Regional climate and fruit growing thread


#1

Okay. I mentioned in the introduction to the forum thread, while responding to @Steve333 and @Oepfeli, that I should form a new one. This thread will enable folks to compare notes between other members on here about what fruits and varieties of said fruits work and don’t work in their particular region/climate zone/sunset climate zone etc.

For example, I have found in my location, zone 6b in NE Kentucky, that I have had an issue with raspberries and blueberries getting established. Blackberries and strawberries do very well. Considering fruit trees, I have apples, pears, peaches and pluots. But, mine are still relatively young, and not all have bore fruit, so I can’t give a complete report on those.

Of course there might be someone close to me that can grow blue and raspberries very well. So, it could be I’m doing it wrong, but it could also be that my soil and climate aren’t conducive to good results.

Hopefully folks can garner some insight on what might work for their particular location. Feel free to share your results.


#2

I’ve observed that blueberries almost grow like weeds in North Carolina. Despite some sticky red clay, the soil percs and is low pH.

In Kentucky, and especially in areas with limestone outcrops like the Bluegrass, it may take a little more effort, but you can do it.

Try this: put some blocks or stones (I would say timbers but most of those are treated and might leach into the fruit) in the yard like you might for a flower bed. Maybe six inches or so tall. Fill up halfway with bagged topsoil from Rural King or your favorite seller. Add some elemental Sulphur. And take a big fork or shovel and dig into the existing dirt to blend it into the new bagged soil you have dumped into your new bed. Plant large bare-root blueberries, at least three different cultivars, (or potted blueberries if 3 gallon size or larger).
Plant 3 feet or more apart and arrange the bed so you can pick from all sides.
Then mulch generously with wood chips, cypress, pine straw, or your favorite mulch.
Water twice weekly in dry weather.

Within 5 years you’ll have enough fruit for you and the birds too.


#3

I’ll start off with a little report of my own. Mostly berries and a few apples.

Blackberries (5 varieties)- PA Freedom seems to be the least winter hardy of all my five thornless BB’s, with Triple Crown the most hardy. TC also seems to have the best flavor, but PAF berries are the largest. Osage was a smaller berry, but had a nice, unique flavor.

Raspberries (9 varieties)- Prelude is the most prolific, followed by Fall Gold and Anne. Prelude has been pretty tart, but the other two are sweeter. I tried twice to get Double Gold going, but it never survived a whole year.

Strawberries (3 varieties)- Earliglow is the most prolific, suckers more, and is the sweetest, but is also a small/medium sized berry. Jewel is bigger, but less sweet, and sends out fewer runners. I planted Flavorfest last year, so no report on those. Was planning on getting Seascape (everbearer) this season.

Apples (16 varieties, not all have fruited yet)- Zestar, Suncrisp, Grimes Golden, Alkmene very small crop last year. All had very good flavor, Z and SC were large fruit, about 3in diameter, the other two were small, about 2in or less.

Gooseberries (3 varieties)- Oregon Champion is largest and most prolific, berries are small grape size, very tart, unless you leave them on the plant a while. Jeanne and Poorman, smaller plants, no real fruit to sample. I tried Hinnomaki Red twice, could not get it to live more than a year.


#4

Thanks. What types, though? Northern or Southern highbush, or Rabbiteyes? I tried four varieties of NHB, two have died, and the other two have struggled. They were all in-ground. I probably didn’t fertilize them enough, and they might have been subjected to more high water than they should have sometimes. The soil had tested at about 5.0 for pH, so it was acidic enough, but also very low on nutrients (P, K, Ca, Mg).


#5

From what I’ve read and understand,Rabbiteyes are most likely to succeed in your area.To me,the flavor isn’t like the Northerns,but Yadkin impressed me with sweetness and there are good reports about Brightwell.bb


#6

Subdood, I have or have had at least all the following varieties: Not in order of preference:
Earliblue, Duke, Bluecrop, Jersey, Herbert, Chandler, Sunshine Blue, Bluegold, Patriot, Chippewa, Elliot, Reka, Briggita, Toro, Nelson, Misty, Aurora, O’Neil, Brightwell, PowderBlue, Woodard, Jellybean…and probably some I am forgetting.

Nelson is the one I’d be most reluctant to plant again out of them all. And in zones 6 and 7, Sunshine Blue I consider a ‘can’t miss’, as it blooms early, fruits midseason, can take most weather and soils up to at least 6.5, and puts up plenty of new shoots each year. Average size berries, that keep well, and taste above average, no sourness unless you pick prematurely. And I have HardiBlue on order, have not tried it before. I’d recommend Rabbiteye for zones 7b and 8a, but don’t know why either northern or southern highbush won’t work for most except long the Canadian border some lowbush/highbush hybrids might be needed for the winter hardiness factor.


