How much water you need to give your fruit trees depends in part on where you live.

In our part of the world (central Victoria, Australia) we experience hot, dry summers, and they seem to be getting worse. 

When we first came home on the farm in the late 1990s we’d have the odd day here or there over 40°C. In recent years it’s not uncommon to have stretches of a week or more at a time with extremely high temps.

Hot conditions always beg the question…how much water is enough for fruit trees?

A woman dancing in water from a sprinkler in a garden.
Photo credit: Celeste Horrocks via Unsplash
Photo credit: Celeste Horrocks

How to calculate how much water your tree needs

The rough rule of thumb we use is that a mature fruit tree, with a full crop, in the height of summer, will need about 200 litres of water per week.

You may never need that much. However, if you’re installing an irrigation system we recommend you bear this figure in mind. A watering system with enough capacity to provide that much water to each tree in your garden will give you maximum resilience.

The true answer actually depends on lots of different factors.

  • how old the tree is;
  • how much fruit it has on it (if any);
  • the soil type;
  • what ground cover you have; and
  • the weather, particularly the temperature and the amount of wind.

A watering system will save water

You’ll be able to get away with giving your trees less water if you install an irrigation system. That’s because it’s much more efficient to slowly deliver a small amount of water through drippers or mini-sprinklers.

It's important to test and check all your drippers at the start of each season
It’s important to test and check all your drippers at the start of each season

There are so many reasons that watering your trees with either hose or bucket is not a great way to go.

It will inevitably lead to some water wastage through run-off. It can also be hard to make sure the water gets down to the root zone where it’s really needed.

Irrigating by hand is also time-consuming, and it can be physically hard for some people.

Can you tell we’re big fans of irrigation systems?

Here are the steps to making irrigation simple and effective:

5 steps to making your irrigation system simple and effective

  1. Figure out how much water each of your trees will need at peak production, in hot conditions.
  2. Work out what and where your best water source is.
  3. Design and install a hose or pipe system to get the water to the trees as efficiently as possible.
  4. Decide on which type of drippers and/or mini-sprinklers you’ll use, and install them. See the ones we use here.
  5. And lastly (but importantly), add a timer or programmer to your irrigation system so it will turn itself off (and even on) automatically!

You’ll find a lot more details about how to set up your perfect drip irrigation system in the Be a Wise Water Warrior short course.

Happy irrigating!

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