. Research Report 1977-2
Agricultural Research Center
I Monticello, Florida
May 1, 1977
DOORYARD FRUIT FOR NORTH FLORIDA
C. E. Arnold, M. C. Lutrick, C. P. Andrews and T. E. Crocker
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida
Introduction.............. .. .... ......... ........ .................................1
G general .. .. .. ... ...... ...... .. .. ..... ... ..... .. .... .. ...... .. .. .. .. .. ...... .... .. 1
Stone Fruits ... .. ... ..... ... ...... .. ... ... .. .... .. .... ...... ...... ......1
Pom e Fruits ........ ........ ......................................................2
Persim m ons ........ ... ...... ..... ... ............................................ 2
Figs .. .. .. .. .. .. .... . .. . .. .. .. .. .. .. . .. . .. .. ...... 2
Pecans ............... .......... ... .. .. .......................................... 2
Blackberries .......... ........... .. .. ................................... 3
Blueberries ........ ... .. ....... ............................................ 3
G rapes ........ ........................ . .... .... .. .... .. .. .. ...3
Planting the O orchard ................ ................. ............. .................... . 4
Fertilization .. . .. . . .. . .. . .. . .. .. .. .. . .. .. .. .. ........ 6
Cultivation and Mulching .............. .................. . . . . . . . 7
Training and Pruning ................. . . ....... . ...... .......... .. .. ..... 7
Fruit M maturity and Harvesting ........... ...... ........ .. ........ ....... .... . .8
Pest Control . .. .. . . . .. .. .. .. .. ... .. .. .. .. .. . .. . 9
Excecrpts in this report were taken from Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Circular 322 by M. C. Lutrick, J. S.
Shoemaker, A. I1. Krczdorn and J. E. Brogdon.
DOORYARD FRUIT FOR NORTH FLORIDA
C. E. Arnold1, M. C. Lutrick2, C. P. Andrews3 and T. E. Crocker4
A successful home orchard requires much horticultural
skill to develop and maintain since, unlike animals, fruit
trees are semi-permanent. Homeowners who select the
wrong variety or site generally fail regardless of how much
care and attention are applied. Pest control on trees around
a home consists largely of preventive measures and may re-
quire application of materials whether or not a disease or
insect is present. Spray applications applied late are of little
Despite the careful attention needed, the pleasure of
eating truly fresh fruit picked at its peak of maturity more
than compensates the enthusiast for the time and effort.
A well designed and managed home orchard can furnish
both fine fruit and pleasant hours of gardening.
Peaches, nectarines and plums are called stone or drupe
fruits because they consist of a seed enclosed in a heavy pit
or stone surrounded by soft flesh. Other stone fruits, such
as apricots, almonds, and cherries are not well adapted to
Florida and should not be planted. The stone fruits are
closely related, all being different species within the same
The fruit development occurs in stages. During the first
stage, which starts immediately after fruit set, the stone or
pit is soft and the proportion of flesh to pit is small. The
second stage is a transitional stage in which the pit hardens.
Sometime after the stone hardens, the third stage begins
1Associate Professor (Center Director), Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Agricultural Research
(enter, Monticello, FL.
2Associate Professor, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,
University of Florida, Agricultural Research Center, Jay, FL.
3Assistant 'Professor, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,
University of Florida, Agricultural Research Center, Monticello, FL.
4Associate Professor (Extension Ilorticulturist), University of
Ilorida, Gainesville, FL.
and flesh develops rapidly and fruit diameter increases
correspondingly. This is often called the "final swell".
Peach, nectarine and plum trees often set too heavily,
and part of the fruit must be removed or thinned to obtain
adequate fruit size. To obtain maximum effect, thinning
must be done prior to pit hardening or the second stage of
development-which can be recognized by the increased
difficulty of cutting through the pit with a knife. When the
knife first encounters a resistance to cutting through the
seed, the pit hardening stage has begun.
Optimum soil moisture conditions are essential during
the final swell to increase fruit size. Irrigation is necessary
during dry periods due to the characteristic shallow root
system of stone fruits. Avoid frequent light irrigations since
this tends to promote root development near the soil sur-
face. Apply 2 inches of water at intervals of 10 to 14 days.
Peach and nectarine trees should make extensive ter-
minal growth each year, which requires relatively heavy
annual pruning. On the other hand, plums fruit on both
long twigs and on very short twigs called spurs. Since there
is less terminal growth than for peaches, correspondingly
less pruning is required. Fruit buds are produced during the
spring and summer on current season growth.
Stone fruits have a winter "chilling" requirement. This
means trees must be subjected to periods of low tempera-
ture during the winter if they are to bloom and grow satis-
factorily in the spring. The required length of cold period
depends on the variety. Florida's mild winters greatly re-
strict the number of varieties available. Only those adapted
to your area should be considered.
Under Florida conditions, stone fruits tend to bloom
soon after the chilling requirement is satisfied. This,
coupled with the alternate periods of warm and cold wea-
ther in the late winter and spring in Florida may result in
early bloom which is frequently damaged by late freezes.
Since this is more of a hazard to peaches and nectarines
than plums, warmest sites should be reserved for the former.
Peaches and nectarines cannot tolerate "wet feet" and
require better internal drainage of soil moisture than plums.
The 'Marianna' plum is not a good rootstock for peaches
because the tree will be very short-lived. On the other hand,
peach can be used as a rootstock for plums-but only when
planted on well-drained soils. In Florida only nematode-
resistant peach rootstocks should be considered.
Peaches, nectarines, and plums are susceptible to a
multitude of pests, including diseases, nematodes and insects.
