Orchard in Yecora, Mexico

Hi everyone, I’m Frank, I’m from Mexico.
I’m seeking advice on fruit growing, my wife’s family has a 173 acres property in Yecora, Sonora, we call them Cabañas Los Manzanos, because it has 4 cabins which are rented to the public (https://goo.gl/maps/wNwbAQsZv9F2).

My wife’s grandfather planted apple, pear, peach and nut trees, but his family didn’t take care of the orchard at all.

So now, most of the apple trees are dried, or partially dried, the nut trees died, there are some pear tree standing and there’s only one peach tree left.

The orchard has pine trees growing in between, and new plants are growing at the base, which I believe can be transplanted.

I want to revive the orchard, to be able to maintain the cabins, I really love this place and the cabins are deteriorating and since there are like 7 different owners, most of them don’t want to invest in the maintenance.

So I figure I can make it profitable to keep the place in good conditions, like I say, I want to revive the orchard, apples, pears, maybe peaches, and since we have a forest, I’d like to try some mushroom growing and some cattle, at least 10 so that we can make organic cheese to sell.

I have some pictures, hope you can take a look at them and give me some hints on what can be the problem, just click on the picture and it will take you the the album.


Thanks for your time…

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Welcome to the forum, Frank.

I’m going to leave the real advice giving up to others who know more than I do. To my not-well-trained eye, it looks like you have much work ahead of you in order to rebuild an orchard. You may have rootstocks worth grafting to, but most of the fruiting parts of the orchard trees in the photos looked dead to me. There are other people who look at photos better than I do, though. Some of them may see more hope and possibilities than I saw. Even if you can’t save the trees, this may be an opportunity for you to plant varieties that you would like to grow that do well in your area.

Hi Muddy, I appreciate your honest reply.

I think I can manage to salvage part of it, but I need to start with something, and try to make some cash ASAP, at least so that it won’t cost me.

I believe the rootstocks look good, what is the procedure, plant them in a pot and let them grow for a few months and then plant them back into the orchard?

Any ideas on how to treat the fungus? Which sort of fungicide to use?

I know I have to cut away all of the dried branches.

I will take away all of the pine trees, can they be transplanted? I ask because of the size.

Only small pine trees can usually be transplanted easily – maybe up to 3-4 ft. They have very long taproots that extend deep into the ground which usually break when you try to pull them out of the ground.

The trees pictured are way too far gone to be of any use in developing an orchard. You’d be way better off stating over with new trees or rootstocks. You’d also need irrigation, weed control, disease and insect control, a fence to keep out deer and other animals, etc. In other words if you want an orchard you need lots of cash to invest. The return if any would be many years down the road.

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If the rootstock looks good, leave them in the ground and graft directly on them. You’ll probably want to cut the stock to a single trunk and used rind/bark grafting. Scions can be obtained cheaply or for free – that’s your cheapest option.

Frank, just in case you didn’t already know, when people say “rootstock” they are talking about the lowest part of the tree and the roots that come from that. In many fruit trees the rootstock is a different variety of tree from the fruiting part. If any of those mature rootstocks are salvageable, you can get fruit more quickly by grafting new varieties onto them because they already have a large root system to help the scions grow faster. You get fruit much more quickly that way.

You could probably use the suckers, those new growths coming up straight from the roots, as rootstocks to create even more trees. There are members here who can describe their methods of doing that.

Peach trees don’t live as long as apple trees, but if any of yours are making suckers from the root base, you might be able to use some to graft onto in order to create more peach trees. Again, I will leave it to those who know more to describe how to best remove them from the mother tree.

@applenut is an expert on growing apples in hot regions. If your orchard is in a hot area, he may have valuable advice on what types will do well and how to manage them.

When I hear ‘Sonora’, I think of the Sonora Desert. From the green look of all that grass, you get more rain there than I do in the summer. So, I think you are probably not in the desert part of the state. If one those first photos in your album is the start of Spanish moss, then you also have more humidity than I would have expected.

