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Fruit Trees

  MG Manual Reference
Ch. 11, pp. 9 - 18

[ Planting and Varieties: planting | varieties ]


Successful planting depends on several factors such as correct handling of nursery stock, condition of tree, site preparation, time of planting and after planting care. The best time to plant bare root fruit trees is during the dormant period. In general, trees should be planted as early as possible or about 30 days prior to expected bud break or average bud break in the geographical area. In zones 1 and 2 this would coincide with January 15th to 30th and in zones 3 and 4 this would be about March 1st to 31st. Planting after these dates decreases the chances of tree survival and/or may result in poor growth the first year.
The most important factor in handling trees is the prevention of root drying. Do not let the roots dry for more than 5 minutes. If drying occurs soak roots in water for 12-24 hours before planting. Sometimes this procedure will revitalize the tree. When trees are purchased from a nursery or mail order always check the condition of the roots and packing material. If either is dry, soak roots and wet packing material and place tree(s) in a cool environment. A refrigerator would be excellent but tree can be heeled in. Heeling in is accomplished by covering the roots with moist soil in a cool environment which is usually outdoors. This protection system should be used if there will be a delay in planting after purchase or acquisition of stock.
To plant the tree first put the tree root in a bucket of water. Dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than the spread and length of the root system. Make sure the sides of the hole are not glazed over as this will result in a root bound tree. Break out soil with a shovel. Trim diseased, dead, broken, or extra long roots. Place the tree in hole and spread roots. Fill the planting hole with water. Add soil. This removes air from roots and ensures viability. Keep adding water and soil until the tree is planted. Trees should be planted at the same depth as they were grown in the nursery. Make sure the bud union is about 2-3 inches above the soil line. Do not place fertilizer in the planting hole. This can be added later. No special mix or treatment is needed when planting fruit trees. Backfill with soil that came from initial hole.
After tree is planted prune top 1/3 to 1/2, but no shorter than 30 ????. This will stimulate good strong growth and lateral branching the first year. Container grown nursery stock can be transplanted any time of the year. Follow the above general directions on site preparation, fertilization and pruning. Always check the roots. They can become distorted or root bound growing in containers for a long period of time. It is suggested that some root pruning be done to ensure new root growth and subsequent strong top growth. Anytime roots are pruned top growth must be pruned to compensate for root loss.


Variety selection is based not only on location (zones) but on personal preference regarding use (fresh or processing), production, fruit size, taste and time of harvest. Selecting more than one variety of a kind of fruit can result in having fresh fruit over a 2 or 3 month period. This is called succession of ripening. Table 3 provides a list of varieties for the various fruit tree zones in Arizona. These are based on climate and chilling requirements.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Common parts of a fruit tree--scion (variety), interstem, and rootstock.
Most fruit trees represent the merging of two plant parts: the scion (variety) and rootstock (Figure 2). The scion is the fruiting variety that is budded or grafted on the rootstock. Rootstocks are selected based on certain characteristics such as dwarfing, nematode insect resistance, soil type, cold hardiness and disease resistance. Sometimes an interstem may be grafted between the rootstock and the scion for additional dwarfing. This is not common and more expensive.
A tree grown from seed is not true to type. This means that a seed that is planted from a desired fruit will not grow a tree that will produce the same fruit. A tree that grows from a seed is termed a seedling and will bear fruit that is generally small in size and of poor quality. However, seedlings are frequently used as rootstocks and have to be grafted to a known variety in order to produce fruit of a known size and quality.
Table 3. Fruit Varieties Suggested for Home Plantings in ArizonaTop

