Recommendations for small home orchard?

Hello, Braintrust - calling for some recommendations from y’all…
Had a phone call from a neighbor down the road who’s wanting to plant a ‘small’ home orchard… a half-dozen apples, 2 or 3 pears, some peaches & cherries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries… he’s wanting recommendations from me.
I’ve grown all of these at one time or another; but I’m a minimal-inputs sort of guy…don’t really know what he’s got in mind, with regard to spraying, if at all.
I can handle pear, blueberry, and blackberry recommendations, but need help with the others.
Located just NW of Hopkinsville KY… about 80 miles NW of Nashville TN.

Early on, I had over 60 apples at one time… have abandoned almost all as not worth my time or trouble; about all I still have that I care for are MonArk and a few of the lunchbox/edible crab types. For the past 10 years or so, late-ripening varieties have had no chance at ripening, as the big brown European hornets eat them all up long before they ever get past August.
He was inquiring after the ‘disease-resistant’ varieties, and I reminded him that ‘disease resistant’ doesn’t also include ‘bug-resistant’. Other than GoldRush, I’ve never grown any of the disease-resistant varieties, can’t make any recommendations regarding flavor, productivity, etc.
He indicated he was mainly interested in flavor… don’t know if any of the disease-resistant varieties even fall into the ‘flavorful’ category.

Cherries… not even on my radar screen. I’ve had, and still have, Montmorency. It’s productive. No one picks it.
Peaches… planted some early on because the wife wanted them. They manage to escape spring freezes and set a crop maybe one year out of five… and even then, no one will pick them. They’ve almost all died out, and I have no intention of planting another one.

Pears; like I said, those I’m pretty comfortable with… but go ahead and tout your favorites.

Raspberries…again, not really my thing. Don’t care for (OK, I hate) the flavor, though I will eat a blackcap every now and then.

Rootstock choices… I’m old-school; most of my apples are on M7 or M9/M111; I’m presuming there are possibly better choices available now? Stonefruits… I’ve got no idea what to tell him to look for. I suspect space is not a constraint. Soils will be a good clay type, probably with a fairly high water table.

Looking forward to hearing everyone’s recommendations. Thanks, in advance.

Far be it for someone as inexperienced as me to offer advice, but I am so close to you geographically, I have grown several varieties of raspberries, AND had thread on my favorite one in which many experienced growers agreed that it is one of the best, so I strongly recommend Josephine Raspberries. At my place 60-70 miles from you, they grow twice the size of others and are much much sweeter and just have a superior flavor profile, IMHO. That’s my small contribution.

I hope you get lots of help because you’ve always been really helpful to me and others when it comes to Pecans (and other things). Good luck.

Liberty is a good disease resistant apple.Most people enjoy the sweet-tart flavor, and it can be fairly productive. Orlean’s Reinette has a good flavor, and has been untroubled by scab, mildew, or bacterial canker in my orchard. (We don’t have Fireblight, or Cedar Apple Rust over here.) Some people like the sturdiness of the freestanding rootstocks. G202 and M7 produce a tree about the same size 12-15 feet. M26 is good for well-draining soils, but can get collar rot in waterlogged sites (10-12 feet). Bud-9 is slightly smaller than M26. Both should have support for the rest of their lives. G41 produces a tree that is resistant to replant disease and phytopthora root rot, at about the same size as Bud-9. M27 makes a small tree. Some people like these for the ease of harvesting, but they also require support. Cummins Nursery sells the Geneva series rootstocks. The others are available at Raintree Nursery, and Burnt Ridge Nursery. Hope this helps. Casey

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For cherries I find the Black Gold and White Gold are more reliable than many. Peaches are all pretty good and there are a great many varieties out there so its hard to track down a particular one. But I would say Ernies Choice and Winblo are two good ones I grow which are fairly easy to find. I have a similar opinion on blueberries, but get some of the southern high bush along with northern high bush to spread out the harvest a bit.

For apples those hornets can be dealt with using a couple traps. Growing apples are already work so if he isn’t up for the traps its a sign he probably should pick something else to grow. The advantage of later apples is they get fewer rots so overall I find them less work for the quality of harvest, and they also can keep you in apples most of the winter. Some relatively easy to find apples that are reliable and tasty include Pristine, Enterprise, Gala, Suncrisp, GoldRush, Newtown Pippin, and Rubinette.