Are you thinking of recreating the orchard in order to sell fruit, or is your goal more to create an atmosphere for the cabin rental business, and have the pleasure of harvesting some fruit, too?

good luck on your venture. Sad to hear conventional fruit trees are not doing too well in your area. And surely you are aware-- that misery loves company! Many folks here in usa(myself included) could attest to the challenges of growing conventional species in our respective locales. For many outside of california, it has become an expensive and high maintenance hobby. There is just no assuming the plant-it-and-forget-about-it stance of, well, the lucky californians. Worse is that growing conventional trees is no longer something many of today’s youth would care to inherit, as to them it is more of a costly chore, or a short-lived and perennially problematic fad, when they could delve in more ‘fulfilling endeavors’ on their smartphones… That said, i hope you and your wife won’t feel you inherited the same exact thing, and that hoping it will be likewise with your kids and grandkids when they inherit it…

if you are open to try other fruit trees, well, not sure if you’ve grown chinese jujubes or persian/pakistani mulberries in temperate mexico, or if these are even available at nurseries there. They are worth trying if you’re looking for drought tolerant fruit trees, and if beginning to feel that conventional fruits are no longer labor or cost-effective, or too short-lived and needy of pesticides.
if you find pomegranates and figs palatable, they’re also relatively worry-free options if your winters don’t get too cold.

That country probably gets about 20 inches of rain per year and is likely about 5000-6000ft elevation in the mountains. There are high elevation orchards in Mexico but they generally suffer from freezes in spring and hail in summer.

The trees have died because they don’t get enough water. There are long periods of drought. At the very least the trees would need to be heavily mulched to reduce competition from grass and other vegetation.

Growing a few trees to add ambiance to the cabins would be way easier than growing for profit.

The country around High Rolls NM looks similar. That’s actually decent fruit country but has extremely good air drainage. It’s a straight drop 3000ft down in about 8 miles.

Wiki says 35 inches of rain per yr with most of that in July-Sept monsoon season. Winters are mild 63/45F which sets fruit trees up for spring freezes, record low in May of 23F.

Ok, gsims1997, so your advice would be to dispose of the taller trees?

I know you have likely thought of this already but agave and nopal would be beautiful and extremely productive. One nopal cactus would produce enough fruit to fill a 5 gallon bucket and petals to eat for a very long time. I think pears are a great idea as well!

The pine trees? Yes, unless you have a backhoe at your disposal – but it probably isn’t worth the effort regardless.

Again thanks Muddy, so you say to use the rootstock:
_DSC0836 by Frank Clement, on Flickr

Cut most of the tree and graft new varieties into it? the new growths, you mean insert them into the rootstock? or plant them elsewhere so that new trees grow from them?

jujubemulberry, thanks, that’s a good idea for where I live, that orchard is in Yecora, up in the Sierra Madre, a very different weather than what I have in Navojoa, just the other day we had 109F. We are at 65 feet above the sea level and it gets very humid here. But I’m open to new ideas, I come from a farming family, my dad grows mostly wheat, beans, safflower, chickpea, and sometimes corn.

It would be a very good idea to find new markets. Do you gro jujubes for a living or self consumption? what sort of market does it have?

Thanks for your reply fruitnut, we do have frost during those seasons and hail during the summer, specially in August.

We have 2 small dams, honestly don’t know the capacity, and there’s also a well, so there’s a water source, but I can’t tell if the well is suited for watering the trees.

As far as I know, most of the damage to the plants, come from abandonment, no one took care of it.

The damage is likely during drought periods. Your climate is similar to mine. Too warm in winter means there is inadequate chilling for high chill fruits. But low chill fruits start growing too early and are frozen out. Way too dry in spring followed by too much rain in late summer. The hail doesn’t help anything. That’s just like here only your climate looks even more extreme. 65% of your rain comes in late summer. The best fruit climates get nearly no rain in summer.

I’m sorry but I think those trees are too far gone to be useful. You can buy a rootstock for a few dollars. That gets you started with healthy roots not some stump filled with rotted wood. You can try to use what you’ve got to graft onto. But to get more growth than what’s there now the trees need irrigation and/or heavy mulching to reduce competition for water.

i don’t grow our jujus and mulbs for a living, at least not yet. Although have been giving trees/budwood away to friends and family who already like them, and even those who didn’t(and that’s past tense :slight_smile: ) speak highly of them. The best varieties being sold as trees are just not easily available yet, and if ever available, not in large enough amounts for commercial purposes. Fruits sold are usually priced 2-3$/lb here, but only in asian markets. Moreover, the fruits being sold are of the common varieties, so not the best, but still sell well not sure why.