Thus, a regular pest control program must be followed to
insure good fruit quality. (For additional information on
peaches and nectarines refer to Fla. Coop. Ext. Ser. Cir.
Apples (Malus sp.), pear (Pyrus sp.), quince (Cydonia
sp.), and the native haw (Crataegus sp.), commonly called
Mayhaw, are examples of pome fruits. Most apple, pear and
quince varieties are not well adapted to Florida because of
their high chilling requirement. (For additional information
on apples refer to Fruit Crops Fact Sheet FC-75-14)
Fire-blight, a bacterial disease, is particularly damaging
throughout the southeastern United States and prevents
successful production of the soft dessert or European-type
Oriental or hard pears are tolerant of fire-blight and
certain varieties are adapted to Florida's climate. Even
adapted varieties are somewhat susceptible to leaf spot,
however, and proper control requires more spraying than
the hobbyist is likely to accept. Moreover, except for
canning, the quality of Oriental pears is poor. On the other
hand, pears will grow and produce on virtually all soils
and the bloom is very ornamental. Some growers are willing
to accept the reduced yield and quality of the fruit that
results from leaf spot. (For more information on pears,
see Fla. Coop Ext. Ser. Cir. 343)
The native haw makes a small, attractive dooryard
tree, but the small fruits are usable only for making jelly.
The Oriental persimmon (Diospyros kaki) is well
adapted to northern Florida. It is often budded on native
persimmon (D. virginia) seedlings, but when budded on
Oriental seedlings it generally produces larger crops.
Excessive nitrogen fertilization results in great vigor
and possible shedding of young fruit. Late growth in the
fall and activation of cambial growth of the trunk dur-
ing warm periods followed by freezing temperatures in
the winter may cause bark to split and cold cankers to
Some are seedy and others seedless. Some varieties
must become soft before the fruit loses its astringency.
Others are non-astringent and can be eaten while still
firm and crisp. The demand for persimmon fruits in the
United States is very small, even though the persimmon is a
favorite fruit of commercial significance in the Orient. lor
local use, persimmons can he grown on a wide range of'
soils with little or no pest control or pruning. The tree
itself has large, glossy, green leaves and highly colored
fruit that make it a beautiful dooryard tree.
The edible fig (Ficus carica) is structurally a fleshy,
hollow stem with flowers produced on the inner walls of
the cavity. There is an opening or eye at the apex of this
false fruit through which disease organisms and insects can
enter, causing souring and splitting. However, varieties do
differ in the extent of which this eye is "open", and those
such as 'Celeste', which have eyes that are not open until
near maturity, are best adapted to Florida.
Some varieties require cross-pollination by a special
wasp that is not present in Florida, and should not he
planted because the fruits fall before maturing.
Fig trees grow vigorously. While they do not require
pruning for continued good fruiting, pruning helps keep the
tree in bounds and prolongs the fruiting season. Although
quite hardy when fully winter dormant, the fig often leafs
out early in the spring and is killed back by late freezes.
This generally keeps the tree from attaining a large size and
results in development of a bush form with several central
leaders rather than a tree with a single trunk.
The fig is best adapted to near-desert conditions, but
actually grows well throughout most of the southern
United States. In the relatively heavy rainfall area of
Florida, fig rust should be controlled by spraying. A fruit
weevil, which cannot be controlled economically often
causes damage. Rootknot nematode can cause severe
damage, especially on deep sandy soils. On sandy soils best
results are obtained from trees planted near a building or
when a heavy mulch is used. In both cases a more favorable
root environment is furnished. Full sun is desirable and
competition from grass and other plants should be avoided.
(More information on figs can be found in Fla. Coop. Ext.
Ser. Cir. 31 1A)
The pecan is one of the most important tree crops
grown in the South and makes a beautiful dooryard tree.
It belongs to the Juglandaceae family-along with the hicko-
ries and black walnuts but in a separate genus (Carya).
Perhaps the most vexing problem with pecans is their
tendency to bear heavy crops some years and very light or
no crops during others. There is also a tendency for many
nuts to be poorly filled.
Several factors enter into these two problems. The
pecan requires large amounts of food, which is produced by
the leaves, for kernel formation or "filling", that takes
place in the late summer and early fall just prior to leal'
drop. When crops are excessively heavy, there is not enough
food to fill the nuts, the shell of which formed much earlier.
Also, since there is no food reserve left ti form lower lIbds
and flowers in the following la:te winter and spring a: lighl
crop results the following year.
Thus, it is highly important that leaf surfaces remnain
undamaged during the growing season and into the fall to
produce Illhe maximum amount of food for the maturing
ntiis :l lth following year's flowers. There are many
(lisca5cs, iiisctis :Id miles that may damage the leaves
suffi'icicnily I cause poor filling and flowering. A fall flush
of ne(w leaves is also very damaging because this requires
food tha; would otherwise be used for nut and flower
foniation. New leaves do not mature soon enough to pro-
duce sufficient food to compensate for that used in their
Of course, damage to the green shuck of the pecan by
such pests as shuck-worm or scab may result in poor filling
even though a good leaf surface is present. Varieties suscep-
tible to scab should not be planted.
Erratic or alternate bearing can be held to a minimum
through proper pest control and other cultural programs.
The pecan is also somewhat unique in its production of
female flowers on the tips of new shoots and male flowers
,or catkins on the old wood. If, as is sometimes the case,
male flowers produce pollen at a time when female flowers
are not mature, the resulting failure to pollinate results in
little or no crop. However, lack of pollination is seldom a
problem in pecan areas because pollen from other varieties,
which mature their pollen at different times, is carried long
distances by wind to the female flowers of varieties which
do not have their own pollen available.