Re: rootstocks, M7 and MM111 are still perfectly good rootstocks. The newer Geneva stocks are better but not by enough to make it a requirement to get. Personally I have dozens of different rootstocks and am not super adverse to any one of them. G16 is a non-starter if you like top working or adding varieties, I killed many of mine by virus-infected scions. Sand cherry is an inferior stock for plums (and doesn’t seem to be used much any more for that reason).

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I’ve heard you mention this many times Lucky, and it always disappoints me to hear you say that. I’ve often thought of your “not worth the space they occupy” phrase and makes me wonder why your still interested when you hold such a low opinion of apple growing, and now seemingly fruit growing in general. I often think of you saying that. I hope I don’t feel the same way in the future, but maybe one day I’ll not enjoy it or be rewarded in such a way as to make it worthwhile to me. I sure hope that doesn’t happen, because if it does, I’ll have then, most likely, given up on pretty much everything.
I think I’ve been very lucky, as I’m super pleased with the ease of growing and production of all fruit, save for peaches and apricots, and I never really cared about apricots in the first place.

I don’t feel as though I could offer any apple suggestions that could in any way best any idea that you might have. Problem is, if I were that neighbor of yours, I think talking to you would probably squash any hopes I had for apple growing. Hope he has better luck than you apparently did.
I feel strongly that a person’s willingness to spray is key. Some may disagree, but to me, if someone isn’t willing to spray at all, it probably isn’t a worthwhile venture imo. In other words, spraying is, to me, the key to success and the rewards that success offers.

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I was hesitant to offer recommendations. As you know from your own experiences, there are few fruits which can be grown in hot humid climates w/o much management.

As Cityman mentioned rasp. are an option, but SWD is becoming more prevalent. Brambles used to be a no spray fruit here. Now they are one of the most intensively sprayed in order to produce worm free fruit. However, w/ a small planting, and few other fruits around, your neighbor may be able to grow brambles spray free.

I agree w/ Scott about peaches. There are a good many varieties out there. Again it’s just tough to recommend something which would possibly produce anything in a hot humid climate with no spray. Something which may be close to fitting the bill might be Flat Wonderful. It’s generally available from Gurneys/Henry Fields, and has decent flavor. It doesn’t set much of a crop, so needs little thinning. It ripens fairly early, so may have some chance of avoiding internal feeding grubs. I spray my trees, but have observed an unsprayed/unmanaged Flat Wonderful tree from some friends and it seems to do better than other unmanaged peach trees I’ve observed.

One disadvantage of the tree is that it’s vigor is higher than that of most other peach trees, and so must be aggressively pruned. If unpruned, the tree will quickly become 20 feet tall.

Of course you know this, but some people just expect too much. They live in a hot, humid climate, lots of rain, crawling with insects and want typical home orchard they can pick fruit from all summer, with no care.

Again, not telling you anything new, but it sort of reminds me of the teenager who wants a dream job making 100k/year playing video games. I would guess it doesn’t exist, but it actually does. However, it’s very very rare. Everyone would like to think they are the lucky exception, but 99.9% aren’t. I wouldn’t bet against those odds.

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Hi lucky. If you like early apples I would definitely try Pristine. it is a bright yellow, sweet, bit of tartness, apple. It is very crisp and juicy. Eaten fresh of the tree it is great and makes superb applesauce. It was one of the first trees I researched and planted now, ten years ago. I bought it from Raintree on semidwarf rootstock and keep it at nine feet tall. It is very disease resistant being a Cornell-Purdue apple of merit. Its a beaut and produces well every year.


Very nice Mrs. G! Such looong stems!

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am a lazy gardener and a no-spray fruit-grower, and would strongly recommend a chico jujube for ky.

will likely give you fruits(taste like super-sweet apples) on first year of planting, and will likely do so for hundreds of years-- maybe even a thousand with no pesticides(it is practically disease-free and bug-free when grown in usa) and require 50% less water than you’d need to grow an apple tree of the same size. I doubt you’d even need to water it in ky, as the jujube is drought-resistant, and seem to bear sweeter fruits when drying out in between waterings
juju trees are relatively small trees, and they are naturally self-pruning, and fruit size of mature trees does not seem to be affected by fruit numbers…so no need for flower or fruit thinning either. It is also wise to late frosts, leafing out late and flowering repeatedly the entire summer, should the early blooms be damaged by frost

only work you need to do is getting rid of watersprouts, much like you would with apples. But could always dig them up and use as rootstock and sell for 35$ a pop. The science of juju rootstock is as basic as sesame street–there’s no such thing as susceptibility or shortened longevity issues.

