It's "best of the best" varieties time again

I have been slowly eliminating varieties and turning my hundred-plus variety pedestrian dwarf orchard into a big tree regular orchard. It is all due to animal pressure which has been decimating my harvest. I need tall trees the deer can’t reach, and I need massive crops ripening at once so the other animals can take some but not clean me out. On top of that, it is a pain to keep track of tons of varieties and I am tiring of it.

Anyways, around this time of year I usually start thinking about what I want to save and what to get rid of. This year I also happen to have a new 40x40 or so patch where I just took out some dead/dying landscape trees and I can add a few large fruit trees.

Here is my current thinking of my best of best.

Plum: I am still trialing a few more varieties but it still is Satsuma and Lavina that are the standouts. I already have nice big trees of those so no need to add more. I’d like to have a later one as well, but so far I am just getting a lot of knot on the later ones. I will probably add another plum tree to this new area.

I should probably give up on the European plums, either that or just grow one variety on a really big tree. They are not super happy in my climate and I lose a great many of the often-limited sets. Maybe French Petite is the one I would keep as it is the most reliable / tasty. I prefer the Gages or Coes for flavor but they are not as reliable. Well, Coes is reliable on the setting but it is hard to keep the bugs off of it.

Peach: This is going to be my one exception, I have many unusual peaches and will keep most of them. Ones like Pallas, Oldmixon Free, Kaweah, Red Baron, Nectar, Baby Crawford, Sanguine Tardeva, Sunglo nectarine, etc. So many great peaches, so little time…

Cherry: Montmorency is the one sour I am keeping. I have been trying to grow bush cherries above deer height for several years now but may just hang up on that attempt… they are not even shoulder-high yet, and they are completely fenced-in so the deer cannot touch them. I am still trialing my sweets, White Gold is the only real keeper now.

Apricot: My Ilona tree is very big and vigorous and is as tasty/reliable/productive as any apricot. It should be all above the deer soon as well. Florilege is also good and is a lot later so will keep that one to spread out the harvest; nearly all other common apricots are early like Ilona.

Apple: Beyond my cider orchard I am getting more and more picky about varieties, I am losing money on the limited crop I am getting so I want really original varieties only that are very resistant to rot. Also I am realizing I don’t like sour apples, my stomach is not a fan. There are still a bunch of great varieties I like and will keep such as Abbondanza, Swayzie, Hooples, Reine des Reinettes, Kidds, Suncrisp, Hawaii, Reinette Clochard. I’ll still keep some other ones but just for the occasional samples the deer let me have. I have some still under trial as well.

Pear: I just ate a Dana Hovey which was awesome. Checking the brix it was 23. I’m not a big brix person but when you have that level of brix and flavor you have the one pear I want. It has also been super productive and an easy grower, storer, ripener. The only downside is a bit of grit now and then. Aurora is a runner-up, not quite as tasty and more prone to rots being an earlier pear. Fondante des Moulins-Lille of course as well, although they are a little too sensitive to bruising. I should put that one in a better spot, there is not a lot of sun where it is now. Those three are absolute keepers. Magness and Urbaniste are just as good but are not being very productive for me.

I can’t get as excited about the asian pears, not sure there is any I will keep long-term. Drippin Honey and Kosui are the ones I like the most.

Quince: I am finally getting some fruits on a fireblight-resistant seedling I grew out. It is having a hard time getting tall enough though, and my deer seem to be quince fans. Anyway if this guy ever gets high enough it should be a good tree. All the other quince I had were horrible fireblight magnets.

Jujube: Honey Jar. I’ll still finish trials on some other ones but nothing is coming close so far. I have this as a side graft on a tree and I am going to remove the other variety and make a 20-footer out of this one. Now that it is in a more sunny spot it is setting pretty well.

Fig: I have recently realized that figs come in three varieties in my orchard: under-ripe, ripe, and over-ripe (aka bug-infested). In other words, the ripeness level is far more important than the variety name in terms of flavor. I guess it is nice to have some earlier and later-ripening varieties as well. So, going to keep all the figs I have. I got a pretty good crop this year, it seems my deer are not big fig fans.