Kind Variety Adapted Regions Maturity Remarks
Apple Anna 1, 2 Early Season Excellent flavor when ripe. Breaks down rapidly. Needs fruit thinning. Self-fruitful.
  Dorsett Golden 1, 2 Early Season Yellow, flavorful, firm. Self-fruitful
  Lodi 3, 4 Early Season Large fruit with tart flavor. Needs cross pollenation.
  Gravenstein 3, 4 Early Season Medium to large fruit. Needs cross pollenation.
  Summered 3, 4 Early Season Medium to large fruit with red blush
  Jerseymac 3, 4 Early Season Fruit has semi-solid red blush; creamy. White flesh - needs thinning.
  Jonagold 3, 4 Mid-Season Large golden apple with red stripes. Stores well. Need cross pollenation.
  Gala 3, 4 Mid-Season Medium size fruit. Red blush over yellow color with aromatic flavor.
  Red Delicious 3, 4 Mid-Season Large red fruit with sweet taste. Need cross pollenation.
  Empire 3, 4 Mid-Season Medium dark red fruit with white creamy flesh.
  Jonathon 3, 4 Mid-Season Red and pale yellow medium size fruit. Firm, tart, crisp flavor.
  Golden Delicious 3, 4 Late Season Yellow large fruit. Excellent pollenizer.
  Firm Gold 3, 4 Late Season Yellow large fruited type of golden delicious.
  Granny Smith 3, 4 Late Season Large green fruit with tart flavor. Fruit set better with pollenizer.
  Braeburn 3, 4 Late Season Medium to large size fruit with crisp firm flesh. Fruit set better with pollenizer
  Fuji 3, 4 Late Season Dull red, medium sized fruit. Very sweet with excellent aroma and cream colored flesh
  Arkansas Black 3, 4 Late Season Deep red colored fruit. Flesh is hard and crisp - needs pollenizer.
Apricots Katy 1, 2 Early Season Excellent size and fruit quality. Freestone.
  Gold Kist 1, 2 Early Season Early Season Freestone, excellent quality.
  Castlebrite 1, 2 Early Season Freestone, excellent flavor.
  Wenatchee 3, 4 Mid-Season Large size with yellow skin and flesh.
  Tilton 3, 4 Mid-Season Medium size fruit with excellent flavor.
  Royal 3, 4 Mid-Season Medium size fruit with excellent flavor and sweetness
  Moorpark 3, 4 Late Season Large fruit and great flavor. Fruit may ripen unevenly.
Montmorency 3, 4 Mid-Season Large bright red fruit which is tart (pie use).
  North Star 3, 4 Mid-Season Red fruit, tart, genetic dwarf.
Bing 3, 4 Mid-Season Large black fruit. Excellent quality. Needs pollenizer. Use Van, Stella, or Hedelfingen
  Rainier 3, 4 Mid-Season Fruit has light yellow skin. Needs pollenizer. Use Van, Stella or Bing.
  Van 3, 4 Mid-Season Dark fruit, good quality. Excellent pollenizer. Use Bing or Rainier
  Lambert 3, 4 Late Season Fruit dark red, heart shaped; smaller than Bing. Pollenize with Rainier or Van.
  Stella 3, 4 Late Season Black, heart shaped fruit. Self fertile. Good pollenizer.
Figs Mission 1, 2, 3 Early Season Best all around fig. Two crops. Black skin and strawberry pulp.
  Kadota 1, 2, 3 Mid-Season Yellow skin and amber pulp.
Nectarines Red Gold 3, 4 Mid-Season Large, yellow flesh fruit. Self-fruitful, freestone.
  Sun Glo 3, 4 Mid-Season Large, deep yellow flesh, freestone.
Olives Manzanillo 1, 2 Late Season Major processing variety. Medium size fruit.
  Sevillano 1, 2 Late Season Very large fruit. Good pollenizer for Manzanillo
Peach Flordaprince 1, 2 Early Season Large to medium size red blush fruit. Semi-clingstone. Needs thinning to make size.
  Earligrande 1, 2 Early Season Large yellow fruit with a distinctive point. Excellent flavor.
  August Pride 1, 2 Early Season Large, sweet, aromatic, rich flavor.
  Babcock 1, 2 Early Season White fleshed freestone. Sweet, juicy and aromatic. Low in acid.
  Midpride 1, 2 Mid-Season Yellow freestone. Excellent quality.
  Tropic Sweet 1, 2 Early Season Yellow fleshed large freestone
  Tropic Snow 1, 2 Early Season Skin is white with red blush. White sweet flesh. Freestone.
  Ranger 3, 4 Mid-Season Large yellow fruit. Freestone wither excellent flavor.
  Red Globe 3, 4 Mid-Season Large yellow fruit with red markings. Freestone
  Redhaven 3, 4 Mid-Season Medium size fruit. Sets heavy crops and requires heavy thinning.
  Fay Elberta 3, 4 Mid-Late Large size, good flavor, little red blush, good producer.
  Reliance 4 late Season Winter hardy. Flesh is soft, juicy and yellow. Freestone.
  Rio Oso Gem 3, 4 Mid-Season Large fruit with red skin. Freestone.
  Redskin 3, 4 Mid-Season Yellow flesh with red blush. Heavy producer. Freestone
  Belle of Georgia 3, 4 Mid-Season White flesh, soft and juicy. Very productive.
  Cresthaven 3, 4 Mid-Season Yellow, juicy freestone. Firm and flavorful.
Pears Bartlett 3, 4 Mid-Season Large fruit with golden yellow color. Green at picking. Needs pollenizer for bet production.
  Seckel 3, 4 Mid-Season Small reddish brown fruit. Dessert quality.
  Surecrop 3, 4 Mid-Season Small reddish brown fruit. Dessert quality.
  Red Sensation 3, 4 Mid-Season Red Bartlett.
  Bosc 3, 4 Mid-Season Medium to large fruit - long tapering neck, darkly russeted. Stores well.
  Orient 1, 2 Early Season Very large fruit with white flesh.
  Floridahome 1, 2 Early Season Medium size fruit with thin green skin. Flesh is white and juicy. Harvest fruit green. Needs pollenizer. Hood is best pollenizer.
  Hood 1, 2 Early Season Good pollenizer for Floridahome.
  LeConte 1, 2 Early Season High quality, low chill pear. Needs cross pollination.
  Keiffer 1, 2 Early Season Fair quality, hard fruit containing grit cells. Needs pollenizer.
Shinseiki 3, 4 Mid-Season Medium to large fruit with yellow skin. Flesh is creamy white and firm.
  20th Century 1, 3, 4 Mid-Season Medium to large fruit with greenish yellow skin.
  Hosui 3, 4 Mid-Season Fruit has golden rusted skin. Flesh is firm, juicy and mild.
Persimmon Hachiya 3 Mid-Season Astringent until soft.
  Fuyer 3 Mid-Season Nonastringent and sweet.
Green Guage 3, 4 Mid-Season Medium size greenish fruit. Practically self-fruitful. Greater yields with cross pollination
  Stanley 3, 4 Late Season Large, purple fruit that is juicy and sweet. Self fruitful.
Santa Rosa 1, 2, 3, 4 Early Season Large purple fruit. Yellow flesh. Self-fruitful.
  Satsuma 1, 2, 3, 4 Mid-Season Medium dark red, juicy, tart fruit. Self-fruitful.
  Ozark Premier 3, 4 Mid-Season Very large red fruit. Self-fruitful.
Pomegranate Wonderful 1, 2, 3 Late Season Red skin color. Self-fruitful.
Quince Smyrna 1, 2, 3 Late Season Large fruit.
  Pineapple 1, 2, 3 Mid-Season Tart, good quality.
  Orange 1, 2, 3 Mid-Season Tart, good quality.
  Champion 3, 4 Late Season Cold hardy.