While pecan trees can be grown rather easily, a good
crop requires a well-fertilized soil and carefully planned and
executed program of pest control. This sort of program and
site selection is often not possible for the producer of
dooryard pecans; however, the erratic bearing can be
tolerated because the beauty and shade produced justify
the planting of dooryard pecan trees. (Additional informa-
tion on pecans is available in Fla. Coop. Ext. Ser. Cir. 280B)
There are several species of Iubus called blackberries.
Some are upright and require no support but others are
trailing and require a trellis. The trailing types are often
called dewberries. Raspberries also belong to Rubus but will
not survive the heat of southern climates.
Of all fruit crops, blackberries are one of the easiest to
grow and most widely adapted. Native species and commer-
cial plantings extend from Florida to the Pacific Northwest.
However, varieties differ as to winter cold requirements and
susceptibility to certain diseases. Proper variety selection is
Blackberries produce their flowers and fruits on the
previous year's growth. These shoots die back at the end of
the fruiting year and new growth which arises from below
the ground in the spring forms the new fruiting surface for
the next year. This growth is very extensive in Florida's
long growing season, permitting the pruning of both old
:nd new growth back to ground level immediately after
harvest. (See Training and Pruning)
Since blackberries produce shallow fleshy root systems,
deep cultivation must be avoided. Many new plants arise
from the root several feet from the plant and must be re-
moved to keep an organized, easy-to-manage planting.
Blackberries thrive on virtually all soils. The frost
hazard is lower than for most fruits because of a late, pro-
longed season of bloom. (For more complete information
on blackberries, refer to Fla. Coop. Ext. Ser. Cir. 325A)
There are several species of blueberries (Vaccinium
sp.), some of which are native as far north as the Hudson
Bay area of Canada and others as far south as Florida. The
commercial type adapted to the mild winters of northern
Florida is the rabbiteye (V. ashei).
Blueberries form a bush with numerous leaders arising
at or near the base of the plant. The leaders and branches
survive and produce fruit for several years, but die back
from time to time and are replaced by others. Occasionally,
the bush becomes too thick for easy harvesting. This is
corrected by pruning out several of the leaders or branches.
The most unique features of the blueberry are its re-
quirement for acid (pH 4.5-5.2) soils, its shallow fibrous
root system, and its sensitivity to fertilizers. This necessi-
tates placing plants about an inch deeper in the field than
they stood in the nursery. Acid peat should be mixed with
the planting soil and mineral fertilizer should not be added
until the second season. During the second season, apply
about 2 ounces per plant of acid fertilizer (such as available
for camellias and azaleas). Because of the shallow root sys-
tem, cultivation must be very shallow and supplemental
water may be needed.
Blueberries thrive on all but very sandy soils if the
soils are acid and well drained.
Despite the very specific demands of the blueberry, the
plants are very long-lived. Blueberries are not often
damaged by spring frosts and produce rather consistently.
(For more information on blueberries refer to Fla. Coop.
Ext. Ser. Cir. 397)
There are several species of American type grapes na-
tive to the southeastern United States. These include the
important muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia) varieties and
several other species of slip-skinned grapes-so called be-
cause the entire ball of flesh slips from the skin when the
fruit is squeezed. These grapes have tough skins and flesh
and are seedy. The tender-fleshed, seedless European-type
grapes (V. vinifera) are not adapted to the southeastern
United States. Hybridizing programs have resulted in
American varieties much better than the native types.
The grape produces on long branches-called canes-of
previous season's growth. A great many of these canes must
be removed each year and the others cut back rather
severely. For commercial production, no fruit crop has
such a demanding pruning requirement; however, satisfac-
torily producing fruit for the home or local market requires
a much less exacting program.
Grape arbors, often used to landscape an area, require
that canes be thinned out and cut back only occasionally to
prevent too dense a growth.
Adapted varieties tolerate a wide range of soils. Cultural
practices, such as fertilizing, irrigating and controlling pests,
are not unusually demanding. (For more information on
grapes, refer to Fruit Crops Fact Sheets FC-16 and FC-17)
Planting the Orchard
As a hobbyist, select an orchard site near enough to
the home for convenience, but far enough away to allow
for the safe use of poisonous spray chemicals.
Since spring frost is a major hazard for many fruit and
nut crops, avoid low areas into which cold air drains when
choosing a site. Thick woods and undergrowth on the lower
side of an orchard may prevent air drainage and thereby
increase the frost hazard.
Fertile sandy loam soil underlaid with a reddish-yellow
to red subsoil which has moderate internal drainage is best
for most fruits. Deep sands which do not hold moisture,
are usable if properly irrigated and fertilized. Soils with
gray or mottled subsoils are too poorly drained.
Before planting an orchard, apply an ample supply of
fertilizer to the site and plow or disk it into the soil. Fer-
tilizer should not be placed directly in the hole at planting
time since this may create a high salt concentration in the
root zone and result in fertilizer burn on the young plants.
The planting hole should be dug large enough so that the
root system is neither crowded, bent nor broken. All extra
long or broken roots should be pruned off before planting.
Plants should be placed exactly upright and at the same
depth they stood in the nursery. Put in 1 or 2 shovels full
of top soil and pack it lightly around the roots. Repeat
this procedure until the hole is full of soil and the plant
is firmly in place.
It is normally desirable to add water when the hole is
about two-thirds filled with soil in order to settle the soil
around the roots. After the water has soaked into the soil,
finish filling the hole. Give particular attention to irrigation
during the first year. Adding mulch will conserve moisture,
but it will not substitute for watering during dry periods.
