Almond trees from nursery are easily managed during the first year. The goal is to set the roots in the ground and let the stem grow straight. These Lauranne trees grafted on conventional almond rootstock were planted in January 2013. They did well. Winter was dry, but I did not irrigate them. Spring rain was abundant that year in La Mancha. The Mediterranean summer was as hot and dry as usual.
Growth was slow until the summer, and then it exploded. They started developing lateral branches that I carefully pruned as they appeared, trying not to cut them very close to the main stem. I let branches grow above 90 cm above the ground. I think this was a mistake. It is preferable to let them grow from 80 cm on, which would have provided more freedom when selecting the primary branches in winter, while standing spring wind better the next spring.
I also prepared the roots during summer by keeping the soil loose around the trunk using a pick.
I did not use fungicides or insecticides during the first season. I did not apply soil fertilizers either. I only applied a foliar spray of phosphoric fertilizer (at the label recommended dose) mixed with micronutrients (half the recommended dose) in September and October.
Winter pruning in December was simple. I selected 2 to 3 main branches and pruned them 25 cm long. This length is rather short. The ideal main branch length is 40 cm, but in the case of these trees, branches had grown horizontally and it was neccesary to re-direct them towards a 45º or 60º angle. Those main branches were located around 1 m above the surface. It would have been preferable to have them spaced out from 80 cm to 100 cm.
I also prepared the roots in January by digging around the trunk and cutting off the superficial roots. Something important in dry farming is keeping the soil clean of weeds. I use cultivation for this purpose.