With February we head towards the end of winter: the days are beginning to get longer and the temperatures, especially during the day, are no longer so extreme. But don’t be too optimistic: it’s precisely in this period that the most abundant snowfalls often occur. Moreover, trees can be induced to vegetate by heat and early pruning and then be damaged by sudden frosts. We must therefore act with caution, evaluating our microclimate and paying particular attention to the weather forecast.
Pruning and grafting
Before we start, we need to carefully assess our climate. Usually, in the southern and coastal regions, these operations can be undertaken already in the first decade; in colder areas it is advisable to wait for the second or the third or postpone to the beginning of April (especially on the heights). Wherever it is essential to choose warm and dry days, a few days after the last rain.
We can work on most of the essences, in particular on those that will bear fruit between spring and autumn: pome fruit, stone fruit and small fruits. Let’s remember to carefully eliminate all the parts compromised by pathogens (burning them, if possible).
It is also a good time for grafting, especially triangle and split grafting, and we check the interventions carried out in the previous summer and autumn.
The ideal period for new additions is from mid-autumn to early spring, with the exception of months of intense cold. In mild areas we can resume this activity from the first decade, elsewhere it is good to wait at least for the third. For large plants we recommend ploughing the entire area, incorporating a good amount of seasoned manure: we will improve the texture of the soil and biological activity.
We also consider, especially for stone fruit, that there is good drainage: a compact soil is often the cause of root and collar pathogens. In that case, we also include sand, to lighten and aerate.
In the case of individual plants, let’s limit ourselves to digging holes, at least 50 cm wide and deep, and “break in” the walls in depth, with the help of a pitchfork. Then let’s remember to keep the collar at ground level.
Pests and diseases
It is the ideal period to carry out preventive treatments. Thanks to the absence of leaves we can carefully evaluate the state of the bark and branches, eliminating parts that are compromised and rotten fruits of previous years. Moreover, the temperatures are no longer so cold (we expect to exceed 8°C during the day) and it is possible to proceed with different plant protection products.
Almost all fruit trees (even more so those that have just been pruned) benefit from a treatment with copper, but avoid rain before or after. It is also very useful to use a white oil pass activated by an insecticide for the wintering stages (at least 20 days after copper).
These interventions will allow us to significantly reduce the impact of the most frequent pathogens.
The orchard in February: Harvesting and fertilization
The fruits that reach maturity in February are still few: only in the southern regions we proceed with the collection of citrus fruits, especially mandarins, oranges and lemons.
It is time to feed the fruit trees instead, to ensure good development and abundant production. If in autumn we have favoured organic fertilization, ideal for improving the soil physically and biologically, now is the time to distribute a good synthetic product rich in macro and micronutrients. There are good slow release products on the market: following the instructions for each individual fruit tree we will have a constant and gradual nutrition, guaranteed for at least 3 months.
Alternatively, we can consider specific products. We would also like to remind you of any additions that may be necessary in the event of shortcomings in previous years.
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