Fruit trees may be planted anytime during the dormant
season, but the period from late December through January
is best because it allows time for soil to settle and roots to
become established before spring growth. Trees planted late
in the spring are more likely to die during the dry periods
of the following year.
It is best to buy stocky, vigorous plants of average size
from a reliable nursery. Do not use stunted, spindly or old
trees. Cheap nursery stock is often low in quality and may
result in slow growing, poorly developed trees. Such trees
are often incorrectly labeled.
Order trees well in advance of planting date. Plants
should be set without delay when they arrive from the nur-
sery. Do not allow the roots to dry out. If it becomes im-
possible to set plants on arrival, they may be kept by "heel-
ing in" in a shady spot. This is accomplished by digging a
hole in which several plants can be placed and the roots
covered with soil. For easier handling, plants are usually
slanted in the hole.
The spacing of plants in a home orchard can vary
considerably due to location and equipment to be used in
cultivation. Suggested spacings are given in Table 1.
Table 1. Suggested spacing of fruit trees.
Crop .Spacing in feet
Blueberries 6 x 12
Chinese Chestnuts 20 x 20
Figs 10 x 12
Peaches and Nectarines
20 x 10
10 x 10
15 x 15
20 x 20
20 x 20
20 x 20
60 x 60
5 x 12
20 x 20
Anna. A medium size fruit that ripens in late June and
early July. It has a shape similar to 'Red Delicious', but
with approximately 30-40% red blush. Flavor is good and is
sweet to semi-acid.
Dorsett Golden. A medium size fruit that ripens in late
June. Has 30-40% red'blush. It is recommended that 'Anna'
and 'Dorsett Golden' be planted together for cross-pollina-
Ein Shemer. A medium size fruit that also ripens in late
June and early July. Ripe fruit are yellow and the flavor is
Ilachiya lianafuyu I layakunme
Saijo Tamolpan Tanenashi
aI)le 2. Variety Characteristics of Peaches and Nectarines.
June Gold peach
Rio Grande peach
Peaches should be on Okinawa or Nemaguard rootstock.
Table 3. Variety Characteristics of Plums. -
Period of Fruit Peel Requires
Variety Ripening Size Color Pollinator
Early Bruce Early Medium Red Yes
Methley Early Small Dark Red No
Excelsior Mid Small Red No
Ozark Premier Mid V. Large Red Yes
Kelsey Late Large Greenish Yellow Yes
Mariposa Late V. Large Greenish Red Yes
Table 4. Variety Characteristics of Pears.--
Fruit Peel Flesh Soften in
Variety Size Color Texture Storage
Pineapple Med Yellowish Green Coarse No
Baldwin Med Yellowish Green Fine Yes
Tenn Large Red Blush Semi-Fine Yes
Ayres Large Red Blush Semi-Fine Yes
I lood Large Yellowish Green Fine Yes
Orient V. Large Yellowish Green Coarse No
Carnes Med Green Semi-Coarse Yes
Brown Turkey. A medium size small fruit that ripens
alout mid-July and bears over an extended period if grow-
ing conditions are good. Tree bears a small crop the season
following severe freeze damage.
Celeste. A small, light brown to violet fruit that ripens
about mid-July. It does not sour as badly as 'Brown Turkey'
because of a tight "eye" but does not fruit until the second
season following severe freeze damage.
Other varieties. Green Ischia, Alma and Magnolia.
Table 5. Variety Characteristics of Pecans1
Variety Nuts Per lb. Quality Cracking
Desirable 40-45 Excellent 3
Elliott 65-70 Excellent 4
Stuart 45-50 Good 5
Curtis 65-70 Good 1
Moreland 45-50 Excellent 1
1All varieties listed are relatively resistant to scab. Do not
plant varieties that scab severely.
1-5 = easiest to hardest to crack.
Blueberries and Grapes
All blueberry varieties currently recommended are of
the rabbiteye type. They include 'Tifblue', 'Woodard',
'Bluegem', 'Briteblue', 'Southland', 'Delite', 'Climax' and
'Bluebelle'. All of these have good quality, blue color,
firmness, vigor and berry size. They are self-unfruitful, thus
at least 2 varieties must be planted together for pollination.
When self-unfruitful varieties are being planted, it is
necessary to include at least 1 self-fruitful variety for
Table 6. Variety Characteristics of Grapes
Type Variety Color Self-fruitful
Bunch Lake Emerald Light Yes
Blue Lake Dark Yes
Stover Light Yes
Liberty Dark Yes
Muscadine Southland Dark Yes
Cowart Dark Yes
Magoon Dark Yes
Higgins Light No
Fry Light No
Jumbo Dark No
Carlos Light Yes
Welder Light Yes
Chief Dark Yes
Noble Dark Yes
Dixie Dark Yes
Nanking, Kuling and Meiling are the most suitable
varieties. They are fast growing and early bearing (3 to 6
Blackberry varieties include 'Flordagrand', 'Oklawaha'
and 'Brazos' that can be grown for home use. These berries
are of excellent quality and mature in late April and early
May. 'Flordagrand' and 'Oklawaha' are self-unfruitful.
Alternate rows or alternate plants of each should be used
Precise fertilizer requirements of tree fruits are not
known and may vary appreciably depending upon the
soil-even within the same orchard. Any number of ferti-
lizer programs will result in good production, but some will
be wasteful. The grower should observe the response of his
plants to each fertilizer application and lower or raise
future applications accordingly.
Soil tests on which fertilizer recommendations for row
crops are made can be used for tree crops, but it must be
understood that responses to fertilizer are slower for tree
crops than annual crops.
