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Fruit tree planting

There are several items which need careful attention in setting the fruit tree. One of the very first is getting the fruit tree in the proper position. In many of the systems of laying out an orchard a stake is set to mark the location of the fruit tree. As the stake is removed to dig the hole, difliculty arises in getting the tree in the position occupied by the stake, as very frequently the root system of the tree is such that the hole cannot be dug symmetrically.

To obviate this difficulty, the planting board is employed. There are two forms of planting boards commonly used. The more common one is made from a piece of board about 6 feet long and 6 inches wide. A notch is cut on one side - at the center, and a hole bored at equal distance near either end. These holes are provided with wooden pins.

The notch of the planting board is placed over the stake locating the tree and the pins stuck in the ground through the holes at the ends. The board and stake may then be removed and the bole dug. Replacing the board over the pins shows the exact location of the tree. Another form of planting board is the equilateral triangle. Three laths or narrow pieces of lumber are fastened together so that they form a triangle.

Care should be taken to have the distance between each two adjoining corners equal as this, will relieve the necessity of replacing the triangle in the same position. One projecting end is put over the tree stake, and the pins placed in the others. This marks the location of the tree after digging the bole the same as with the former.

Size of the hole for planting fruit trees
The size of the hole for the tree depends upon three factors, extent of the root system, character of the soil, and height of heading. The size of the hole in relation to the extent of the root system varies from that made by the crow-bar, as used in the "Stringfellow" system of planting to two feet or mora square. Under normal conditions the size of the hole would be such as will conveniently admit the root system without crowding. In most cases this will be, about 15 to 18 inches square. As a usual thing the root system should not be reduced just to make it go into the hole even though this is the easier and quicker method.

Where the soil is heavy and compact and has not been put in proper condition of tilth prior to planting, the hole should be considerably larger. In this way the soil in the bottom of the hole may be loosened as well as that at the sides of the hole and the root system given a better chance to develop. With normal soil conditions the depth will be largely influenced by the height of the head, although there are other influencing factors. The general rule is to set the tree somewhat deeper than it was in the nursery.

Horticulturists differ as to the best depth for planting, but usually advise from 3 to 5 inches deeper than in the nursery. Root grafted trees, which are mostly used, should be set low enough so that the union of the stock and scion comes some distance below the surface.

Where one desires low-headed trees, and has been unable to secure them, the height of the head may be somewhat reduced by deep planting. If this is done, however, it should not be carried to extremes even if necessary to sacrifice something in height of head. It is probably not best to set trees much if any over 8 inches deeper than they were in the nursery. Roots placed too far below the surface are unable to perform their function as well as if nearer the top of the ground.