Nutrient management is one of the most important aspects of any Christmas tree production operation. The goal of a nutrient management plan is to supply adequate nutrients to encourage optimum growth of high quality trees. The need for fertilization in Christmas tree plantations is determined by through soil testing, foliar analyses and observations of tree growth and needle color. determine. The potential exists to improve the growth and quality of many Christmas tree species through fertilization. However, for fertilization to be most effective, other environmental factors affecting tree growth such as the right site for the species, soil moisture considerations and effective weed control need to be in place.
Generally, growers should look at nutrient status of their plantations four times.
Soil testing is recommended prior to planting. Soil nutrient analyses can help ensure that nutrients and pH are at optimum levels. Nutrient additions such as P,K,Ca, Mg and adjustments to pH are often most effective if they are incorporated before planting.
Nutrient test values like potassium and the soil pH can decline with age. Once trees roots begin to fill the soil profile and trees are growing rapidly, usually in the 3-4th year, both soil and foliar tests can indicate whether soil nutrient supply is sufficient to meet the needs of the plantation going forward.
As trees approach harvest they may require more N that in earlier growth stages. Foliar analysis is the primary tool to evaluate nutrient levels in the tree.
This allows you to look at the results of your nutrient management program and to evaluate where you need to make any changes as you plan for your new planting.
*Even though this guide is written for soils and Christmas trees grown in the Pacific Northwest, it provides a good overview of the different aspects of nutrient management. The bulletin discusses tree nutrient use at various stages in the crop cycle and explains how to use soil and tissue testing to determine fertilizer needs.