In small orchards, application of fertilizer by hand is
satisfactory. The fertilizer should be spread evenly around
the tree covering all the area under the branches.
Adequate preplanting preparation and fertilization is
necessary in the production of fruits and nuts. Soil testing
of the area to be planted may be useful in determining the
need for phosphorous and lime. On virgin land or an area
where very little fertilizer has been used, 1,000 pounds of
superphosphate per acre should be disked into the top 6
inches of soil-particularly in western Florida where soils
are inherently low in phosphorus. Except for blueberries
which grow best in acid soils, two tons of dolomitic lime-
stone per acre will benefit young plants. Zinc deficiencies
have occurred in many orchard crops of western Florida
and it is suggested that zinc be applied to the orchard at the
rate of 10 pounds of zinc oxide equivalent per acre about
every 5 years. This may be done at any time.
Peaches, Plums, Pears, Persimmons, Apples and Figs
Apply about 1 pound of 10-10-10 per tree during May
of the first season after planting. Each February in succeed-
ing years, apply about 1.5 pounds of 10-10-10 for each year
of age of the tree until a maximum of 10-15 pounds per
tree is reached. Excessive nitrogen fertilizer results in
vigorous growth that requires excessive pruning and drasti-
cally reduces the number of fruit buds formed. Also, overly
vigorous pear trees are often attacked by fire blight, a
i'ecans a/ 'hinese (,'bestnutl
Apply 1 pound of 10-10-10 per tree the first season.
This application should be made in May. After the first
season, apply 10-10-10 fertilizer each February at the rate
of 2 pounds for each year of age of pecan trees with the
maximum of 50 pounds per tree. Chestnuts require about 1
pound for each year of age with maximum of 15 pounds
Blueberries, Blackberries and Grapes
(bunch and muscadine)
Blueberries are very sensitive to nitrogen and can be
easily killed--particularly when they are young. Exercise
extreme caution when fertilizing young plants. An annual
application of 2 ounces of acid fertilizer (such as for camel-
lias and azaleas) per plant in February is ample fertilizer on
Mature blackberry vines should receive 3 applications
of 1/3 pounds of a complete fertilizer (i.e., 10-10-10) with
the first application in late February, the second shortly
after harvest and the third in late August.
Grapes (bunch and muscadine) should be fertilized at
the rate of 1.5 pounds of 10-10-10 for each year of age
with a maximum of 5 pounds per plant.
Cultivation and Mulching
Cultivation for weed control is necessary but should be
shallow and as infrequent as possible. Completely avoid
deep plowing. The most common method of cultivation is
disking, but chopping and mowing also are used.
An area around young plants at least 3 feet in diameter
should be kept continuously free of weeds to prevent heavy
competition with the shallow roots. Older trees can be cul-
tivated less frequently.
On deep sandy soils infested with nematodes, a heavy
mulch will be required if figs are to be grown satisfactori-
ly. The orchard floor of peaches and other fruits that are
often damaged by frost during bloom should be kept clean
and hard. leavy weed growth, cover crops and mulches add
to the frost hazard by insulating the soil from the sun
during the day and decreasing the radiation of heat from
the soil at night.
Mulching young plants may control weeds and con-
serve moisture. Many materials are available for use in
small plantings or around single trees. Materials such as oak
leaves, pine needles and hay are suitable. Sawdust is satis-
factory but should not be incorporated into the soil since
nitrogen regulation may become difficult. Under warm,
moist conditions, the nitrogen supply becomes tied up by
bacteria decomposing the sawdust. While this can be over-
come by applying extra nitrogen, the addition often results
in release of excessive nitrogen later, resulting in undesirable
vigorous growth. Young trees, kept in a state of vigorous
growth, are more susceptible to cold injury, and will bear
late. Also, termites may become a problem if sawdust is
Training and Pruning
Pruning simply means the removal of wood, whereas
training refers to pruning plants to a specified shape and is
a very important practice during the early life of the plant.
Pears are generally trained to a modified central leader for a
strong framework of branches, peach trees to an open cen-
ter for a wide-spreading tree and grapevines for a systematic
distribution of growth on a trellis. Pruning trees each year
is necessary in order to maintain their shape and help regu-
late the size and quality of the crop. If trees are grafted,
sprouts from the seedling rootstock should be removed
Pruning at Planting Time
Since some of the root system is destroyed in trans-
planting, the top should also be reduced in size. This is
done to help correct the balance between above and below
ground parts so that the plant will survive the planting
operation and grow well.
Apple and pear trees, when purchased, are normally
unbranched plants (whips) about 4 feet high. These should
be cut back to about 3 feet. After the first year retain only
the dominant central branch and 3 or 4 branches spirally
arranged around the trunk. The lowest branch should not
be lower than about 2 1/2 feet above the ground.
When planting peach trees, cut the tree back about
knee high leaving several spirally arranged branches on the
trunk. Reduce the length of these side branches to several
buds. Remove all lower laterals flush with the trunk and all
suckers from the rootstock. The objective should be to
develop 3 or 4 primary framework branches and an open
center. Plum trees should be pruned much the same as
peach trees, but they may have more usable branches and
these may be pruned more lightly than the peach.
Remove the upper 1/3 of a pecan or persimmon tree
The young fig plant should be headed back to about
half its height. Nursery grape plants are cut back to 2 buds
on the most vigorous cane, and all other canes are eliminated.
Blueberries should not be permitted to fruit the first
season. Prune or remove the fruiting buds at the end of the
shoots when planting.
Pruning in Early or Prebearing Years
In young apple and pear trees, the central branch
(leader) should be cut back sufficiently to keep it dominant
over the lateral branches each year for the first 3 or so years.
