An introduction and new SW Ohio zone 6b orchard (~30 trees), other growers in my area?

Good morning,

So glad I found this wonderful forum! I am an experienced vegetable gardener excited to start our first orchard. We have grown container blueberries, apples and persimmons in the past but not at the level we are undertaking next spring. I was hoping to connect with some others in similar humid continental climates, share notes failures and wins along the way.

We live on 10 acres in SW Ohio, recently changed to planting zone 6b. That being said, in just the 6 years we have lived in the area we have had two 5b winters.

We have a few maturity golden delicious type apple trees that were already on the property. After a heavy pruning they produced very well for us this year. For the spring we are planting the following:
Apples: Dayton, Crimson Topaz, Pristine, Arkansas Black, William’s Pride and Enterprise
Pears: Seckel, Harrow Crisp
Asian Pears: Yoinashi, Olympic, Chojuro, New Century
Peaches: China Pearl, Redhaven, Intrepid, Contender
Sour Cherry: Meteor
Japanese Plums: AU Rosa, Shiro
Hybrid Plum: Methley
European Plum: Stanley
Apricot: Harcot, Harglow
Persimmon: Nikitas Gift and Ichi Ji Kei Jiro
Blueberries: Sweetheart, Spartan, Bluecrop, Blueray, Legacy, Elliott
Raspberries: Prelude, Caroline, Double Gold
Blackberry: Primo-ark
Strawberry: Earliglow, Jewel, Sparkle

The bulk of the trees are coming from Cummins nursery and a few from One Green World.

We also had two sweet cherries originally on the list but ultimately decided not to buy them after doing more research (partially on this forum) in our growing area.

We are aware that many of trees we chose pose challenges in our area. In particular many of the early blooming stone fruits will have variable fruit production due to late frosts. Also we are resigned to not be fully organic as it does not seem reasonable to do in our growing area with the disease pressure on stone fruits in particular. Has anyone found otherwise?

For the persimmon, especially the non astringent Ichi Ji Kei Jiro, they are borderline for our zone but will be planted against a south facing wall with a warmer microclimate. We had good success with the Nikita’s Gift persimmon at our previous property.

Anyone else from the Ohio river valley region? Growing any of the cultivars listed above? I’d love to connect!

Peter

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Welcome to the forum :slight_smile: . I don’t live in Ohio but I do live in central Illinois so I think my climate is similar enough I think I can answer a few of your questions.

For stone fruits it is highly unlikely you will be able to control brown rot without spraying a synthetic fungicide at some point. You may get a number of years before brown rot shows up in your orchard but when it does some spraying is going to be needed. Planting resistance cultivars can help. Tart cherries in general have quite a bit of resistance to brown rot. You may be able to avoid spraying them. With peaches, in general there isn’t really many resistant cultivars. Glohaven, Elberta, and Baby Gold #5 have some resistance to brown rot. However, I think even with resistant peaches spraying will probably be required in the long run.

For late frosts there are some cultivars that bloom pretty late and could make sure you get a crop if you get a late frost. For tart cherries Surefire is a late bloomer and for Sweet cherries BlackGold is also a late bloomer. I have both of these. Glohaven will often produce fruit in bad frost year. For the other stone fruits I think you could also find some late bloomers. I believe there are some forum threads on late blooming stone fruits.

The forum does have some members that live in Ohio. The forum has a location map for members but not everyone on the forum is on the map.

Your raised bed garden looks really nice.

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Hi mroot, thanks for the reply!

We initially had some aspirations of limited sprays / mostly organic options but ultimately I felt it was either spray synthetics or not grow stone fruit and we wanted to give them a try so we are open to and understand they will almost for sure be required.

Great info on the cherries…we initially had a white and black gold cherry on our Cummins order but ultimately decided it would just be an uphill battle. How is BlackGold as far as cracking for you with the summer rain? Does the taste compare at all to a decent store bought Eastern Washington cherry?

I’ll check out the location map!

P

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Both WhiteGold and BlackGold have some cracking resistance. I have seen cracking with BlackGold. It’s not every year but if you have heavy rains as the cherries are ripening you get cracking. Tart cherries have quite a bit of crack resistance usually with tarts I don’t see any cracking although in a really bad year I do see some cracking. BlackGold and WhiteGold are good choices for Ohio.

Taste of cherries is bit complicated since people “like” cherries based on flavor and texture. Even on the forum people confuse these two things. They will say the flavor is bad but what they really mean is the texture is not what they want usually they think the cherry is too soft compared to say a store bought Bing cherry. Old heirloom sweet cherries are generally soft and so are tart cherries. Modern store bought cherries are usually firm partially because growers wanted cherries that would ship long distances without damage. Black Tartarian is an old heirloom with excellent flavor but it is small and soft so people that like firm cherries wouldn’t enjoy eating it. Compared to Bing BlackGold is relatively soft with good flavor. WhiteGold also has good flavor and is firmer and more like a Bing cherry.

If you primarily eat cherries because of the firm texture BlackGold will be a disappointment, and WhiteGold a better choice. If you like softer cherries I think both of these will be enjoyable to eat. I grew up eating soft tart cherries so I expect cherries to be softer but for people that have only eaten store bought cherries that are firm like Bing it can be a disappointment to eat softer cherries. But it really depends on the individual eating the cherry.

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Lots of good cultivars on your list. Right choices on strawberries in my opinion. Apples you should be able to have most any kind if you spray them. (Of course, almost 49 years ago it did get to -35F in Cincinnati one night.)

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Thanks for the feedback Blueberry. Hopefully we don’t get another winter like that any time soon!

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For those that like YouTube videos I made a video about our plan. Only difference is I decided against the sweet cherries but may add the white gold back in.

