My theory on shade growing fruit trees and bushes

I found several threads on shade tolerant fruit but they were slightly different than what I am thinking here. I’ve noticed a few variables on what fruits for me in the shade.

The basic goal of most plants is to reach sexual maturity and their strategies to get there can very depending on where they originated from and their current situation.

What is creating the shade?

Deciduous forest
There is an opportunity for shrubs / trees that leaf early to gain a bit of stored late winter / early spring sunlight. For example, honeyberries, currents, raspberries all leaf out well before my forest does. This is not the most intense sunlight but it is getting more than it would under an evergreen forest. This will also be a fungal dominated soil, which is much more suited to support woody plants.

An evergreen forest?
This can be the hardest. Woody plants will grow great here but often not fruit well. They will grow so well because they are stretching to find more sun. This can be an advantage if you want to get a plant up to replace existing forest. For example, I’ve grown the same fig in sun and shade and the one in shade will grow at an amazing rate where the full sun fig is only putting on half or less the growth. It doesn’t need to find the sun to support it’s fruiting desires. This also works for nut trees. They want to reach the canopy quickly to gain access to the sun. My black walnuts in the forest grow 2 - 3 times faster than the full sun walnuts.

A house or fence?
Often these areas will be largely herbaceous plants (grass, green weeds ect.). These will have a young ecosystem without the old topsoil and that will be a bacteria dominated soil. As it stands, it will mostly support other herbaceous plants. Woody plants will grow but not to the best of their ability. If you want to convert it to support more of a woody plant, change the soil chemistry to be more fungal dominated by adding wood chips. This will help it have a better system to support it and be more the expected environment. Otherwise, you can look at non-woody plants that like that bacterial environment such as kale, Lettice and other leafy veggies. This environment will also hold water the worst naturally which correct watering is a necessity in fruiting.

Because the UV rays of the sun are not hitting the plants as much to kill the non-beneficial bacteria that wants eat the leaves of the plants, they will often be more susceptible to disease so soil health and hospitality to the plant will be more important that usual.

There are a few exceptions like pawpaw that have large leaves to collect the dappled light but still wants a fungal dominated soil. If you are selecting a variety of other fruit for the shade, you may want leaf size and color to be a consideration. Green leaves are more efficient at collecting light than variegated or burgundy leaves and the larger the leaves the better.

Hope this helps someone out there.