Persimmon: I need to get these higher, I added some new trees last year since the 20-year-old ones I had pruned low were not vigorous enough any more to go higher. Huk Gam is the only older one I succeeded on getting high, it is finally over the deer. I have a new Hachiya and a Rojo Brilliante that I hope to get up there as well. I am trying to get Chocolate higher but it is not doing it yet. Persimmons get very loaded and the branches bend low so it is hard to keep the crop above the deer. Peaches have a similar problem. On my newer trees I just let them shoot up like rockets, the higher the better. In terms of varieties I don’t find a huge difference but I do like Chocolate the most. I prefer the softer ones as they have more flavor than the crunchy ones.

Pawpaw: See fig.

Pomegranate: Gee not sure what to do about these. My big trees are still not producing much in spite of some being almost 20’ tall. The few fruits I do get taste just like the store ones. I really should just chop them all down.


This is a silly question, but how tall do the fruiting branches have to be to be safe from deer? I don’t currently have to deal with them, but might have to in the future.


It depends on the persistence of the deer and how accessible it is below the tree. It is in fact good to keep some lower branches as otherwise the deer can stand on their hind legs below the fruit and reach up… the lower branches will block them from standing right under the tree. They can reach up to about 8’ tall but 6’ is often high enough. The baby deer can’t reach as high but mommy is happy to knock down fruit for them.



Have the same deer pressure others do if I don’t grow full sized trees. Full size trees produce more in less space as well. We are not running up and down ladders as fast as we used to so I would like to make a suggestion 30ft Docapole + Twist-On Fruit Picker Tool . You can also purchase it through Amazon. If you have as many fruit trees as I do its easy to leave the windfalls. That keeps everything out of my trees but deer love apple buds and readily eat them in the winter.


I like my new Zealand lemonade, Figs and Kumquats.

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Great minds think alike Clark, I already have a pole and basket just like that :grinning: I have not used it yet though as I don’t have enough fruit high up.


How has Satsuma been as far as brown rot and pc? I am removing a lot of stones this year. May do a rot and pc report for all the varieties I have tried over the years(est. 30 varieties). For the east coast growers.


That report would be much appreciated! I’m also removing more stone fruit trees. Going to let the good ones grow taller and graft onto them like crazy. Planning on building a portable platform to stand on while spraying the top half of the trees. Unfortunately, I’m still going to plant some more as well. I have a handful of rarer variety container trees that I can’t bring myself to let go to waste. I gotta see if they have some good attributes for my climate like I think they might. John Rivers nectarine, George IV peach, Wisconsin Balmer peach, Coe’s Transparent cherry, Newhaven peach, Harbrite peach and Rosemary Russet apple, maybe also a Raritan Rose peach and a PF24C peach. I’ll have to make a mound for each tree, probably will need 4-6 yards of topsoil total. I will take out a few more mature trees every year to make “room” (conceptual/effort, not physical room) for the new ones until they are producing. Probably will remove 2-3 cherries, 5-6 plums, 2-3 apples, and a few peaches. I have several duplicate trees, and I’ll save scion wood from most of the varieties I ax. I also will plant a few paw paws, but they’re “no harm - no foul.” Prima 1216, KSU Benson, KSU Chapell. Might possibly go nuts planting dozens of paw paws on another property we have, but it’s an hour away and has no water well yet. It’s on a hillside with much better draining soil than I currently have, so they probably will need watered.


(“ I need tall trees the deer can’t reach, and I need massive crops ripening at once so the other animals can take some but not clean me out”)
Yah ,that has always been my plan . For the most part this has worked for me , large , older, M111 size a good year the quantity is overwhelming , enough for everyone to eat .
But, I am not as agile as I used to be. 3 bad falls from a ladder in recent years has me ladder shy. Most trees need a good pruning, I hate looking at unkept trees, not sure how much ladder work I should be doing.
Planting more persimmons that I can pick from the ground, pawpaws I am trying to keep short .


