The fruit tree nursery is a kind of maternity.
From my 12+ years of running a tree nursery, I can tell you there will be moments when you’re happy. When you look at young fruit seedlings, you get inspired by the thought of creating orchards that will drive the fruit industry.
And do you know what?
A fruit tree nursery is the only sure way to produce a supply of healthy fruit planting material.
Here are the 9 tips on how you can go about establishing a tree nursery.
Let’s get to it.
Why is Nursery Important?
If you have a fruit tree nursery, you will get the following benefits:
1. Seedlings get attention and grow with better care
2. Suitable environments for the germination of seeds
3. Fruit trees whenever you need
4. Growing fruits suitable for your local climate and soil
5. Generate income from local resources
6. Transplanted seedlings will be healthy and stronger
Be Careful When Doing Seed Extraction
Most fruit species are propagated through vegetative methods or by seeds. If you want to raise rootstock, the seed is the main source of bud or graft stocks.
The rootstock affects the vigor, fruit yield, quality, and longevity of your scion. So take care when selecting your seed source. Just ensure your rootstock:
- Is easy to propagate from your cuttings or seeds.
- Is compatible with your scion cultivar.
- Has a high-yielding impact on the scion.
- Has vigorous and well-anchored roots
- Is adaptable to soils and weather conditions
- Resistant to diseases and pests
Your seed should be extracted from ripened fruits from healthy, vigorous, and yielding trees.
Handling of Your Seeds after Pretreatment
After you extract your seeds, wash them with water and dry them in a fruit collection net.
You can also store the seeds in cool and dry places in air-tight containers for the duration shown below.
|Fruit||Duration in Years|
Treat Your Seeds Before Sowing (Pre-Sowing Treatment)
If your seeds have a strong seed coat, you require scarifying before you sow them. You can scarify by scratching, breaking, altering, or softening the seed coverings.
You can scarify your seeds by:
- Cracking of seeds with a hammer
- Giving hot water treatment
- Using concentrated hydrosulfate acid for 5-10 minutes
Keep in mind that before you sow seeds of temperate fruits they need rest. The rest is needed under chilling conditions for germination. The duration of seed scarification (at 1-5°C）in a moist sand medium varies among fruits.
the number of scarification days for apples is 50 -70, pears 40-50, peaches 60-70, and plums 60-70. Others such as apricot and persimmon require 50-60 and 90-100 days respectively.
You can further improve your seed germination by treating them in the following way:
- Grapes and peaches – 5000 ppm thiourea for 15-20 hrs
- Apple, peach, and cherry -100 to 500 ppm GA3 for 12 hrs
- Guava – 5000 ppm ethyl
- Apple – 10-20 ppm benzyl adenine
Prepare Your Seedbed & Container
After treatment, the next step is preparing your growing media. Your growing media must:
- Be firm to provide anchorage to seeds or cuttings
- Well decomposed
- Free from weeds and harmful diseases
- Cheap and available
- Have slightly acidic pH and
- Have a good water holding capacity to drain excess water.
You should prepare a bed of 2-3 m (L) x 60-100 cm (W) x 15-20 cm (H).
Ensure you sterilize your soil media.
Your media should be mixed with 2.5 kg of base fertilizer mixture of (1.8 kg CAN or Ammonium sulfate + 2.5 kg Super phosphate + 1.0 kg Muriate of potash) per cubic meter of root media.
The media with the base fertilizer can also be filled in containers, earthen pots, polyethylene bags, etc. for raising seedlings.
You can sow the seeds of deep-rooted fruits directly in the pit.
Sowing Your Seeds
You should sow your seeds as follows:
- Sub-tropical fruits – immediately after you extract them from the fruit
- Temperate fruits – after you scarify
The seeds should be sown at the proper distance and the depth of the seeding is kept 3 times the thickness of the seed. For instance sow apples, pears, peaches, and plums at a distance of 30 by 10 -15cm, and Citrus and guava at 10 by 2.
After sowing your seeds, be aware of the seeds take a period to germinate determined by fruit type as follows:
|Fruit||Germination period in days|
Tools and Materials
To establish your fruit nursery, you require various tools and materials. The material and tools include:
- Seeds – collect or source viable seeds of fruit trees, such as peach, plum, apricot, cherry, walnut, pear, etc.
- Digging tools – acquire rakes, hoes, or tractor
- Biomass: soil sand and compost
- Netting – Get yourself netting for regulating weeds eg weed mat ground cover and shade protection such as greenhouse shade cloth
- Fencing and construction materials
- Potting bags
- Tools – such as shovels, budding knives, and pruning shears
Taking Care of Your Fruit Seedlings
After sowing, you should cover the bed with:
- A layer of pulverized soil
- Farmyard manure and wood ash
If you find there is a need to irrigate your seedlings,
- Apply water with a small nozzle.
- The frequency of irrigation depends on the weather and soil conditions.
Ensure you protect your nursery bed from:
- Summer heat – use by aluminate, shade cloth, etc, etc. link
- Winter killings by, polyethylene tents, etc. links
Transplanting of Your Fruit Seedlings
After attaining the age of transplanting, your seedlings should be transplanted in leveled, irrigated, and drained beds.
You should plant your seedlings in
- 2 rows at 30 cm by 15 cm distance
- The distance between twin rows should be kept at 50-60 cm. This is to allow you to perform other nursery operations with ease.
You should also take proper care such as watering, weeding, nutrition, and other protection measures. For example, you should ensure wind protection, shade protection, and pest control.
Make Use of Root Trainers
The budded or grafted plant should have a strong uncoiled tap root system with enough lateral roots.
If your seedlings are in containers or undersized polybags and are kept for a longer time, the taproot is a coil. The plant shows poor performance after planting out. You should overcome these problems by using root trainers. The root trainers facilitate strong fibrous root systems in plants.
Successful fruit tree nursery establishment does not happen by chance. So get all the tips to enjoy all the benefits that come with it.
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