This will cause the leader to develop off-center and not
straight like a true central leader.
During the first dormant season after planting the
peach, cut back each of the 3 selected basic framework
branches about 2/3 of their length. The objective is to re-
tain 2 strong laterals which occur at or near the point of the
cut and, in this way, to further increase the basic frame-
work from 3 to 6 branches. The next year, about 2 feet
farther out, again select 2 laterals from each of the 6 re-
tained the previous year and thus retain 12 branches ori-
ginating from 1-, 2- and 3-year-old wood to complete the
framework. (See also Pruning in Later Years)
Plum trees tend to develop an open center naturally
without the precise procedure outlined for peach trees.
Remove any pecan branches closer than 4 feet above
ground and any persimmon branches -closer than 2 feet
above ground. If 2 limbs form a narrow crotch likely to
split later, remove 1 of them.
In the first growing season after planting the fig, select
and retain 3-8 strong, upright sprouts at least 3-4 inches
apart at the base. Thin out dense growth and eliminate dead
wood. Do not leave stubs.
With the grape, extend the strongest cane to its ulti-
mate height. Support this cane with a stake until it can be
tied to the highest wire.
Pruning in Later Years
With both young and mature deciduous trees in general,
remove branches that interfere with the basic framework,
rub against one another or diverge at a sharp angle (narrow
crotch). Remove the weaker of 2 closely parallel branches,
or the 1 less desirably located.
Mature apple and pear trees should not be pruned
severely every year. Moderate annual pruning of a cor-
rective nature is preferable to heavy pruning every 3 or 4
years. Heavy pruning upsets the balance of the tree, i.e.,
causes abnormal growth of shoots (water-sprouts), and it
may promote fire blight.
Prune peach and plum trees every year. Remove any
badly placed branches, e.g., crossing branches and those
that are growing into the center. Then cut to outward-
growing branches to check upward development. Do a fair
amount of thinning out of crowded parts. During the
growing season, rub off all watersprouts from the main
branches within 2 feet from the trunk and all suckers from
the rootstock. Most of the pruning should be done in
February, but topping of vigorous shoots may be done in
June or July.
Mature pecan and persimmon trees require little prun-
ing. It may be necessary to lift low branches to permit
cultivation and to remove damaged branches.
Pruning of the fig depends on the variety and condi-
tion of the plants. In the South most figs are grown as
bushes. Generally, it is only necessary to head back the
branches to keep the plant within bounds, thin out wcak
growth and remove dead wood.
Proper pruning of bunch grapes provides an adequate
amount of 1-year-old wood each year, and prevents accu-
mulation of unproductive wood. Vary the amount of
cane pruning according to the vigor of the vine and its
capacity to bear. The more buds left on a vine, the higher
will be the yield in that year. The size of bunch, however,
quality of fruit and vigor of vine will definitely decrease
after the optimum number of buds has been reached. In
the single-trunk 4-cane Kniffin system of training, string a
top wire (No. 9) 4 1/2-5 feet high and a lower wire 18
inches lower along the row. Retain and tic only 4 canes per
vine, one to the right and I to the left of the trunk on
each wire. Remove all other canes, except for a few which
should be cut back to spurs containing 2-3 buds on the
trunk as renewal canes for the next year.
Annual pruning of muscadine grapes involves cutting
back all shoots, leaving 1-3 buds on fairly long, permanent
arms which have been established to the right and left of
the trunk on a 2-wire trellis.
Grapevines often "bleed" from pruning cuts. This
harmless loss of sap (mostly water) usually stops complete-
ly when leaves appear.
The basic job of pruning blueberries is to promote the
growth of strong new wood, for plant size control and to
maintain good fruit production. If too little pruning is
done, the plants are crowded with weak, twiggy growth and
fail to develop strong new wood for future production.
Severe pruning produces fewer but larger berries and more
new wood. Experience is the best guide on how hard to
prune. The best time to prune is during the winter. Ilow-
ever, blueberries can be pruned any time from the end of
harvest to the start of new growth in the spring.
Pruning established mature plants consists of cutting
out or cutting back old canes that have little strong new
wood and eliminating the twiggy growth in the top and
outer areas of the bushes.
Trailing-type blackberries are trained on a wire trellis.
Distribute canes on the trellis by tying and by lifting and
drooping canes over the wires. Remove all old canes soon
after harvest season. The semi-erect type does not require
trellising but all old canes are removed after harvest. Shorten
branches sufficiently to prevent excessive drooping and
thus avoid production of a high proportion of the crop near
Fruit Maturity and Harvesting
Most tree, bush and vine fruits are soft and require
careful handling and harvesting. The fruits ripen over a
period of time, which require periodic harvesting to obtain
full quality, avoid fruit drop, prevent the build-up of insects
and diseases and reduce bird damage.
I'earccs. Peaches are harvested commercially when al-
most fully mature. Unlike plums and pears, they do not
ripen well in storage. Fruit color is not a good criterion of
maturity since some varieties are highly colored well be-
fore they are mature. For home use much better quality is
obtained if a grower waits until the fruit begins to soften
slightly before harvest.
Plums. Most varieties of plums can be picked well
before full maturity and still ripen with full color and
quality. In varieties such as 'Kelsey' and 'Bruce', the fruit is
harvested when the ground color turns from green to
yellow-green. Plums picked in this fashion may be kept
under refrigeration for several weeks where they ripen
slowly. Plums may also be harvested when fully ripe.
