Kansas fruit varieties

Hi all, I have spent a little time on this site reading and must say what a wealth of information. I am in the process of picking out around 12 to 15 fruit trees each year for the next 3 years and looking for some advice on variety and rootstock. I am leaning towards pear, apricot, and plum this year followed by cherry and peach next year. I don’t have a huge piece of land to work with, so I am leaning towards more dwarfing varieties where I can space fairly close and try several varieties. Thanks in advance to anyone willing to help me out!

These pears are spray free to nearly spray free:
Harrow Sweet
Comtesse Clara Frijs
Harrow Delight
Charles Harris
Drippin’ Honey

List came from @clarkinks whom is thee wealth of pear information on this forum.

You may add Magness to this list and spray copper in the spring while dormant and copper again in the fall while dormant. I’ve eaten Magness & it’s terrific.

You might about persimmons, too. They are so delicious and can easily be maintained at any size. ‘Prok’ is a no-brainer. You don’t need another for pollination, either. And in your climate (hardier than mine) you may consider Rosseyanka or Nikita’s Gift. Clark should be able to tell you if Nikita’s Gift is hardy in central Kansas.

Here is a pollination chart I made for pears from scionwood I received and grafted last year which includes the pears mentioned above.



I am in Pennsylvania (zone 6), but I am similar in that I started some trees on a small plot of land a couple years ago. I have apples, Asian and European pears, peaches, tart cherries, and apricots (plus grapes and berries). In my early assessment, I like peaches because you have a high amount of vigor and some fruit in a relatively short period of time. On the downside, they are labor intensive between spraying and pruning. Apples and Asian pears were productive early on too (but the squirrels took my fruit this year) and the maintenance was a bit less than peaches. Apricots and cherries have not yielded yet, but many people have expressed frustrations with early death of apricot trees (it is a challenge I was willing to accept). I would be careful with sweet cherries between rots, splits, and bird pressure; but maybe you have less moisture to contend with in KS. I started with a synthetic spray schedule and will attempt to dial it back as much as fungi and bugs will allow. Having low/no spray trees is a good idea in my book.

Thanks so much for helping me out. I will add a couple of these persimmons to my list for this year and give them a try. I have never ate one before, but it sounds like they are great. I sure hope clarkinks, olpea, and other Kansans or surrounding states add to this. I have read some of their older posts and it sure seems like they are very knowledgeable about Kansas fruit. Thanks again

Thank you very much for replying to my post. I know from talking to extension agents in my area that sweet cherries are impossible to grow. I kind of see this as a challenge and have to give them a try regardless. There was a huge sweet cherry tree about an hour west of me that I picked from all the time growing up when I mowed the peoples lawn. Not sure if it is still there, but it sure was a treat, this gives me hope that it is possible.

Although I do not have much room remaining, I would like to get some Juneberry, American Persimmon, Jujube, Mulberry, and/or Pawpaw as low/no spray fruit. I am not sure that I would trade any of my current fruit for them, however.

I am also a new member here at GrowingFruit. I live outside Topeka and have been working on a garden/orchard for the last four years. Started with compacted bare yellow clay subsoil where excavated dirt for a basement was spread. An area about 140’x 80’ is my main focus and with multiple loads of horse manure and wood chips (along with lesser amounts of coffee grounds and spoiled hay) it is coming along.
Anyway, I just want to throw in my experience with cherries. Even planting on mounds, I have had no luck with Lapins, North Star, or Stella. All have died due to some root problem (I think) On the other hand, Nanking, Jan, Joel, and Carmine are doing fine. No fruit yet, though the Nankings bloomed profusely this year before being frozen by an April frost. I’d love to hear of others doing well with tree cherries, though. I’m hoping to expand my cherries with some of the U of Saskatchewan varieties i 2020, if not this coming spring. Sounds like I share some sensibilities with ZombieFruit-- we can compare notes later.
Anyway, thank you fellow Kansan ctduckhunter for inspiring me to sign up and thanks to the rest of you for allowing me into this gathering.


Welcome, Kansans! I’m going to tag @clarkinks and @Olpea who are from Kansas and hopefully will chime in here. Kansas has some unique conditions for fruit growing with more radical temperature and rainfall swings than the rest of us. I’m pretty sure that apricot and Japanese plum are quite difficult due to late freezes, but Euro plums can do better.