quoting the above, jujus would be fruitful trees for your locale. You probably will never have to water your trees ever again once they reach tree-size(in just a few years), and will be very fruitful even with weeds at their feet.*if at least one apple/peach or pear tree survived the droughts there for many years, jujus will surely fluorish.
like mulberries, jujus are somewhat wise to late frosts, often leafing out late, and since jujus continuously bear flowers-- hence fruits, the entire growing season. Best of all is that jujus are generally more nutritious than pears, apples and peaches, and jujube trees could live and be productive for a millennium with no need for pesticides.[quote=“fruitnut, post:15, topic:6716”]
Too warm in winter means there is inadequate chilling for high chill fruits. But low chill fruits start growing too early and are frozen out.

and additionally for the above quote, jujus will fruit plenty even with just 150 hrs chill time.

my thoughts exactly! And considering the huge mexican populace and your difficulties in logistics and climate conditions, jujubes may be the ticket to feeding millions with nutritious fruits that were grown with little water, labor, and pesticides(if any needed).

i am so excited in fact, was wondering if could ship a small specimen to your farm in mexico, if mexican quarantine procedures are reasonably feasible. You could just order wild-type seeds from ebay, sprout them, then use them as rootstock for the future twigs your lone juju will grow…

am sure you’ve heard about tropical mexico(even guatemala) being in the limelight recently as a sky-is-the-limit hotbed for jackfruit, rambutan, and mango farming, so now hoping someone like you would be the first to make temperate mexico as a hotbed for totally organic and water-wise juju farms…

It’s hard to see in all the grass, but if the shoots are coming from a few inches away from the original tree (as opposed to directly connected), they may have their own roots. If that is the case, you could transplant them and make a row. From that point, I’d let them establish for a season (with mulch and supplemental water as needed) and graft them during the late winter. As FN says, rootstocks only cost a few dollars each. But, there is something to be said for “free”, though you’ll probably get a faster start by buying an already grafted larger tree (Trees of Antiquity has great trees).

Of course, this doesn’t really touch on whether it is a good idea to grow a particular fruit. FN will know a lot more than me on that count. From the map, I’m guessing that you are zone 8B, which would be good for figs and Poms, though I don’t know if the late frosts would have an impact. Jujubes would seem ideal, as they handle hot dry conditions well and bloom very late to avoid the spring freezes. Mine are still blooming now in late July, though I have some small fruit on it as well. If your season is long enough, maybe you would get two harvests per year.

Lots of opinions, and I’m really grateful for your responses.

I live by the coast, just a a few miles away, this orchard is up in Sierra Madre Occidental, me are talking of a 4 hr drive there from where I’m currently living. By the coast would be a great idea, for trees with little need of water, there’s lots of land, can’t say the same about water.

Getting back to the orchard, I guess I have to start with something, so I’m guessing first of all would be cleaning up the orchard area, take care of those pine trees, remove the grass, inspect roots, take out all of the dried out trees, carefully inspect the other remaining trees, maybe run some tests grafting any still living rootstock and transplanting the new shoots.

Over by Mesa del Campanero (https://goo.gl/maps/JhCvpvpcivE2) they have apple and other fruit trees, I’m sure I can get new rootstock there, as well as some tips.

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[quote=“jujubemulberry, post:16, topic:6716”]
like mulberries, jujus are somewhat wise to late frosts, often leafing out late, and since jujus continuously bear flowers-- hence fruits, the entire growing season. [/quote]

My jujube trees were frozen back here two yrs in a row. Fruit loss and severe damage to new growth. It even killed one tree. This is an April freeze I’m talking about. They don’t bloom late enough for my climate and Frank’s is even worse. And I have a hard time believing that 8-10 inches of rain a month, Frank’s ave July and August, during harvest would be helpful. My Honey Jars cracked sometimes after rains. Furthermore jujube can be a thorny mess especially seedlings. There are residential lots here in Alpine covered by seedling jujube and you don’t want to go near the things.

Mulberries also get frozen back here virtually every yr. The seedless things grow right back. Stuff with good fruit usually ends up dead.

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I have April freezes too, but it’s a lot more expected here, and things aren’t as far along as they will be for you. I’m not sure what blooms later than jujube. Maybe persimmons? And yes, I bet that 10" could cause some cracking. But, I think you’ve got a better shot with jujubes than apples, peaches, etc. How do Figs and Poms do outside for you?

I can imagine. If you don’t want to worry about mowing the suckers, maybe Jack’s (ForestandFarm) approach would work better- planting on own roots, though it is harder to find them.