Ask a Question forum→Help determining Watering

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Lovington, NM 88260
Overcon
May 30, 2020 5:05 PM CST
Hi all, I could really use some help. I cannot determine if I am watering my 1-year old fruit trees or underwatering them. I live in Southeastern New Mexico. The temps tend to be pretty hot from now till November. My trees are developing yellow leaves towards the tops of the trees that then turn brown. I can't tell if the leaves are 'drooping' or not. I have to water my grass daily, for 45 minutes using sprinklers attached to my hose to get/keep the grass green. I am afraid this is watering the trees too much, but when I stick a moister prob next to the tree trunks, it shows just over the middle of the probs moister meter. I am pushing the prob down 5-6 inches in depth.

I looked up signs of over-watering and they are the same as not watering enough. I am afraid I am going to lose the trees if I can't figure this out. Does anyone have some tricks to help me determine if I am drowning my trees or if they are drying up! I can provide pictures if it would help. Also, this is happening on the pear tree and the cherry trees. So far I haven't seen it on the plum trees.

Thank you!
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 30, 2020 9:54 PM CST
Welcome!

When leaves yellow toward the tops of the trees, its underwatering as the tops of the trees are farther from the roots. Yellowing towards the bottom is overwatering because closer to the roots.

The lawn is using all the water. You either need to remove the lawn out about 5 ft or, put a hose under the trees for a few hours each week. Lawns are water hogs but only need to be watered a couple inches down. Trees need to be water several feet down.
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Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Container Gardener Herbs Moon Gardener Enjoys or suffers hot summers Heirlooms
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kittriana
May 30, 2020 10:03 PM CST
You guys are having heat waves, too- shading in deep mid day -if even just the ground- may help your trees. I know NM is dry heat, I know we used to flood irrigate at least once a week and allow long soaks overnite for trees. I agree with Daisyl, lawn thrives on short water-short roots- but the trees need a deep soak. The brown leaves indicate the roots are dying and cannot send water upward to the leaves. Good luck Welcome!
So many roads to take, choices to make, and laughs to share!
Lovington, NM 88260
Overcon
May 30, 2020 10:10 PM CST
DaisyI said: Welcome!

When leaves yellow toward the tops of the trees, its underwatering as the tops of the trees are farther from the roots. Yellowing towards the bottom is overwatering because closer to the roots.

The lawn is using all the water. You either need to remove the lawn out about 5 ft or, put a hose under the trees for a few hours each week. Lawns are water hogs but only need to be watered a couple inches down. Trees need to be water several feet down.


Thank you! I never even thought of that and searching the web never put it like that! I kept thinking I was overwater them and I kept cutting back on the lawn watering and that was probably just making it worse! Now I know I can just water them really well once a week and see how that goes. Thank you very much, they probably would of died from lack of watering :(

Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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ctcarol
May 31, 2020 3:11 PM CST
Those moisture meters aren't long enough to reach the root zone. You can try digging down near the drip line of the tree, or find something longer, like a sharpened stick or a piece of rebar as a probe to see how deep the the water is soaking. It will resist when it hits dry soil.
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
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Arico
May 31, 2020 3:43 PM CST
Lawns are a major competitor for water to shrubs and trees, especially when they're young. Removing the lawn a good several feet away from the trunk will reduce this competition.

So if you need to water your lawn that much just to keep it alive, you'll need to water MORE to also keep your trees alive.
[Last edited by Arico - May 31, 2020 4:42 PM (+)]
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Name: Paula Benyei
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
May 31, 2020 3:59 PM CST
I disagree with daisyl on over/under watering. I wish it were that simple. It's not the clear cut. Roots to leaf are not mirror image single pathways. It's simply not true that an overwatered plant's leaves will die from the middle out and under watered will die from the outside in. That is not correct at all.


However, in an environment as hot and dry as yours it's likely heat stress is causing these issues and maintaining good levels of hydration is good advice.
The plural of anecdote is not data.
Name: Paula Benyei
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
May 31, 2020 4:05 PM CST
Determine appropriate watering by Poking a finger in to the second knuckle to feel the soil at the center of the pot, using a moisture meter ($7-10 on Amazon), lifting the pot to determine weight (water is heavy and you'll get a feel for it over time), using a wood probe like a popsicle stick and check for color changes ( damp wood is darker than dry wood).

Seeing the plant wilt and deteriorate will tell you that you probably have a watering issue, But you can to visually assess if the issue is over or under watering
The plural of anecdote is not data.
Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Container Gardener Herbs Moon Gardener Enjoys or suffers hot summers Heirlooms
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kittriana
May 31, 2020 9:20 PM CST
Hey Turbo- he has a tree planted in the ground, NOT in a pot, and NM soil is sand. hot in the daytime, no heat retention at night, and cool at night (unless you are in Laredo, Tx and it stays 101* til sunup)
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