T posts for dwarf fruit trees - Where to get? Price?

Olathe, KS(Zone 5a)

I will be starting another mini orchard at my new house (assuming I get it). The last time I planted dwarfs, I did not stake them. The apples fell over with fruit. The peaches were propped up with boards and stayed up, but what a sight. This time I want to do it right. I have a teenager who will help get the posts into the ground, but I cannot find 8 ft stakes and read that Lowes stakes are flimsy and will fall over. Where do I get sturdy stakes? What key words work? I get some websites for t -posts but no prices. I will be in Olathe KS.

I am also going to use the other side of the stake (while tree is young) for tomato plant hoops (tomatoes and cucumbers) to make use of space. I will be staking 15 trees (including 2 flowering cherries - one type fell over in a freak snow storm and never recuperated). Thanks.

La Grange, TX(Zone 8b)

You should be able to get 8' T-posts at any farm and ranch supply store. I'm sorry but I've never really priced them. When I've had to buy them, they are usually part of a long list of fencing materials I have to pick up for my DH. I do know that you will need a gadget to drive the posts into the ground. That costs about $60.00. The posts will stay in the ground, but you will have a problem pulling them out when it's time to get them out. Not only will you heed a t-post puller, but you are going to do a lot of root damage in getting them out.

You might consider modifying your culture practices for the first few years after you plant your dwarf trees and use regular support posts ones that you can remove without damaging the roots later on. Don't let the trees fruit for the first couple of years so the trees have time to establish a good supporting root system. Then for the next few limit the number of fruit on the trees. This gives the trees time to establish a good limb caliper so the branches can support the weight of the fruit they will carry later on. Otherwise you risk losing branches which destroys any scaffolding you have established. Then follow the recommended thinning practices for each type of fruit tree.

Olathe, KS(Zone 5a)

Thanks. I only need one per tree - right? I am supposed to keep stakes on dwarfs forever, only remove stakes on semi dwarfs after a few years. The dwarf apple in my last mini orchard that fell over the worst was a Gala with really big trunk. I almost think more than one stake might be required.

La Grange, TX(Zone 8b)

It all depends on how you plan to stake each tree. If you are going to keep the stake away from the trunk to give the trunk space to expand, you will need 2 stakes.

You are right, some dwarf trees have such a small root system that they need permanent staking. Not all dwarfing root stock have that problem, but you may have to accept a slightly larger tree. Have you tried genetic dwarfs? Most have a good root system. If you are willing to do some summer pruning, you can reduce the height of semi-dwarf trees. Semi-dwarf trees have a much better root system. You may also have a greater variety from which to choose if you go with semi-dwarfs.

Olathe, KS(Zone 5a)

Just located a county ext. agent who has dwarf fruit trees. He advises staking for 1 year, then removing. He used 8' t-posts, said 6' was good enough. Argued that if I had to remove, it would be a pain so why not use wood. He argued that the stake must be substantial and that I could too remove them (hah- I am too old for this). He talked about verifying the root system and to plant any part without good roots away from the wind side, opposite s or sw. He said to make sure top of 'root flare' is at ground level and to make sure it does not go too deep or sink later. He said to put post 4 to 6 inches on wind side sw or s. Must tie with soft flexible material so tree can move. He is getting back to me with more info.

Olathe, KS(Zone 5a)

The agent just found info from U of MO - says to stake dwarfs forever, use 10 ft, 2 ft deep. He says to follow this.
Cannot find 8 ft much less 10 ft stakes. What a pain.

Cadiz, KY(Zone 6b)

On a university farm I saw green "u" channel post being used for dwarf tree support. Here's some at a web site, you may find others.
http://www.champion-america.com/u-channel-green-baked-enamel-posts-ch135.html

Olathe, KS(Zone 5a)

Thanks. Wow - they are really expensive. Have to figure out what to do and how much to spend.

Hurst, TX(Zone 7b)

You could also reduce the number of peaches per six inches of area to about 1 or so.

Cadiz, KY(Zone 6b)

Looking around on the internet, 10' T post seem to be about $9-10 each. If you check with farm supply or fencing companies locally maybe you could avoid shipping cost which would be pretty steep. Good Luck!

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