fruits are several-fold more nutritious than apples, even has more vitamin c than oranges and kiwis! Good news is that, contrary to accounts about jujus in general-- those who’ve tried this variety for the first time will come back for more(we have 20+ varieties)
excellent for kids no doubt, being pesticide-free. Also good for those who like sweets, since ripe fruits will dry into dates without the need for desiccator or preservatives. Fresh fruits are at least 25Brix, which translates into pure sugar when dried.

chico jujube is as american a creation as honeycrisp, btw, and is probably the only prime cultivar currently available online. There are other excellent juju varieties with higher brix or uniquely flavored, but still rare or seldom available.

once your neighbor feels the ‘quick success’ with jujubes, then he/she may start delving into the high-maintenance(and relatively short-lived) fruit crops. And should your neighbor get tired of the high maintenance fruit trees, or if fruit trees still die despite the high maintenance, the jujube trees will still be there.
likely several human generations down the road…


Very nice Mrs.

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Personally I would avoid Chico jujube in the eastern US. It is widely known as difficult to fruit. I tried for ten years and got zero on it and have heard many other similar stories. Honey Jar on the other hand…

have to say it is still worth trying imo, since it seems to be the only excellent cultivar(taste-wise) available online for the rest of 2016…
honeyjar is definitely a good variety and more promising in terms of productivity regardless of geographic area being grown in, but is sold out, expectedly… If chico will not be fruitful, hj and other ‘more cosmopolitan’ jujus may just be grafted onto it.

the ‘regular’ li is also pretty good and the most reliable in productivity across the continental usa, and currently still available at some nurseries. Unlike other jujus, li also seems to produce better tasting fruits in cooler weather.

Thanks, guys & gals. keep the recommendations coming.
I’m gonna try to visit with the neighbor this weekend to get a better feel for what they’re wanting to try
I’ve ‘known’ them for years…his wife taught all 4 of our kids in elementary school, and one son is a veterinarian,so there’s that link to me & the wife, as well.
Don’t know how into ‘unusual’ fruits like jujube, persimmon, etc. they may be - if at all. He was asking specifically about apples, pears, peaches, cherries, but also mentioned blackberries/raspberries.

Pears… he was talking mostly Euro types, seemed not so sure about whether they like Asians or not… of course, I LOVE Chojuro, so I recommended that; I was thinking for Euro types, Warren and Ayers may be best for this area. I could build him a Warren, Chorjuro and Tennosui in short order on volunteer callery seedlings, but would have to hit someone up for some Ayers scionwood. 'course, I’m also gonna recommend him planting a bombproof Keiffer somewhere on the farm!
Any thoughts from you pear affectionados?

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Lives up to the name. Gorgeous apples MG!

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I’ve got no inclination to spray. Period. I know apples are gonna inevitably be aesthetically unpleasing, given that.
I chose poorly, knowing no better at the time, on many of the varieties I planted.

When the kids were younger… time spent in the orchard or nursery got me nothing but grief from the spouse, although she’s the one who pushed me into planting the orchard (and it quickly became an obsession!) .
Now that the kids are grown and gone… I still have too many more pressing matters to deal with to dedicate much time to the orchard… and other than blueberries and pecans, when the kids do come home, they don’t really care for any of the other fruits. It’s kind of saddening, in a way. Sometimes I consider re-fencing it and just letting the cows/horses have those 3-4 acres back.

As a fat old man… I don’t need all that sugar, anyway!

pears would be a good bet, being relatively long-lived and might get by with no spraying-- at least here in las vegas.

Pears are No-spray here, as well, juju - duh! I don’t spray! - and they’re mostly perfect.
Appleseed… while I’ve mostly abandoned my apples, I still have over 30 pear varieties, probably that many persimmons (though I’ve lost IDs on most of them), and easily 30-40 (each) hickory and pecan varieties grafted & growing. I just moved farther away from the apples as time went by.

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Lucky, I’ll be a volunteer kid for you and come eat your other fruits with delight. Then I’ll tell you how delicious they are.

well good for you!
something your neighbor may look forward to, since the general consensus among many who posted their thoughts here(and i agree with them) is that many common fruit trees grown in your locale will require some spraying.

I would stick with the tried and true varieties like Kieffer and duchesse d’angouleme. If you plant those you can’t go wrong. Why anything else? Douglas and the harrows might be worth consideration. No or low spray goal is achievable with those choices.