Rootstocks are propagated by seeds or cuttings. Those propagated by seeds are called seedling rootstocks and those propagated by cuttings are called clonal rootstocks. Those propagated (reproduced) by cuttings are genetically identical while plants propagated by seeds are genetically different. The most classic situation for clonal rootstocks is the apple semidwarf and dwarfs. Another fruit plant that is graphed to clonal rootstocks is grape. Fruit plants that have not been grafted but were developed from cuttings are often called "own roots" trees or plants. Examples of fruit plants grown on "own roots" are grapes, figs, olives and various types of berries.
Dwarf trees are very popular for use in the home grounds. They take less room and are adapted to container growing. Dwarf trees produce fruit of the same size, color and quality as larger standard tree. Dwarf trees are developed through the use of dwarfing rootstocks or genetic manipulation. Genetic dwarfs usually have very short internodes and dense foliage but have to be pruned, fertilized and cared for in the same manner as a standard size tree.
Advantages of dwarf trees:Top

• Fruit much sooner after planting.
• Bear less fruit per tree. Allows for planting more varieties without producing a large quantity of a particular variety.
• Can reach all parts of tree from ground without using a ladder
• Trees are easier to train and prune on an annual basis
Size Controlling
Figure 3. Size controlling rootstocks for apple trees
Apples are dwarfed by grafting the desired variety onto special clonal rootstocks. The most popular dwarfing rootstocks for apple were developed in England and are designated as either EM or M (for East Malling) or MM (for Malling Merton). The most popular stocks and their size control characteristics are shown in figure 3. Additional information on the general characteristics is shown in Table 4. The following are some important facts about the use of rootstocks for size control include. Trees must be pruned annually or size control may be lost. Loss of fruit by frost or pests will increase growth therefore summer pruning should be performed. The M9 and M26 rootstocks must utilize some type of support system i.e. stake, post, fence, etc. The rootstocks M7, MM106 and MM111 are the best for Arizona conditions for the homeowner.

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