CLIMATE AND SOILS

PLANT HARDINESS ZONES

The USDA has updated their Plant Hardiness Map that divides the nation into regions based on average minimum temperatures. These are not absolute minimums, but average annual temperatures. These Zones are used to describe the range in which plants are adapted to and can be grown. We list these Zones for each of our products. 

 From North to South - Dark Purple is Zone 4, Blue Zone 5, Dark Green Zone 6, Pale Green Zone 7, Yellow Zone 8, and Tan Zone 9.

Use the the link to plug in the zip code where you will be planting .  

  USDA Plant Hardiness Plant Zone Map Link


 

MICRO-CLIMATE
Inside these Zones, variation in elevation, site location, directional orientation and proximity to bodies of water such as lakes can create variation in temperature than can raise or lower the temperatures experienced at the site. These micro- climates can allow or prohibit the planting of particular plants. Fruit trees that break dormancy early may likewise be damaged by late season frosts that settle in frost pockets at the bottom of valleys or even swales, whereas higher on hillsides the cold air drains off down to the bottom and does not damage the trees. The south side of a hill or mountain can be much warmer with winter sun and protection from cold north winter winds. Consideration of micro-climate is very important in choosing where to plant.

Try to pick a location that avoids low lying frost pockets or areas that stay wet in the spring for long periods during snow melt.

SOILS

Soils throughout the South vary widely, from the red clays of the Piedmont to the deep sand of old beachfront dunes or the hardpan of poorly drained flatwoods in Florida. Ideal soils for growing are well-drained, sandy loams, which are relatively common in much of the farm lands and river bottoms of the south. A clue to the productivity of the soil are the types of native trees growing on the site  if it supports large oaks, hickories and other hardwoods, it is probably suitable to plant. If the only trees on your land are pines and saw palmetto, then you will have to add organic matter and nutrients to the soil. 

Soils may vary substantially even within one property, depending on location and prior use, whether hillside, bottomland, or top of a hill.

The type of soil you have  sand, clay, or loam? influences how fast water penetrates before running off, how often plants will need to be watered, and how much water you'll need to apply with each irrigation. Observe what happens to your soil when you wet it.

Sandy soils absorb water quickly without puddling. Compared with plants growing in clay soils, those in sandy soils need water more often, but since water penetrates sandy soils faster, you don't need to apply as much. In sandy soils, irrigate more frequently, but don't apply so much water that it will flow through the root zone without stopping.

Clay soils absorb water more slowly than sandy ones do; when water is applied too quickly, it puddles or runs off before being absorbed. Clay soils are slow to dry out; plants that grow in them are particularly at risk of diseases and other problems that result from over watering. Stretch the time between waterings so plants have a chance to partially dry out. Apply water slowly so it doesn't run off before it can be absorbed.

Loam soils absorb water at an even pace without heavy puddling or runoff. You can recognize loam by picking up a moist handful; when you let go, it holds together but falls apart easily with some gentle prodding.

Most soils are a mixture of clay, sand, and loam. Identify what predominates in your soil and adjust your watering accordingly.

Local Agricultural Extension offices will often perform soil analysis as a free service and they will recommend what treatments will be necessary to create an optimum environment. Trees are likely to get too little water in well-drained soil and to much in soil that is poorly drained. We recommend for best success to supplemental water your newly planted trees for the first two years.

SOIL pH

Soil’s acidity or alkalinity is determined by pH. The best pH for growing most nut and fruit trees is between 5.0 and 7.0.  It is in this range that most nutrients are available.  Soils in much of the East fall within this range. Soils in pine flatwoods are often lower (4.5-5.0), and need to be raised by the application of lime or dolomite. Other areas (such as Texas) have soils with pH > 8, which will need to be acidified or lowered by the application of nitrogen sulfate or other sulfur-based fertilizers.