Cliff England says his newly released Cardinal persimmon grafted onto the Native American rootstock can easily grow to 25-30’. Of course you would need to fence it off for a few years to get to the desired height, but this is supposed to be one of the best.
I ordered scions this winter so I don’t have a lot of experience, but my 2014 planted Chocolate is still only about 12’ high so it’s a good thing that deer do not come by often.

BTW we finally got our persimmon ripening thread open, thanks to Jays good knowledge on how to set up the Google form!

Kent, wa


How do you spray/bag large trees?


Satsuma is easy to grow. It is a bit prone to black knot but is very good in terms of rots and bugs.

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I have an extension on my spray wand for my backpack sprayer. Makes it easy to reach up to about 18’… For pruning I also have pole pruners so I rarely need a ladder there.

It is too bad that the shorter trees did not work but it is easier than I thought it would be to grow larger trees.


I did not see you mention any pluots. They don’t do well in your area?

I start to lean toward pluots more and more. Comparing to J plums, pluots are tastier and larger while the amount of work to get fruit is about the same to me.

No love for nectarines, either? I admit it is more work for me to get nectarines without rot or thrip damage but when I get them, they are much tastier (to me) than peaches. A lot of rain did not ruin their taste like it did to peaches, either.


I have a pole and basket I bought a few years ago. I actually used it this year on two of my apple trees. Fruit was to close to the inside of the tree so sing the pole worked out great.

The bigger challenge is not spraying, but thinning and to a lesser extent pruning. Will you skip thinning @scottfsmith?

Re: Pluots, I tried a bunch and decided I was not a big fan. The two I really liked the taste of were Flavor Supreme and Flavor King. FS did not set, and FK was a rot-fest. I did re-add FK a few years ago now that I am spraying synthetics and am going to see how it does (again). Even for FK and FS they are not at my personal flavor top, they lack “dark” flavors and are too much like candy. Satsuma has lots of interesting undertones. One time I gave some Satsuma jam to a friend and she asked if I had added clove to it (no, I didn’t!). Lavina has a cantaloupe-ish flavor.

In general I find all of the newer fruits tend to lack the darker flavors that I prefer. I got a few Salwey peaches recently, it has a much richer flavor than almost any other yellow-flesh peach. The flesh is too stringy which is probably why it is not common at all, but it was one of the most popular peaches 100+ years ago. On the apple front Reinette Clochard is one I had recently which was pretty amazing.

Re: nectarines, they are under peaches and yes I love them! I listed Sunglo which is my favorite, but most nectarines are good if you can get them to set and ripen without too many issues. Summer Beaut is currently my most productive nectarine and it was great this year. It can get a bit too soft when they get completely ripe so it is not my fave but I’m keeping it. Flavortop has also been really good for me.

@Ahmad yes thinning is where I am spending most of my ladder time. I can still do nearly all of the thinning (and picking) from the ground as I can reach up and grab a limb and pull it down to thin. But I will have to do more ladder thinning in the future. For pruning I have 6’ pole electronic pruners. I only need a ladder if I need to use my saw (I have a pole saw but it is clumsy to use).


I remember you praised 20th Century before, when does it ripen for you? Also, which other persimmons you have ripen by mid October?

Regarding astringent persimmons, do deer bother them before they are ripe? I knew non-astringent would probably be easy prey, but I’m really hoping my American, hybrid and astringent Kaki fruit aren’t as bothered by the deer as my apples and pears have been. But the animals do seem to surprise me every year.

The deer don’t bother the astringents too much until they are close to ripe. Yes the non-astringent ones are easy prey indeed. One problem is the deer can tolerate more astringency than people can so you really need to pick them a bit early and ripen inside, otherwise the deer with beat you to it.

@Ahmad I usually don’t start picking persimmons until November. They can be eaten earlier but they are not at optimal ripeness. I have not picked any yet but they all look nice and orange. The next two weeks are my usual persimmon picking time frame.

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