Infrequent, deep soakings to create deeper root development and a more drought tolerant plant. Apply water to a depth of at least 18-20 inches. Frequency of irrigation is highly dependent on time of year and soil type. Heavier, clay type soils absorb water the slowest (1/2” per hour) and will require less frequent irrigation. Sandy soils absorb moisture the fastest (2” per hour) and thus require more frequent or prolonged periods of irrigation.
Apply a balanced tree and shrub fertilizer twice a year. SureGreen Tree and Shrub Special is an excellent fertilizer formulated for the high pH of New Mexico soils. Feeding is best done in early-mid spring with second application in early fall. Use fertilizers with NPK levels of 12-6-6 or 16-8-8 that contain Sulfur and Iron (or Ferrous Sulfate).
Piñons can be a host for a number of insects. Most commonly found are scales, aphids, pine tip moth, pitch moth and bark beetles. They can also be susceptible to borers. A good preventative measure is to apply a systemic insect drench containing Imidacloprid each spring. This is a broad spectrum nicotine based pesticide that will protect the plant for up to 12 months. Furthermore, spraying with Hi-Yield 28 Plus may be required for more extensive infestations. Pests are attracted to weak plants so keep things watered and healthy!
Specifics on Piñon Irrigation in Albuquerque
Through the tree’s first winter, irrigate at a rate of 10-15 gallons slowly applied every 10 days or so. Check the soil once a week, a couple to a few inches deep for moisture levels and apply additional water if needed. As the tree matures, irrigate less frequently (10-14 days in hotter months, once a month in winter) but for longer sustained periods each time the plant is watered.