Fruit Trees in a Drought
Fruit trees need water to set fruit and nourish fruit. Water is at a premium right now because Sonoma County is in a drought (some refer to it as a mega drought).
There are things that can be done to help your fruit trees survive the drought.
- Mulch your trees but do not mulch close to the tree trunk. Water thoroughly before you mulch. The mulch will conserve the moisture in the soil.
- When you water, water deeply and at the most once a week or less. The roots will then go deep to find the water instead of finding it on the surface.
- Thin the fruit on your tree. Thinning the fruit saves 20-30% water and will help the remaining fruit develop. Moisture stress later in the season can limit fruit size but tends to enhance fruit flavor as the sugars in the fruit are concentrated.
- If there is going to be a major heat wave, attempt to shade your trees using patio umbrellas and/or shade cloth during the hottest part of the day.
Drought tolerance of common fruit trees:
- Almonds, figs and olives are the most drought tolerant.
- Apples, cherries, apricots, pears and plums are somewhat drought tolerant.
- Nectarines, peaches and citrus need adequate water to survive.
- A short video on Thinning Apple Trees
- Dealing with Drought for Vegetables, Fruit Trees, and Berries (UCCE Sonoma County)