Pears. The "hard" pears grown in the South are har-
vested when they reach full size and ground color begins
to lighten. If wrapped in paper and stored at room tem-
perature, the fruit ripens more quickly and evenly. When
left on the tree to full maturity, pears break down internal-
ly and are of poor quality.
Persimmons. The Oriental or Japanese persimmon
turns from a yellowish-orange to an orange color with a
reddish tinge when fully mature. The fruit should be picked
when fully mature and allowed to ripen in storage. 'Fuyu-
gaki' may be used in salads while still firm because it is
non-astringent, but 'Tanenashi' and most other varieties are
astringent until soft.
Figs. For fresh use, pick figs as soon as they ripen; for
perserving, pick before they have fully ripened. This re-
duces loss from fruit splitting and souring and fruit holds
together better when cooked. Leave stem attached to the
Pe1''ans. Pecans are harvested when mature between
October and January. Nuts are mature when the shuck
splits. Pecans may be threshed with cane poles rather than
letting the nuts fall naturally. Threshing as soon as most of
the shucks have split reduces loss from squirrels and crows.
Freshly harvested nuts should be placed in dry storage for
several weeks before eating. Shelled nuts may be stored in
polyethylene bags either in the refrigerator or freezer.
Chestnuts. Chestnuts are fully mature when the bur
splits. It is necessary to gather the nuts frequently and
refrigerate immediately to maintain quality. They are
subject to decay and also will dry out in common storage.
Blueberries. The harvest period generally occurs during
June. The fruit of most varieties turn blue about 5 to 7
days before the fruit is of best edible quality.
Blackberries. Harvest extends from mid-March to early
May, depending on variety and year. Blackberries are dark
when ripe. Berries that are reddish in color should be left
for later picking unless they are to be used for jelly, in
which case a portion of slightly immature fruit is desirable.
Grapes. Mature muscadine grapes are bronze or black
depending on the variety and are harvested in September
and October. Bunch grapes are normally green or blue
when ripe depending on the variety and are harvested in
July and August, Harvested fruit lose moisture, aroma and
general quality rapidly, thus should be refrigerated and used
as soon as possible.
Apples. Apples ripen satisfactorily on the tree. They
should be picked when they have reached optimum size and
color. Immature fruit will also ripen with satisfactory
quality in a refrigerator. 'Ein Shemer' fruit tends to become
mealy if overripe. It does not store more than 2 weeks even
under refrigeration. Fruit of 'Anna' have been held under
refrigeration satisfactorily for 6-8 weeks.
J. E. Brogdon and R. S. Mullin1
Some fruits and nuts in North Florida are relatively
free of insect and disease problems, while others will need
occasional treatments. Still others will require a spray
schedule. When one considers the number of applications
needed and the cost of equipment necessary to obtain ade-
quate coverage, it is questionable whether a pest control
lEntomologist and Plant Pathologist, respectively, University of
Ilorida, Gainesville, FL.
program is practical on many dooryard plantings.
Pears. Leaf spots, fire blight and scales may require
control measures. When leaf spots appear, spray with an
approved copper fungicide 4-6 times at 10-day intervals.
(See Table 8. Spray Dilution Chart for amounts.) For
fire blight, spray at full bloom with streptomycin (30 days
required between last application and harvest) at 100 parts
per million. If scales become a problem, apply a 3% oil
spray about January 15 to 20. To make a 3% oil spray, mix
Table 7. Sueested spray schedule for dooryard peaches, nectarines and plums (See Table 8 for smaller amounts.)
Name and Time
(Dec. 1-Jan. 15)
Petal Fall Spray
(After all petals are
off and before peach is
First Cover Spray
(10-14 days after
Petal Fall Spray)
Second Cover Spray
(7-10 days after
Third Cover Spray
(About 2 weeks after
(One week before
May 1, Jul 1, Aug. 1,
Material per 100
Gallons of water
Ethion (46%), 1 pt plus
Oil Concentrate (90%) 2 gals.
Wettable Sulfur (80%)-6 lbs.
or Benomyl (50%)-1/2 lb.
plus Malathion (25%)-4 lbs.
plus either Sevin3 (50%)-2
lbs or Methoxychlor (50%)-3 lbs.
Same as Petal Fall Spray
Same as Petal Fall Spray
Same as Petal Fall Spray
Sulfur or Benomyl at rates
above, or Captan (50%)-2 Ibs.
Thiodan (50%)-1 1/2 lb.
If scales are a problem make 2 applications 2 weeks apart.
Thorough coverage is important, especially on underside of
Spray thoroughly including trunk and larger limbs. Use Beno-
myl if blossom blight has been a problem in previous years.
Limitations; Malathion (peaches-7 days; plums-3 days), Sevin
(peaches and plums-1 day), Methoxychlor (peaches-21 days;
plums-7 days). No waiting period for Sulfur or Benomyl.
See remarks above. Especially important for curculio and scab.
See remarks above. Especially important for curculio and scab.
See remarks above.
If stink bugs are a problem add Sevin. One day waiting period
Thoroughly wet scaffold limbs, trunk and soil at base of tree
Do not apply Thiodan within 30 days of harvest.
llf white peach scale is a problem on peaches in summer, apply a spray containing 2 teaspoons of diazinon 4E (46%) or 4 teaspoons of diazinon
2E (25%) per gallon of water about June 15, but not before fruit is harvested. Make a second application about Aug. 15. Thorough coverage of
the trunk and all other parts of the tree, especially underside of branches, is important.
21f brown rot has been a problem, apply wettable sulfur when 10% of blossom are open as well as 2 and 4 weeks before harvest of each variety.
3The regular use of Sevin in a spray program may cause spider mites to become a problem. If this occurs apply Kelthane according to direction
on the container label.
