How to look after fruit trees in the month of November. Read our tips on the work to be performed on fruit trees in a garden or orchard in order to keep them in good health. From November, apple and pear trees can be pruned, but the task can be performed at any time up until March. Orchard hygiene is important to prevent the possibility of fungal infections. Ensure that the trees are protected against rabbits, muntjacs, deer and so forth. Read on to discover all our fruit growing tips for November.

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Fruit tree management in November

  1. Any dead wood in the trees needs to be removed and will have to be burned or shredded.
  2. To invigorate growth, apple and pear trees can now be pruned any time from now on until the end of March. Dense tree canopies need to be opened up now by taking out large branches. This will improve the air flow through the tree canopy and reduce the incidence of fungal diseases. If you cannot throw your hat through the tree canopy then there is too much wood in the tree. Any sizeable pruning cuts will have to be sealed with a sealing compound. Watch a video tutorial on how to prune an apple tree.
  3. It is now too late to prune apricots, peaches, nectarines, cherries and plums.
  4. If you noticed some dead wood in your trees during the season, check now for canker, or for waterlogged soil. Canker has to be cut out: waterlogged soil has to be improved by means of effective drainage.

How to control pests and diseases on fruit trees in November

  1. This is a good time to reduce the possibility of fungal diseases, such as peach leaf curl, canker, scab, mildew, quince blight, walnut blight, coral spot, silver leaf and brown rot of fruit, just to mention the more common troubles. Orchard hygiene is important in this regard. Remove all rotten fruit and scabby leaves as these diseases will overwinter and will affect next year’s crop. Use a good rake or a vacuum blower to ensure that you get rid of all fallen leaves affected by fungal diseases. Ideally, do this before mowing, which otherwise would pulverize the leaves. Don’t compost leaves and grass cuttings, because this would gives the fungal spores another chance to infect your plants and trees.
  2. How do you recognize fungal infections? Examples include black spots appearing on the leaves and on the fruit, or premature leaf drop, or fruitlets not having made size and stopped growing, or dropping onto the ground.
  3. If fungi have been a problem, spray the trees with winter wash.
  4. Winter wash can also be used to help protect cherry and plum trees from bacterial canker. Apply now, and then again after a couple of weeks, when leaf fall is complete.
  5. If you have had trouble with fireblight on pear trees, now is the time to cut out all infected branches, cutting well back into healthy tissue, until there is no sign of staining. Burn the wood and seal the wounds.
  6. If your peach trees have had serious trouble with Peach leaf curl, in addition to the measures stated above, it will be useful to protect the tree with a plastic cover from late January until the middle of May. This will stop the spores already present in the trees from germinating. It is the rain that causes the spores to become active during the winter months. Watch a video on how to deal with peach leaf curl.
  7. Even though the trees will be looking bare, it’s important to apply cotton threads to pear and plum trees as soon as the leaves have fallen. This is a good method of deterring pigeons and bullfinches who otherwise will eat the fruit buds, essential for next year’s crop. Ordinary cotton is fine, just wind it around the tree (slip the spool onto a rod or dowel to make things simpler) so that the threads are about six inches apart. What happens is that the bird flies towards the tree, doesn’t see the thread, touches it with its wing, gets a fright, and flies off. No damage to the bird is done, and it helps your tree!
  8. Now the leaves have fallen, canker infections are clear to see. To stop winter spores from developing, cut out all surrounding wood and the wound itself, until no brown markings can be seen in the healthy green surrounding bark and cambium layer. Then paint the treated area with a wood sealing compound such as Arbrex or “Heal and Seal.”
  9. Inspect your fruit tree area now for the appearance of the toadstools of the aggressive fungus Armillaria which can kill fruit trees. It is also called the honey fungus due to its warm brown colouring. If the toadstool has a collar it is most likely the honey fungus. There is no known cure. The only thing you can do is to remove the tree completely, including as many thick roots as possible. Do not plant a fruit tree in the same hole.

Garden orchard welfare in November

  1. Check the gutters of any building for blockages near your mini orchard. A leaking gutter that causes soil to become waterlogged is death to the fruit tree.
  2. Replace tree guards that are too tight or broken, replace broken stakes, renew broken tree ties.
  3. November is the ideal time to start preparing the planting positions for the new trees. At the same time, carry out a check to make sure the water does not become stagnant in the root range of the trees. Just dig a hole to a depth of about 8-10 inches (20-25 cm) and leave for 24 hours. If the hole does not fill up with water, you’re OK. Tree roots need lots of oxygen and if the roots of the trees stand in water during the winter months, then the roots will die.
  4. If you have ordered new trees, mark out the planting positions with tall bamboo canes.
  5. It is a good idea to keep a fruit diary, in which you can record the cropping and flowering record of the different trees. If trees did not crop well, they were probably short of water, food or light. Otherwise, the problem may be connected to cross-fertilization or pollination.

Read our fruit tree care tips for successive months:

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