Irrigation needed in my climate?

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buttonwillow
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:12 pm
Location: Fairplay, California

Irrigation needed in my climate?

Post by buttonwillow » Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:42 pm

My potential backyard orchard may be created in Julian, California, known as an apple growing region. It is in USDA climate zone 14, Sunset zone 3. It's at 4235' elevation, gets an average annual rainfall of 35". April through October the amount of rain drops sharply to these averages:
April 2.5"
May 1.3
June 0.27
July 0.43
Aug 0.93
Sept 1.0
Oct 1.6

Will I need to irrigate during any of these months? If yes, will using deep mulch at these times reduce water need significantly?

--Buttonwillow

appledude
Posts: 429
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2008 12:24 pm

Re: Irrigation needed in my climate?

Post by appledude » Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:30 pm

Hi Button Willow,

Your total rainfall looks real good. Deep mulch will prevent excessive evaporation, so yes, it makes a watering last longer till the next one is needed. Especially on young trees whose roots do not yet go down 10 feet.

The other consideration is type of rootstocks you plan on using. M27 and P.22 superdwarfing types never do make huge deep roots, so might cost you more watering over the long haul than say Antonovka or M-111 stocks, which might need a little water for the first 2 years, but soon can take care of their needs all by themselves. They are also considered full size trees and will get pretty big. The M27 and P.22 only get 5 feet tall, just right for deer! That is another consideration.

Thanks for stopping by!

buttonwillow
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:12 pm
Location: Fairplay, California

Re: Irrigation needed in my climate?

Post by buttonwillow » Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:52 am

Appledude--this is good to know. As I have no spouse, the expense of water could be significant to a person in their retirement and dependence on social security as the bulk of income, not to mention the WORK! In drouth years, water can be a big problem in So. Cal., not only the expense but also availability from the piped source. And regarding deer, my research on the location of Julian has but started and I don't know how the many orchards there deal with those pesky critters but I'm glad you mentioned it. I'd forgotten.

It seems to me, when I have visited another apple region in So Cal, called Oak Glen, above Yucaipa, that the trees are generally full size but they have been pruned so that the tops are not so very high, although they do spread widely. Do you, Appledude, have experience with severe pruning for height? Although the idea of semi-dwarf root stock seems a better one for a small grower like me, in terms of general manageability, the deer problem in mountain areas can be quite serious (I lived for several years in Idyllwild, CA, and deer in gardens was a favorite subject of the residents). And now that I ponder the matter, it seems to me that growers of fruit of other sorts also have a habit of shearing off the tops of trees in their orchards. I think I've seen this in citrus and apricot. So the advantage of full size root stock has two ticks on it side, deep roots and less deer damage....what are the disadvantages/

appledude
Posts: 429
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2008 12:24 pm

Re: Irrigation needed in my climate?

Post by appledude » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:33 am

Appledude--this is good to know. As I have no spouse, the expense of water could be significant to a person in their retirement and dependence on social security as the bulk of income, not to mention the WORK! In drouth years, water can be a big problem in So. Cal., not only the expense but also availability from the piped source.

You could consider a more drought hardy plant, or moving to somewhere that has more available water, like northern Cal?

And regarding deer, my research on the location of Julian has but started and I don't know how the many orchards there deal with those pesky critters but I'm glad you mentioned it. I'd forgotten.

I use cylinders of the 4 x 2 glavanized welded-wire fencing 60 inches tall around new trees, with a stake. Deer leave all such trees completely alone.

It seems to me, when I have visited another apple region in So Cal, called Oak Glen, above Yucaipa, that the trees are generally full size but they have been pruned so that the tops are not so very high, although they do spread widely. Do you, Appledude, have experience with severe pruning for height?

Not really, although others have done it and I have studied their work by looking at the architecture of said tree. Mostly what they do is prune off everything that crosses another branch, goes inward toward the center of the tree, or up. That leaves everything that goes out and down, thus keeping the canopy within 6 foot ladder distance.

It turns out that my soil is not all that rich or deep, so standard size rootstocks only get around 12 feet tall for me after 30 years. But that might be unique to me only. If I had richer, deeper soil, they would be towering monsters, I am sure!


Although the idea of semi-dwarf root stock seems a better one for a small grower like me, in terms of general manageability, the deer problem in mountain areas can be quite serious (I lived for several years in Idyllwild, CA, and deer in gardens was a favorite subject of the residents)

There is very good black plastic netting available that is 7 feet tall. Deer cannot see it in the early morning hours when they feed, so they run into it with their noses and get spooked. I have it all around my large garden and have never had deer since the netting. Prior to netting it, my garden was a popular feeding ground!

The garden netting I bought has about 1 inch squares, but I have seen 2 inch squares for a little more money, and it is also a heavier gauge of UV stabilized black plastic. Very handsome stuff, and you should expect to get at least 20 years of use from it if you installed it.

So you could conceivably surround your little orchard with netting, or do the welded wire fencing thing. Both work well, in my opinion.


And now that I ponder the matter, it seems to me that growers of fruit of other sorts also have a habit of shearing off the tops of trees in their orchards. I think I've seen this in citrus and apricot. So the advantage of full size root stock has two ticks on it side, deep roots and less deer damage....what are the disadvantages

If your soil is deep and rich, you might end up pruning a little more. Deeper roots could mean less water used, though, as compared to a lot of shallow rooted mini-stocks.

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