4Borers can be removed from trees in October to December by hand. Look for gum formation at the soil line. Scrape it and remove or crush
Table 8. Spray Dilution Chart
Benomyl (50%) WP
Captan (50%) WP
Copper (48-53%) WP
Ethion (46%) EC
Ferbam (76%) WP
Malathion (25%) WP
Malathion (57%) EC
Methoxychlor (50%) WP
Oil Concentrate (90%)
Sevin (50%) WP
Thiodan (50%) WP
Zineb (75%) WP
Note: WP = Wettable Powder, EC = Emulsifiable Concentrate, Ibs. = pounds, qt. = quart, pt. = pint, TBS = Tablespoonful, tsp = Teaspoonful.
Precautions. Treat all pesticides as poisons and handle according to the cautions on the label. Store them in original, labeled
containers away from food or feed and out of reach of children and pets. Dispose of empty containers promptly and safely.
1 1/2 lbs.
1 1/2 T1S.
1 1/2 lbs.
1 1/2 lbs.
2 1/2 TBS.
1 1/2 TBS
---- ~---`---- -------
3 1/3 gallons of 90% oil concentrate per 100 gallons of
water or 1/2 cup in 1 gallon.
'Persinmons. Scales occasionally require control. If
scales become a problem, apply a 3% oil spray about Jan-
uary 15 to 20. To make a 3% oil spray, mix 3 1/3 gallons of
90% oil concentrate per 100 gallons of water or 1/2 cup in
Figs. Insect control generally is not needed. The root-
knot nematode can become a major pest. Heavy mulching
with leaves, straw or other materials will help minimize
damage by the nematode. Where roots have become heavily
infested and knotted, 1 or more treatments of DBCP
(Nemagon, Fumazone, Nemakil) should be applied im-
mediately after harvest has been completed. In some or-
chards, fig rust becomes a pest. It is a fungus disease that
attacks young fig leaves but does not injure mature leaf
tissue. Leaves affected by fig rust fall prematurely; the
affected trees are more susceptible to cold injury than are
Fig rust may be recognized by the small, yellowish-
green spots that appear on the leaves. These spots enlarge,
turn yellowish-brown, and often cause the leaves to become
Limb blight sometimes becomes a problem. It can be
recognized by the pink fungus growth on the limbs. For
control, prune off the diseased limbs, burn and apply cop-
* per fungicide to the plants.
Blackberries. Disease and insect control generally are
not needed in dooryard plantings in North Florida. If
problems are encountered, contact your County Extension
Director for the latest recommendations.
Blueberries. Disease and insect control generally are
not needed in dooryard plantings.
Grapes. Black rot, aphids, leafhoppers, flea beetles and
caterpillars, including the grape leaf folder and grape leaf
skeletonizer, may attack bunch-type grapes, but are less
important on muscadine grapes.
Where black rot has been a problem in the past, appli-
cations of fcrbam, copper sulfate or zineb (see Table 8.
Spray Dilution Chart) will assist in control of the disease.
Begin application when shoots are 2-5 inches long and re-
peat every 2-3 weeks as needed until harvest.
Apply malathion for aphids; malathion or Sevin (car-
baryl) for other insects. (see Table 8. Spray Dilution Chart
Do not apply malathion within 3 days or methoxy-
chlor within 14 days or ferbam within 7 days or zineb with-
in 7 days of harvest. There is no waiting period for copper
or Sevin (carbaryl).
Pecans. Effective control of diseases and insects of
pecans requires about 6 pesticide applications properly
timed. This generally is not practical for a few dooryard
trees or a small home orchard unles a custom spray com-
pany is employed.
Apples. Preventive control of these pests is required to
maintain healthy trees and good fruit quality:
Apple scab is a fungus that affects leaves, flowers and
fruit. Lesions develop on both leaf surfaces causing leaf
distortion. Scabby, dark spots are clearly seen on infested
fruit. As the fruit matures in regions having warm climate,
the spot commonly appears as russeted scars. Previous in-
fection of immature fruit results in cracking and distortion
of the area associated with the scab lesions. Efficient con-
trol of apple scab may be achieved by fungicide applica-
tions. It is usually controlled in commercial apple regions
with Captan or any other suitable fungicide applied at 1-2
week intervals from bloom.
Fireblight, a bacterial disease which spreads from tree
to tree primarily during the spring, can generally be con-
trolled by reducing nitrogen fertilizer which results in
overvigorous growth. When infection is present, the in-
fected area should be pruned out, cutting at least 8-10"
below the lowest visible infection. The pruned-off limbs
should then be burned.
Scale insects may infest leaves, twigs, branches or
fruit. Apply a 3% oil spray (mix 3 1/3 gallons of 90% oil
concentrate to 100 gallons of water or 1/2 cup in 1 gallon)
during the dormant period (around mid-January).
Bitter rot is a fungus that infects only the fruit. It
starts as a small, circular light brown area. Spots enlarge
rapidly and become darkened. A distinctive characteristic is
a saucer-shaped depression with fruiting structures in the
center and concentric rings to the periphery. This rot can
be controlled with Captan or any other suitable fungicide at
7 day intervals from first notice of the infection until
spread of the disease is halted.
THE USE OF TRADE NAMES, BRANDS NAMES OR VARIETY NAMES IN THIS PUBLICATION IS SOLELY
FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING SPECIFIC INFORMATION. IT IS NOT A GUARANTEE OR WARRANTY OF THE
PRODUCTS NAMED AND DOES NOT SIGNIFY THEY ARE APPROVED TO THE EXCLUSION OF OTHERS OF