Compost Application

  • March 15, 2024 at 1:30 pm #1877
    Kyle Barrett

    I am wondering about best practice for applying compost and compost structure.

    What’s the right compost formula for fruit trees? Is manure (chicken/cow) appropriate for trees?

    When do you apply? I have often applied a manure based fertilizer (Pro-Gro) in Spring; and a manure-free compost at the beginning of dormancy in Fall.

    Kyle Barrett
    Treeline Design,LC
    Fairlee VT
    Zone 4

    March 21, 2024 at 4:30 pm #1890
    Josh Willis

    I think the type of compost manure generally is under the category, “Whatever you could get your hands on and that you could spread”. Not sure how many trees and acreage you are talking about. You can buy bulk or bagged composted chicken manure that is easy to spread and has a nice mix of nutrients, something around 5-4-3 for example. I wouldn’t worry too much about a precise NPK formula, as long as it is generally balanced. Cow manure that I’ve seen is less dense in nutrients, but might be easier to find a local source if you have a nice tractor to spread it with. Just watch out for what those animals were given to eat, so far as pesticide sprayed grains, antibiotics, etc.

    So far as when to spread, your timing seems about right to me. I think the standard teaching is in Spring. If you want to fine-tune it, some people argue for about 1/2 of N applied around bud break, and about 1/2 of N after petal fall, to ensure N availability throughout the growing season. Of course, ideally your soil has unlocked the entire N it needs through biological activity…but not sure how many people achieve that. Please pipe up if you have! 🙂

    I think Michael talked about spreading compost in the Fall, as you say, with the understanding that N would be collected for use in spring. I’m sure some compost with other soil amendments after soil testing would help those amendments be mineralized and integrated into the soil, in addition to any soil structure help that compost tends to have.

    There used to be a “Seasonal Checklist” on the website that Michael posted years ago, but I’m not sure if that is still available.

    Hope that helps!

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