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Thanks all. I live in Chapman ks, so I’m only an hour west of you. I lucked out on the ground I’m planting on, it is a 3/4 acre lot on some river bottom ground. Now, we will see how well fruit trees grow on it. This is a great forum. Ive learned something on about every single post I’ve read. I have some ideas on varieties from reading other posts, but rootstocks that grow well with my soils have me scratching my head. Not sure if it is better to go with dwarfing rootstocks in my soil or more standard type stock and prune heavy to keep fruit species/varieties manageable.

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I have nankings here in south west Missouri and I have struggled getting a crop due to their early bloom. Here they are last march


I figured that much further south they would do okay. Sorry to hear of your crop loss. I keep hearing that apricots are iffy because of early bloom/ late frost, too. I’ve planted five in my orchard and am hoping this will be the year they bloom and give fruit. We’ll see.
I got my start gardening in Italy years ago when I was stationed in Naples, really got the bug while going to school in Austin and then basically tried to recreate where I’d lived before on my own small piece of property in LA (and just about every place I worked and my friends’ houses) That was fun and my trees are spread from the beach to the mountains. Now, I’m trying to plant here on my native soil for my kids and nieces and nephews and their kids. Anyway, thanks for the reply and God bless you and yours-- and your trees!

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Oh that’s how fruit growing goes. I really like the tart cherry flavor of nankings, I grew them from seed from some bushes I planted at my parents house when I was just a kid. I am looking forward to some cherries from my Juliet cherry I planted a couple of years ago. It blooms much later than the nankings. I have seen nankings start to bloom in late February here and they have no chance of fruiting at that point. I may replace them with romance cherries eventually.


Hello fellow Kansans (although I also consider myself a Missourian too, since I was born there).

Looks like we are all pretty much on the same latitude. Clark is around Lawrence and I’m south of Overland Park (and about 3 miles from the MO line).

Just a few thoughts. You are right to be suspicious of apricots. I won’t say you will never get a crop of apricots, but consider it rare. I am currently trialing a very late blooming apricot and it still hasn’t produced for me. I did get some apricots of some earlier blooming varieties about 8 years ago, but I eventually pulled all of them out. If space is limited for you, don’t waste it with apricots.

Same thing with sweet cherries. They bloom so early, keep your expectations very low. They are prone to canker in our climate and the cherries crack in rain (although some sweet cherries are more crack resistant that others.)

Duck hunter,

It might have been a sweet cherry tree, but sometimes there are some pretty sweet tart cherry tree trees. I know a guy who lives about a mile from me who had a couple tart cherry trees which had very sweet fruit. The trees were old and died before I had a chance to graft them. Sweet cherries have a sort of distinctive foliage from tart cherries and takes some experience to distinguish the two. Generally speaking, sweet cherries will come off the tree with the stem attached, whereas tart cherries won’t. Again it’s certainly possible it was a sweet cherry, but if it was by itself, it probably wasn’t because most sweet cherries are pretty finicky about their pollination requirements (only certain sweet cherry trees will pollinate other sweet cherry trees).

There are some good tart cherries which do well in KS. I’ve grown 4 different varieties of tart cherries and they’ve all done well. I seen other folks in KS who had also done well with other varieties of tart cherries.

The rootstock for tart cherries matters. Mahaleb rootstock is not very water tolerant, whereas Mazzard and Colt are. I’m less familiar with dwarf tart cherry rootstocks like Gisela.

If you are going to invest in plums, I would mostly recommend European plums. They bloom later and taste good. They take longer to get into production than Asian plums, but the production is generally more regular after they start producing.

I have raised quite a few Asian plums as well as European plums. One of the more reliable Asian plums for me was Shiro (although it seemed to get a lot of black knot - a disease which affects some plums). Lots of reliable Euro plums, out there, which taste good.

My personal opinion is that I would avoid dwarf trees. I understand the space limitations, but trees dwarfed from rootstocks generally take considerably more management, are shorter lived, and are a more fragile tree in general. For apples and pears, you might consider semi-dwarfs if space is an issue. Semi-dwarf pome fruits and standard stone fruits can be kept to a reasonable size by aggressive pruning.


