bananas are another easy to grow crop that take very little care except for wind and freeze protection. Nearly all the plants you see in this area are 12 to 15 feet tall and most of the fruit that I have tasted isnít particularly good. There are dwarf varieties that only grow 5 to eight feet and have superior tasting fruit. We have a Dwarf Cavendish banana that you can not tell the difference between it and a store bought banana. The Dwarf Cavendish only grow eight feet tall. A superb dwarf variety is available that only grows to two feet tall. We have two more varieties that havenít fruited. The plant will start to bloom when it has grown 43 leaves.

When the plant starts to bloom, it will leave little bananas on the stalk as it grows. When the bananas stop forming for a couple inches, cut off the bloom to conserve the plants energy for the fruit. You may have to tie or brace the stalk of bananas to keep from putting too much weight on the trunk. After all the bananas have been harvested, cut the main trunk off close to the ground to conserve the energy in the roots for the pups (suckers) for next yearís crop of bananas. Some of the suckers can be cut from the mother plant with a sharp spade, dug up and moved to another location or given away. The plant will benefit from periodic watering and ammonium sulfate (21-0-0). Apply ľ cup a month after the young plant starts to grow and increase to 2 cups per month when the plant starts fruiting. My plants donít receive anything close to this type treatment.

Nectarines

Fertilizing


Pruning and shaping


Peaches

Fertilizing

Fertilizing peaches starts with adjusting the soil pH to 6.5 before planting. Incorporate the lime at least a foot deep and over an area approximately 10' by 10' where the tree will be planted. Your county Extension office can provide you with information on soil testing and make recommendations from the results.
In March after the trees have been planted and the soil settled by a drenching rain, broadcast one cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer over an area three feet in diameter. Do not allow fertilizer to accumulate around the tree trunk. In early June and again in early August, broadcast one-half cup of calcium nitrate or equivalent over an area three feet in diameter.
Beginning the second year, fertilize the trees twice a year; in early March and around the first of August. Use these rules of thumb for the two fertilizer applications:
  • Early March application - Apply one cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer per year of tree age to a maximum of 10 cups for mature trees.
  • August application - Apply one cup of calcium nitrate or equivalent per year of tree age to a maximum of four cups for mature trees. Do not make the August application if you lost your crop to a late freeze. Do not apply until harvest of late season varieties is completed.


Pruning and shaping

The day you plant your trees is the day you begin to prune and train for future production. Too often backyard growers plant trees and leave them unattended for several years. This neglect results in poor growth, shading out and limb breakage. The purpose of pruning a young tree is to control its shape by developing a strong, well-balanced framework of scaffold branches. Because peach trees bear fruit on wood that grew the previous year, the pruning system best suited to keep the fruit-bearing surface close to the ground is the Open Center. The Open Center, which roughly resembles a vase, is also a good system for plums.


Thinning

Peach trees grown under favorable conditions will set more fruit than the trees are capable of successfully carrying to maturity. Therefore, the removal of excess fruit from the trees is essential to ensure satisfactory development of the color, shape and size of the remaining peaches. This will reduce limb breakage as well. Fruit should be removed by hand so that the remaining peaches are spaced about every six inches. Hand thin the trees approximately four weeks after bloom.

Pears

Fertilizing


Pruning and shaping


Plums

Fertilizing


Pruning and shaping