Autumn top dressing of fruit crops


With the advent of autumn, the worries of summer residents do not seem to decrease, they grow almost avalanche-like. One has only to touch on autumn top dressing, how disputes flare up: are they needed or not, what and how to fertilize, how useful are fertilizers and is it not better to apply them in spring?

Apple orchard in autumn

We’ll be very careful in all of this so as not to affect the feelings of those who are in favor of feeding, and those who consider themselves to be an opponent of introducing any chemistry into the soil, we’ll try to figure it out today.

Are autumn dressings necessary?

Let’s say the apple tree is big, powerful, it presented us with a wonderful harvest this year, obviously the well-known elements were taken from the soil - nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; albeit in different quantities, but they were definitely consumed; and what, to leave everything unchanged, not to enrich the soil with fertilizers, not to restore the disturbed balance. And trace elements, after all, surely, considerable doses were taken from the soil: magnesium, calcium, and other similar and vital substances. If you listen to the logic, then in the autumn period the soil needs to be enriched with both basic elements and microelements, too. This will improve the structure of the soil, and create more favorable conditions for the growth and development of beneficial soil microflora.

What fertilizers are used for autumn dressing of the garden?

Ideally, the list of fertilizers that it is desirable to add to the soil in the autumn cannot be called so large: these are phosphoric, potash, wood ash and organic fertilizers. Nitrogen, as you already understood, is not needed at all in the autumn period, since it accelerates growth processes, fresh young growths appear that freeze in the winter, and if they are not cut in the spring, they begin to rot and weaken the plant immunity.

Start with phosphate fertilizers: they are mainly aimed at the full growth and development of the root system of plants, and of course, accompany the accumulation of protein compounds and sugar substances in cells.

In order to enrich plants with phosphorus in autumn, you can use both simple superphosphate and double superphosphate. The difference is in the concentration of the active substance, that is, phosphorus. These fertilizers can be in the form of granules or powdered. For example, mineral tuks have proved themselves very well in practice and are often used both in small summer cottages and in large industrial gardens.

Do not forget that phosphorus is a sedentary, hardly soluble in water substance, therefore, if you simply scatter it in the tree trunks in the autumn period, then there will not be much sense. Many even claim that such an application of these fertilizers in the autumn period does not have any effect at all. The best option is to embed superphosphate into specially made recesses of the near-stem band. The depth of such recesses should be 11-15 centimeters for tree species and 8-9 cm for berry bushes.

It is better to close up the phosphate fertilizer, having retreated 18-20 cm from the trunk or the main part of the bush, and to close up in the place where the suction roots should be located. One hole will not be enough, you need a dose of 25-30 g under a tree and 15-20 g under an adult bush to distribute into several holes.

Potash fertilizers in the autumn period, winter hardiness of all crops, without exception, is increased and the outflow of excessive moisture from plant tissues is promoted.

One of the best fertilizing of woody and shrubby plants is potassium sulfate, and also potassium sulfate: they do not have harmful potassium chloride. Both of these fertilizers can be applied in the amount of 7-12 g per square meter, it is advisable to loosen and water the soil well before applying, and then sprinkle the fertilizer applied.

If you already decided to apply fertilizers comprehensively in the fall, then we recommend using a combination of phosphorus and potassium fertilizers, because in this case, phosphorus is better absorbed by plants under the influence of potassium and, accordingly, the joint application of these fertilizers will be clearly more effective for plants than separate.

You can, of course, make it easier: decide to use potassium chloride. However, so that chlorine does not cause damage to the roots, it is necessary to apply this fertilizer as early as possible, so that before the onset of winter and freezing of the soil, harmful chlorine can be washed with irrigation and rainwater into deeper layers of the soil, inaccessible to the root system of cultivated plants.

Kalimagnesia is also a good autumn fertilizer; it, in addition to potassium, as the name implies, contains in its composition such an element as magnesium needed by most woody and shrub plants. Dry fertilizer is not recommended. The best option is to dissolve it in water and pour it over the near and trunk zones (15-18 g under an adult tree per bucket of water and 7-8 g under an adult bush - this is a completely normal amount of fertilizer during this period). Under young plants, doses can be halved. Do not forget that if the soil on your site is light and sandy, then the amount of magnesium can always be increased by 25-30%.

