High Desert Group

It seems there is a need for discussion of fruit growing in the high desert of the inland West. I hope to hear from those of you inhabiting the high desert of Arizona & New Mexico, Great Basin and between the north-south mountain ranges in eastern Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. That covers a lot of ground yet is likely to be thinly represented.

I can start by noting varieties that strike me as losing flavor & condition by being grown in this environment: Calville Blanc d’Hiver, Esopus Spitzenburg, Wynoochee Early, Williams Pride, Rambour Franc, Connell Red (bud sport of Fireside), Queen Cox (bud sport of COP), Edelborsdorfer, Sturmer Pippin, D’Arcy Spice (quite disappointed about that).

Best so far in my limited experience? GoldRush (thank you all for encouraging me to try it!), Lamb Abbey Pearmain, Hunt Russet, Claygate, Redfield, Empire.


I’ve hoped for a thread for the region! it’s so painful to be Pacific Northwest and see people in zone 8!

I’m trying a gravenstein this year- in E WA. also have prickly pear from high desert/cold elevation that a friend’s sent me, trying to root the pads now for a very dry area in the yard.
I’ve got a good patch of white sage growing near that.

I have a lot of fruit trees and vines but they’re mostly 2-5 years old at most, and last year killed a few in our heat dome. I do a hoophouse for figs and citrus, and trying avocado in it.

I wish this was in the regional section. I feel very out of place in a drought, talking to people in a coastal rainforest

Looks as though the drought in E. WA is done for now. Half an inch of rain yesterday atop all that has fallen in the past five weeks makes everything green.
Here in Spokane the apple blossom time is just finished, with Connell at 90% petal fall today. I haven’t done any grafting over it this season & will keep a half dozen apples on it. Little taste but handsome.


Good call making this thread. I am going to add Southwest Idaho here as well. Technically we are the intermountain west, but I will say close enough.


Works just fine.

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Me too. 5b Northern Utah by the Idaho border.


we had a quick thunderstorm tonight just at dusk, otherwise it was a nice warm spring day. I’m glad for the rain and cool month, last year was horrible

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Colorado calcareous soil, reporting for duty. 6k feet elevation, only 13-14" of yearly precipitation.

Got apples, cherries, autumn olive, haskap, grape, blueberries.


Welcome! Calcareous soil - I take it that you enjoy high calcium in your dirt. I must add eggshells under each tree along with dolomite and Super Sweet when planting apples. Am considering broadcasting dolomite over the whole lawn to discourage dandelions and strengthen fruit bearing for the apples. (Learned that dandelions conserve calcium when I kept ducks a decade ago. The ducks dug down as far as possible to get the root as well as leaves. Strong eggshells!)

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I believe that it is due to a reduction in yeast symbiosis.
Both common commercial agricultural fertilization & disease control inhibit yeast symbiosis.
And now the environment has been drying out.
Midwest is in the 22 year of drought.

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Asimina Triloba is a yeast symbiosis species.
It has been in decline in the west in the Oregon preserves.
I enter this as evidence of reduced yeast symbiosis!

Wild symbiotic yeast need humidity, plus not be killed off by copper spray or fungicide control.
The yeast pass gibberellins, plus acetic acid am Auxin precursor to young leaves.
Gibberellins increase aromatic phenols & terpenoids.
Auxin makes fruit crisp, inhibits mealy traits, plus increases hang time & storage life.
Anthracnose is symbiotic with invasive gram-negative bacteria.
Gram-negative bacteria are quorum sensing function triggered to transition from benign to invasive by Ferric Oxide.
Ferric Oxide happens when Iron product unchelate.
Iron-EDDHA in very small quantities should be the only Iron product ever used.
Citric Acid & Humic acid can be used to chelate Iron already in the soil.
Having smaller denser trees in high density planting with leaf pull on north side for air in the canopy will optimize air flow & humidity ratios for yeast symbiosis.
Too much Boron also kills yeast.

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Before you add dolomite you should get a soil test for magnesium. There is usually enough magnesium in north American soils and having too much leads to disease. Gypsum is the way to go if you need calcium. An overwhelming majority of fungi also LOVE gypsum.


So you are having drop in aromatic phenols & terpenoids of heirloom varietals?
And live in Spokane?
I’m familiar with (Spokane, Priest River, Naches, Selah, Walla Walla, Yelm, Olympia, Tacoma, etc)
I have knowledge in agronomy.
Have 2 friends who are apple breeders in the Mountain deserts USA.
Give more details about the trees, micro environment & their care. Thanks

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  1. Have you done a soil analysis?
  2. What diseases are they having?
  3. All treatment information please?
  4. Age of trees?
  5. Watering frequency & methods.

if I chop dandelions back into the soil, will it add some calcium back? I’ve been using liquid calcium in my fertilizer on the tomatoes, but cutting dandelions in would be nicer

Huh, never tried chopping dandelions into the soil. Experience has shown the crown and upper root survive chopping. I fear I’d create even more dandelions!

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Wild yeast is one of the more common contaminations at my mushroom farm. Wild yeast, trichoderma, and a khaki spore color neurospora make up 98%+ of the contamination at our lab.

One easy way to collect and culture wild yeast IME is using hydrated lime and straw. Soak straw in a pH 12+ hydrated lime solution (yeast here is an extremophile when it comes to pH) for a week, or until you see carbonation forming in the solution.

Mushroom pictures, because I’m a POIDH person.


Dandelion won’t hurt the soil.
Calcium in most plants is primarily Calcium Pectate.
Easily decomposes.
Some plants like sunflowers have a lot of Calcium Oxalate, which is hard for some plants to assimilate.
Which liquid Calcium product?
Calcium Chloride 9.6pH?
Or Calcium Citrate or Calcium Nitrate?
In Spokane for an environment?


Well you are in luck,
Asimina Triloba grow in zone 5 & are yeast symbiotic!
My problem is 114 days per year above 100°F with 12% humidity & toxic levels of Calcium, Magnesium & Copper in the soil.
So it takes a massive amount of work & knowledge of yeast to help them thrive here.