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Thank you! As I said in the video I’m no expert but am definitely willing to put in the work and will document my progress good or bad as I go!

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Peter,
Welcome to this site. Lots of great information and helpful people here. Looks like some beautiful scenery around you. Lovely house and garden as well. I look forward to watching some of your videos.
Trying to go fully organic is almost impossible in that area. ( I have know no one that has been successful around me- so far) Too much disease and insect pressure. It always sounds like a great idea. Like you mentioned, you just resign yourself to knowing that and just use what you need to use to get decent fruit.
Anyway, welcome to this site. Enjoy!!

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We got -40F last year during one winter week.

You’re counting the ‘feels like’ temp…either that or had a thermometer malfunction.
:wink:

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Hey Mike, thanks for the input! Looks like we are in similar areas. I think I saw in your previous posts you grew redhaven and contender peaches, how have they done so far for you? We are also trying intrepid (around the same ripening time as contender) and China pearl a white peach. All supposedly have later bloom times. And thanks for the input as far as sprays, seems silly to even try in our area without a good schedule. Do you grow any plums? Peter

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For those that like a visual, this is the current planting plan. Spacing is about 10-12ft on center, planning on significant pruning to keep trees small. Initially I had the plums planned towards the house but just in case I end up taking them out I wanted more reliable apples up front since that is the entrance to the garden and the view from the kitchen. South is towards the bald cypress (orange colored tree in Fall).
We will see what changes between now and spring…

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Welcome to the forum!

You have more experience doing this than I do but since I’m in Ohio too - I would not consider trying to be fully organic. The first year I had stonefruits I thought I could get away with no pesticides at least, and then I lost everything but 6 peaches. I have a family member nearby to me who grows organic and the quality of fruits we get are in a different league entirely

Heritage raspberries grow like weeds for me
I am colder than you and my Alfred apricot has started producing
Methley Plum and Contender peach have thrived
I’d also put a vote in for Hazelnuts, throw a little nitrogen on them and they seem to love it here

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Hey Chris, thanks for the welcome and nice to see another Ohioan. Yes, so glad I have great people like the ones on this forum to spread info as I would love to grow organic but am absolutely going to start a good conventional spray schedule after reading everyone’s experience. We have had great success with raspberries in the past as well, I love the primocane fruiting varieties since you get fruit early and then a big crop late as well. Nice to see we have some overlap in trees! Does your Methley plum blossom super early and have you had trouble with bud kill with freezes? As you can see by my picture I put our Apricots against the house for added freeze protection and if the trees are doing well but we lose fruit to freezes I may consider a spring enclosure for them. Haven’t looked into hazelnuts but thanks for the tip! I see you grew a whitegold cherry…that’s the one I’ve been wavering on whether to keep in my order or not. Do you wish you planted something else?

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My Methley feels like it blooms early but it has yet to be zapped by frosts enough that I am not getting more and more plums every year. I do struggle with Apricots and have lost some whole trees to our winters but Alfred has kept growing and I got my first apricots last year, it seems to me to be the most cold tolerant of the ones I’ve tried. I did just plant a Harcot so fingers crossed that will also survive

As far as sweet cherries, I will be done with them after White Gold bites the dust. They really are disease magnets. White Gold has been the sole survivor but I haven’t been able to get a good fruit set on it (probably because I don’t have any other pollinators any more). I wasn’t super impressed by the (1) cherry I’ve managed to get off it. I do want to try sour cherries though…

You’ve already got going what I would recommend! Strawberries, Raspberries and Blackberries are easy wins for lots of fruit while the trees get producing. They all grow like weeds with just a little fertilizer here

Looking forward to seeing more of your endeavors!

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You have lots of good choices on your list. I’m in NE Ohio. AU Rosa and Shiro do well for me, but I would plant Toka instead of Methley. Tastes better, fairly reliable and has gotten no black knot for me so far. I would throw in a Carmine Jewel sour cherry or two also. It has been the most reliable stone fruit for me so far. Concord type grapes are also reliable, but get hit hard by Japanese Beetles. If you have room, I’d plant a few Paw Paws. They get hit by frost more often than I’d like, but the trees are nice looking and are zero maintenance. Keep in mind that after a few years, you can graft other varieties onto all your trees also.

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Thanks for the great advice! Nice to hear feedback that AU Rosa and Shiro did well, I was concerned ultimately those would do poorly for us but wanted to give them a try. I’ll keep Toka on my list and perhaps consider grafting it if the other plums do okay in my orchard. We had Concord grapes at our previous property that did well and will consider those or perhaps some of the more resilient table grapes (perhaps Somerset? The kids prefer seedless) for next year. We actually have a few native Paw Paws around the pond and I’m working on freeing them up from all the honeysuckle smothering them. We also saved many seeds from a local hike to sprinkle about the pond as well…do you find the cultivars sold have different taste than the wild ones? We definitely have space on our property but I wanted a more compact orchard close to the house and next to the veggie garden. And thanks for the Carmine Jewel cherry advice! I think I will replace my whitegold with that and have Carmine Jewel in addition to the Meteor I ordered.

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Both the Contender and Redhaven has done well for me here. Both are great peaches. It is just iffy if you will get any fruit each year because of late frosts/freezes we can and usually get about the time the peach trees are blooming, unfortunately. However, if the fruit sets and no frost/freezes the peaches are wonderful.
I tried to grow plums but the squirrels would take the plums off the tree and take bites out of them before they were ripe. So I gave up on trying to grow plums. So I use the space for something that I can actually get some fruit.

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Yes, my opinion is that the named Paw Paw cultivars taste much better than the wild ones. I have Sunflower which is mild tasting and has no bitter aftertaste. Also, I have a Somerset grape and it is pretty good. The grapes are a little on the small side, but they are crisp, seedless, and tasty. Also productive.

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