Autumn top dressing of berry bushes

Combined fertilizer

A couple of words I want to say about combined fertilizers in terms of their application in the autumn period. They have proven themselves quite well. Most often, the role of autumn combined fertilizers is potassium-phosphorus fertilizing, which we have already mentioned, but there are also a number of special fertilizers designed for fruit trees and berry bushes, on the packaging of which the inscription "autumn" flaunts. These are fertilizers such as Fertility, Orchard, Autumn for the garden, Universal, etc. Dosing doses are usually indicated on the packaging and must be strictly observed, in no case exceeding. Often, such fertilizers with such names are applied when planting young seedlings, the doses of fertilizers are small, there are trace elements, in general, there is everything you need.


Woody, or better, kiln ash (or ideally soot) - it contains trace elements and up to 5% potassium, when it is applied, the soil structure improves, soil acidification is inhibited, the soil mixture is enriched with even a small amount of trace elements necessary for such plants.

Wood ash, and if someone is lucky enough to get furnace ash or soot, it will be a wonderful autumn fertilizer. There is a minimum of nitrogen in it, traces, it can be said that it simply is not there, there is no chlorine, so even for young, newly planted crops, the use of these fertilizers is completely safe. And it is better to bring wood ash, and furnace, and soot into pre-moistened and loosened soil of 150-200 g each under a young plant, and then mulch, you can use the same soil that you loosened.

It is interesting that, although in a small concentration, wood and stove ash, as well as soot, contains potassium (up to 5%), phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, fluorine, boron, iodine and many trace elements that are simply necessary for the normal functioning of plant organism, therefore, to make it in the autumn season, this fertilizer is very useful.

Of course, wood and stove ash (as well as soot) have their own disadvantages. The main thing is the need to have them in large quantities, and if there are usually no problems with wood ash, then getting furnace ash, and even more soot, is now almost impossible.

Given this, when burning tree trunks, branches that remained after pruning, tops of vegetable plants, fallen leaves and straw, collect ash and use it as an autumn fertilizer, there will be no harm from this.

In an adult garden, under each tree older than seven years, usually up to half a bucket of ash or soot is brought into the autumn season, evenly distributing it in the near-trunk zone.


Organics is almost the only fertilizer that significantly increases the content of humus in the soil. It also helps to improve the air - water exchange of the soil, prevents excessive soil mineralization and naturally increases the yield of the next year, because the awakened plants will already have something to eat.

It is clear that fresh manure cannot be used for the simple reason that it contains significant doses of ammonia, and ammonia can kill the root system of both an adult tree and a young shrub.

For autumn application, you can use well-rotted compost (which, by the way, can literally cover the near-trunk zone of newly planted seedlings), humus (both fully and partially composted), as well as well-rotted manure, but diluted 10 times with water.

Depending on the age, condition of the soil, the degree of fruiting of the plant in the current year, under each tree or bush in the autumn season, you can make about a bucket of mullein diluted 10 times. Fertilizer is best applied to the previously loosened soil, or it can be repaired by carefully digging (so as not to damage the roots).

Garden fertilizer in the fall. © Anne Abrams

Fertilizer application rates in autumn

In conclusion, we give the approximate, recommended by many farms, doses of fertilizer in the autumn, under the most common fruit and berry crops.

Let's start naturally with pears and apple trees. Under trees older than eight years, it is necessary to add up to 7-8 kg of humus or compost, and by age more than ten years, you can add up to 20 kg of humus or compost, over twenty years - up to 30 kg of humus or compost. For each tree in dilute form, 25-30 g of superphosphate must be applied (incorporating it into the soil, as we already wrote) and up to 15-20 g of potassium sulfate.

Under the berry bushes, this is raspberries, gooseberries and currants, under each bush it is permissible to add 12-14 kg of compost or humus in the autumn, as well as 25-30 g of superphosphate, patching it along the border of the near-stem zone, and 25-30 g of potassium sulfate. Potassium sulfate can be added and dissolved in water.

Cherry and plum, - they respond well to chicken manure, diluted 15 times (per liter per tree) and well-rotted manure (diluted 10 times - 0.5 liters per plant), all this into previously loosened soil, retreating by 5 -7 cm from the base of the trunk. After about a week, in a bucket of water you need to dissolve 18-20 g of superphosphate and 10-12 g of potassium sulfate and use the resulting solution for each plant.

When to fertilize the garden in the fall?

It is advisable to apply fertilizer early in the autumn, before the ground freezes. Usually fertilize the soil until the third decade of December, later soil fertilization is not carried out. After applying any fertilizer, it is advisable to make mulch from compost a couple of centimeters thick, protect the compost and roots from freezing in case frost comes on the ground not yet covered by snow, and in spring, with the active melting of snow, it will become additional food.

Do not forget that autumn is almost the most favorable time for enriching the soil with nutrition in most plants, in the spring they will start growing, consuming nutrients from the soil already laid by caring hosts.