#7

Try growing the blueberries a couple years in containers, like a 15 to 25 gallon root pouch
You can buy smaller amounts, but one has to compare prices. They vary a bunch. Like amazon has 1 for 20 bucks or 10 of the same pouch for 60 bucks. 15 gallon.
Anyway any pot is fine. I use pine and peat moss. The pine is small. Often sold as “soil conditioner” Private nurseries usually have it. Hard to find good stuff. I grow all my blueberries in a mix of pine bark fines and peat moss a 3-1 ratio. I add DE the size of perlite, but certainly is optional.

Since establishment is the problem. Grow them out in containers a couple years and transplant into the ground. Using a root pouch you can leave it out all winter, pots crack when frozen. Don’t let it get bone dry. The pH stays good with peat and pine… You can monitor closer in a container near the house. Baby it. I recently moved a 2 year blueberry to the ground and it hit the ground running. Fruited like crazy. I plant in raised beds filled with peat and pine.

I noticed that the plant transplanted well. In a pot you can control conditions better. Let the plant get big, strong, and established. It’s an option to try if nothing else works.

Himbo Top raspberry grows like Prelude, is as early too, And also just as prolific. If Prelude does well, so will this one. It is everbearing and 2nd crop is also very early. Grow two crops with this one. It is a lot sweeter than Prelude. But I must say Prelude makes an awesome jam or syrup, exactly what you want for processing, a nice tart berry. Top grade flavor.


#8

Thanks for the suggestions about bloobs. Sometimes I’ve come across some nice potted plants at Rural King, so I might try them that way for a while and then transplant them. I don’t want to have a lot of stuff potted when I have the land available. Not all of it is good, but I can find a place somewhere.

Regarding rasps, I’ve had better luck with them. They have seemed to be more finicky and less vigorous than blackberries. But they set a good amount of canes last year, so I should get more to sample this year. Really interested to see if I can get any fruit off my two blackcaps.


#9

In the last two years I put some older potted plants into the ground, and they didn’t skip a beat. It’s a good way to get fussy plants started.

I have had good and bad luck with them. I lost some, just died. Not sure why?
But I did manage to breed some and I got super lucky and it looks like a great cultivar.
I talked about it here


#10

Not real close, but pretty close and I have the exact same problem with the same. Mine are not dying they just stand still doing nothing really. Here around the mountains it’s all clay and rock. Just figured they did not like it and did not plant anymore.


#11

Thank you @subdood_ky_z6b for establishing this thread.
My own report:
Last year was very challenging for fruit trees. The winter was too warm, followed by spring frost and snow.
Then came a very hot and dry summer. Since our fruit trees are mostly standards and all over the property, we don’t irrigate at all.

Varieties with a long bloom have of course less frost damage:

  • Golden Noble (planted 05) and Menznauer Jägerapfel (03) have a remarkably long bloom time.
    GN is a very good baking apple, probably too sharp for fresh eating ( though not for me). It coped well with the drought and is for some reason not attractive to the crows. Downside is the small size caused by dryness. It ripens mid September for us and keeps at least until november in our ‘natural’ cellar.
    MJ let many fruit drop, but the remaining ones got to fistsize. They had severe bitter pit, maybe because they got so big. Fresh inedible, dry, sour, tastless and hard but great for apple pies. We picked them at the beginning of october because of the crows, but I guess we could at least have waited 2 weeks longer. Keeps until november, crumples and gets sweeter.
    But the best apple last year was Prinz Albrecht von Preussen(planted 07?). It was completely umbothered by the frost and the drought and produced at least 15 kg. We began picking in the middle of August and continued into September. Slightly underripe it is a sharp, juicy, very refreshing apple. As it ripens, the skin gets waxy and the taste gets sweeter and the aroma almost flowery. Difficult to describe but very tasty. I just googled this variety again and it turns out that one parent of PAvP is Emperor Alexander, apparently a very hardy and robust variety…and probably the parent of Wolf River.

Among the pears is Josefine von Mecheln/ Josephine de Maline one of the best.
We have it as a espalier. It flowered for a long time this year and set a lot of fruit. We picked the fruit on the first of November and they should keep until January.
Because of the short growing season we can’t choose cultivars that ripen too late.
I’m always looking for varieties that fit the golden middle


#12

Thanks for your report. I have been to Switzerland once, very beautiful there. I spent one night in Bern, Luzern and two nights in Mürren, in the Jungfrau area. Did a lot of hiking while there! Good food and good bier.