Thanks for the advice olpea, much appreciated! I’m going to check into that cherry tree next time I go by there. It was definitely a sweet though and by itself next to some redbuds. It had yellow/blush colored big cherries. 1995/96 was probably the last time I picked from it. I know nothing about grafting, but it would be a good one if it is still there. I have some gift certificates to use from Stark brothers for part of my trees, but hate not knowing what those rootstocks are. I guess I will roll the dice and just try some. I sure appreciate everyone adding to this post and sharing their knowledge.

I have had very poor results growing Apricot, plum and cherry in KS. @clarkinks has good luck growing Carmine Jewel sour cherry which is a bush cherry. Peachs produce well every second or third year here. Pears do well here. Kieffer is probably the most disease resistant pear you could plant in KS. There are some semi dwarf pear rootstocks. As @Barkslip said Persimmons are a great choice. Nikita’s Gift is hardy here. I would suggest you consider Paw Paws and Jujube as they don’t require spraying. Also consider growing small fruit like Blackberry. Elderberry, current or Autumn Olive.

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Most things have already been said but I will mention reliance peach which does well for me here in Kansas. The fruits such as the pears @Barkslip mentioned, persimmons e.g. early golden, fruit @39thparallel mentioned such as jujubes e.g. Li, mulberries e.g. Illinois everbearing, autumn olive, black raspberry, blackberry, grapes e.g. concord, carmine Jewell cherry etc. Will do well for you. If you must grow apples they can do well but its very site specific and i highly recommend the mm111 rootstock. My apples are on again off again but i love it on the years they are on because they are exceptional. I would forget apricot, kiwi etc. Right now because they are mostly a waste of space. I grow apricots that produce so seldom i consider them as ornamental. For pears i like callery and bet rootstock but do use some ohxf rootstocks because they produce fruit faster. @Olpea has some great information on growing fruit in nearby Kansas city / kansas city Missori area. As close as I am to Lawrence my climate is very different and I think @39thparallel and @Olpea can give some better advice on river bottom growing. My location is open plains so the temperatures are very extreme eg. windy, hot, cold, dry etc. . @39thparallel grows kiwi in river bottom ground and keeps them on drip irrigation whereas in my opinion kiwi are more trouble than they are worth. @Derby42 is in nearby Missouri and grows Juliet as he mentioned which is a carmine Jewell relative and part of the romance series of cherries so I have no doubt it’s a winner.


Thanks @clarkinks, I saw where you mentioned grapes and blackberries. I’m not interested in wine grapes, but curious what varieties of table grapes and blackberries have done the best for you. Thanks for the help

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I grow heirloom blackberries primarily though prime ark 45 and prime ark freedom both seem excellent in my trials. If you want seedless table grapes I would highly recommend red Candice and pink reliance though they are not overly easy to grow in this area. Blackrot is a problem for most grapes. I like to grow seeded juice grapes such as concord, seedless concord (has seeds), mars, Glenora, etc… Catawba, marquis,Niagara etc I’ve had mixed results with. @tonyOmahaz5 lives in nearby Omaha may have other suggestions as well for additional fruits.

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Duck hunter,

You might try calling Starks. They should be able to tell you what rootstocks they are using for the trees you are interested in.

You are probably aware, peaches are a good bet in KS. Just make sure the ground drains well, or put your peaches up in some type of raised planting.

I’ve spent some time out in Rock Springs. so I think I have a pretty good idea of the area. It’s drier there than here, which is good for you. If your river bottom ground is south of the river, you might have the added benefit of some temperature buffering from the river.

Winters can be a little harsher the farther west in KS you go, so as Clark mentioned you might stick with more hardy peach varieties.



Something else you could try as well would be to collect a bunch of seeds from it and try growing seedlings from those. (Of course you may not be interested in these kinds of experiments.)

While they won’t be identical to the mother tree of course, stone fruit seedlings tend to more like their mother tree than apples, for example.

If you let the seedlings grow big enough to start fruiting, you could pick the best ones and grow more of those via grafted trees.

Just something to think about…

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