Preparing Fruit Trees for Extreme Wet Weather

How Can I Prepare my Deciduous Fruit Trees and Blueberries for Extreme Wet Weather?

On the 13th of September 2022, the Bureau of Meteorology announced that they were officially predicting a La Niña weather event to impact Australia, potentially until early 2023. This will result in above average spring and early summer rainfall in most parts of Australia, and particularly eastern Australia.

The majority of Australians live in the east, meaning many are preparing for a rainy finish to the year.

PlantNet® has compiled a list of methods you can use based on your situation, that will help you get your fruit trees and blueberries through these extreme rainfall events.

You have just received your fruit trees from PlantNet® and are yet to plant them in the ground

  • Choose where you plant wisely! Choose a raised area or a spot on the side of a hill for better drainage. Keep in mind that in an opposite situation, a drought, this may require more watering than trees planted in lower positions.
  • A better method could be to plant them into a large pot until next season. This allows you better control over your fruit tree’s soil moisture, as there is less surrounding soil that can stay moist, and you can move your tree into a location where they can get little to no rain.
  • Use preventative fungicides and ensure you monitor your trees for disease.
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You already have your fruit trees in pots or containers

  • Raise your containers off the ground so that they don’t sit in water. You can do this easily with bricks or invest in pot trolleys. Take advantage of the mobility pot trolleys give you and move them out of the rain if rain persists.
  • Use preventative fungicides and ensure you monitor your trees for disease.
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You have a mature fruit tree you’re worried about

  • Replanting is high-risk and probably not worth it. If your tree is in a high-risk spot there is little you can do to change its position. Mature trees have a better chance of survival than young, recently planted trees in a wet year.
  • If your tree gets flooded, remove any silt (using a hose or soft brush and clean water), and remove debris and plant matter from your tree’s surroundings. Apply a preventative root rot fungicide and consider using organic chemicals that break down plant matter to regenerate soil microbes faster.
  • Use preventative fungicides between periods of rain. Remember to ALWAYS follow the directions of use. Many fungicides are not safe for consumption so should not be sprayed on fruit.
  • Your tree’s fruit may drop, or they may be worse quality than ‘average’ seasons. Remove fruit fallen from trees or remove the fruit altogether.
  • Trees with dense foliage are more likely to suffer fungal or bacterial diseases that begin at their leaves. Improve airflow by pruning ahead of the rain, or in a considerable break of dry weather.

What about blueberries in wet weather?

  • Unfortunately, blueberries are susceptible to fungal leaf and root diseases with high rainfall. Use fungicides with copper hydroxide as a preventative cover spray.
  • We recommend all PlantNet blueberry varieties be planted in containers as this is the best way to manage them and minimize any root disease issues.
  • In periods of continuous rain, move potted blueberries into covered areas to protect them from excess rain. Ideally this area should also have good air flow so that moisture doesn’t sit around the leaves. Move them back into the sun at first chance.
  • Raise your blueberries so that their pots are off the ground – this increases drainage through the pot.
  • Regularly check the pH of the potting mix. Rain can change the pH through nutrient leaching.
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Key factors to remember

  • Continuous rain will eventually leach nutrients from your soil or potting mix. Ensure you take the opportunity to fertilise and/or improve your soil when the rainy period eases.
  • On a dry day, apply a foliar application of trace elements to your fruit tree. Only do this once every 4 months.
  • At the end of rainy periods there is quite often an influx of insect and vertebrate pests. Prepare for this by monitoring for pests, undertaking preventative spraying/cultural control, and talking with your neighbors about what they’re experiencing.

All in all, preparation for adverse weather is key. Whether this rain event impacts your fruit trees or not, it’s important to spend time in and enjoy your backyard. Spring and summer are exciting times for our fruit trees – we at PlantNet® encourage you to prepare for and welcome the rest of the year!