Anyway, I haven’t heard that much about the apples you mentioned. I have an Alkmene, which was developed in Germany almost 100 years ago. It is a cross of Cox Orange Pippin and Duchess of Oldenburg. I don’t know if you are familiar with it, but it seems to be a very good apple. Tart, sweet and aromatic. Not a lot of production yet, as it is a dwarf (G11) tree, plus fruit has been small.

I imagine it is difficult growing fruit where you are due to the altitude and short growing season. Do you grow any berries, like blue, rasp, black, strawberries or gooseberries? What about currants? Interesting to hear that you have pear on espalier, a few folks on this site grow apples and pears this way.

As mentioned, @steve333 lives in a somewhat similar location to yours, perhaps he can offer his experiences on what has worked for him.


#13

Are you talking about both rasps and blueberries? Do you also grow blackberries?


#14

Blueberries have been the hardest. Some raspberries have done ok and some not. Blackberries do not seem to have much issue. Blueberries have grown a foot or less in 3-4 years. Have heard blueberries require a very specific ph soil balance. Guess I don’t have it.
@subdood_ky_z6b


#15

Then you have visited the most famous places of my country. I’ve never been to the USA but of course it would be worth it to visit a country with so diverse landscapes…:heart_eyes:

I can believe very well that you haven’t heard much about my varieties :smile:
Golden Noble is an old english Cooking Apple, but not very widely known like Blenheim Orange or Bramley.
Prinz Albrecht and Menznauer Jägerapfel are german varieties. I don’t think that they were ever planted internationally.
MJ is very old, known since 1650 and has many names (Rheinischer Winterrambur, Teuringer Rambur). Parents are of course unknown.
Prinz Albrecht is a Seedling of Kaiser Alexander and Baumanns Renette and originated 1865.
I am familiar with Alkmene in the sense that I researched it, but for some reason I can’t remember I rejected it. Sadly I never got to taste it. A good friend (professional fruit farmer) says that they had it but it isn’t suitable for commercial growing. He didn’t say why, saying for more information I had to talk to his father who is 87. If I have time I’ll do that tomorrow.

Yes we do have berries: black and red currant, josta berry ( a cross between currant and gooseberry) and thid year we had strawberries. The name of the variety I don’t know, I’ll have to ask my mother. They were very healthy and vigorous.

In my region it’s traditional to grow dessert pears as a espalier against the south side of the barn and the cider pears as freestanding standards.


#16

Josefine von mecheln


#17


JvM starting to bloom on the 2. April 2019


#18

Thanks for the reply. Sounds like you are growing all kinds of fruit. I saw your profile and it looks like you have your hands full with all those trees, in addition to raising cattle. Do you produce any cheese from the milk?

Yes, I’m afraid I haven’t heard of a lot of your apple varieties, but as long as they’re working for you, that’s good. I imagine them being standard size trees that they took a while to start producing? I planted some semi-dwarf apple trees 3 and 4 years ago, and some are just now starting to produce some fruit.

My Alkmene tree is a dwarf tree, and is only 3 years old, but produced quite a few apples last year. Unfortunately, it appears I lost quite a few to squirrels. I have a wild plum tree that was full of fruit last year, but we didn’t get any, again because of the tree rats!

It seems that currants are a popular fruit in Europe, I hear about a lot people who grow them, especially blackcurrants. I don’t grow any here, but do have some gooseberries, which are similar. Strawberries do very well here, we are growing three different varieties. Do you grow known varieties, or are yours more like alpine strawberries?


#19

We don’t have milk cattle, we produce beef, so sadly no self-produced cheese for us.

Yes,the standards are very slow to begin producing. It takes at least 10 years for them to produce crops and not just single apples, but 15 years might be more realistic…of course dwarfs would be interesting, but we can’t grow them because of strong winds in spring and fall and snow pressure in winter. Is one stake enough to keep your dwarfs upright?
I believe there must be many more squirrels in America than in Europe. I must confess I was very surprised by the hatred this forum has for them!

Our strawberry are a known variety but I don’t know the name. We do have wild strawberries in our land that we gather if we have time but they are veeeeery small.
If you say you have a wild plum do you mean an indigenous american variety of plum? Do domesticated american Plums have indigenous ancestry?


#20

Yes, native. Like blueberries. More than one species too.