Selecting non-marginal fruit for cool summers and mild winters (East SF Bay Area Zone 10a)

I don’t strongly suspect anything, but I notice the CH are less than half the next lowest number on the list. Also seems pretty low for most of California based on this list.

Since the number is based on 2 years of data, it is anecdotal at best. I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in it. I would find out what other people in your area grow, and put my faith in that.

I checked the cumulative data for El Cerrito, and it is only based on 2013-2019. Basically the hottest decade on record.

1 Like

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htz5BUNMB38

2 Likes

I agree that two data points are not great for establishing a true average or range. That said, I do wonder what the normal amount of variation is around chill hours. From looking at other spots not too far from here, it looks like the variation around the mean wouldn’t be more than a couple hundred chill hours. So if these data points represent the low end of the range of chill hours, then it’s still likely that my area is under, say 700. And then there is the fact that the climate is just getting warmer! So likely the “hottest decade on record” is going to be beat by each following decade. So maybe it’s actually realistic to use these “hot year” data points for projecting into the future. But I digress!

What you say about seeing what grows in my area really does make sense to me. I haven’t had the chance to identify too many varieties growing here, just a few of the more common ones. Most people don’t even seem to know what they have when I notice their trees and ask. Maybe I need to make more fruit nerd friends! :slight_smile:

1 Like

You guys lost me on the whole two data points thing. What is it you are looking at? To me it looks like cumulative data going back 6 years, but maybe I am confused?

That one shows fewer than 200 CH, only has two data points.

@CA_Poppy Thank you for pulling out this graph! I’m not sure why the table in the PDF I linked does not make use of the additional years shown in this graph. In a footnote (in the file I linked), they mention they only use two years to determine the average.

In any case, the data here are pretty clear. Looks like chill hours around here can be expected to usually be between 100 and 600. And it looks like it’s reasonable to say that many years will likely be under 300 chill hours. While there may be outlier years, I’m more interested in general tendencies. This is very helpful! Thank you!

@MaracujA Your area seems to have a lot of variation between years in the amount of CH. For comparison, here is the station closest to me. The chill hours here are much more consistent from year to year.

Did you see this paper that has lists of fruit varieties recommended specifically for various areas of Contra Costa county? There are also some varieties not included on that list that may work for you. Red Baron Peach, as I mentioned above, and there are now some low chill cherries from Zaiger genetics–Minnie Royal, Royal Lee, and Crimson Royal–that require under 300 CH.

2 Likes

You should also be aware that Chill Hours are not a precise science. Unless you are growing in a greenhouse and can control the climate. In W Washington, there is a big difference in Winter temperature between light and shade. Rare snows will melt in a day or two, but will persist in the shade for weeks. My Shiro plum bloomed before my Neighbor’s Methley this year. All sources I have found show Methley being earlier blooming than Shiro. The only difference in locations is that his is on more of an Eastern slope, with more shade in the evening. Both trees are within a few feet of the sidewalk.
I try to treat new information with a healthy dose of skepticism. More often than not, we know less than we think we do.

4 Likes

I appreciate this point. While not a growing expert, as a researcher who works with data from the real world on the regular, I can certainly relate to the disconnect between averaged data and on-the-ground complexity. That said, and again coming at it from my researcher perspective, I also understand the value of data as a useful guide for planning. While incomplete and imperfect, paying attention to data does tend to maximize one’s odds for success, even if it’s no guarantee. I imagine it’s no different for agricultural science, even if the exactness and other parameters varies from region to region or from crop to crop.

Right now I’m in planning mode, which means I’m in data-gathering mode. I like to be eclectic and holistic in my approach. I want to know about chill hours, about varieties that are proven to do well in my area, about disease susceptibility (and what diseases are most common in my area), etc. I am talking to nurseries, professionals I know, members of my local garden club, and you good folks on the internet. I’m finding some types of fruit (like apples) have more wiggle room in the chill hours than others (like cherries). I intend to capitalize on that knowledge and am allowing myself to consider apple trees I otherwise wouldn’t. That said, I’m not interested in pushing the envelope in my growing region, in part because my region seems to be so variable. Since I can’t be sure what my property has (or what the future will bring), I’m trying to find varieties that will do reasonably well in a range of conditions found within my area.

So, while my intense focus on chill hours may look like a misguided belief that these numbers are the end-all and be-all for tree selection, I do understand this is far from exact. What looks like hard-headed and narrow focus is actually just a research phase I’m going through right now. I’m full expecting everything to go NOT as planned once I have my actual trees. And in the meantime, I’m going to keep learning about the data, as imperfect as it all is, because I do intend to let it guide me too.

I know this is a little long winded. Just wanting to save folks the work of trying to get me to understand that none of this is to be really taken as hard rules. I do appreciate that! :slight_smile:

1 Like

@CA_Poppy I really would love to grow peaches. That said, I can’t find a single person in my area that has successfully had a peach tree. They all seem to get sick and die. So while I theoretically know I can grow peaches here, I’m hesitant to waste tree space on it, especially since we don’t intend to spray. Also, we are wanting to keep the trees very small, so we won’t have the option to hard-prune for diseases.

I also hesitate because my wife and I are extremely picky about fruit quality. We have gotten very spoiled because we receive a big box of free fruit every week from Frog Hollow Farm, and their stone fruit is extremely hard to beat. Their climate is much more suited to growing peaches than ours, and if our peaches weren’t as good, we probably wouldn’t appreciate them very much. We get cherries from them too, though in much more limited quantities, so I’m thinking a low-chill cherry could be a great addition, maybe better than a peach! A double-graft of Minnie Royal and Minnie Lee would be ideal, or perhaps the self-fruitful Royal Crimson. These are new varieties, which makes me hesitant. I guess I’d want to hear more successful growing reports first. Thanks for the thoughts

4 Likes

I have enjoyed reading all the imput and helpful tips in this thread, especially since I am in zone 10b, near the coast in SoCal. My micro climate is a little different, but not all that hot and nor much chill. We can count on getting anywhere between 150 to 400 chill hours.

@MaracujA, It sounds like you have already done plenty of research and everyone has given you lots of execellent advice. I like a number of the fruit varieties on your list. Here is my two cents if you are still looking for more opinions on varieties.

I completely agree with the recommendation of Loquat. The fruits aren’t typically sold at farmers markets or in grocery stores, but the trees are pest free, yummy, dependable, and are something to enjoy other than citrus in Spring. They also make a nice evergreen landscape tree. They also aren’t very thirsty.

Apples- I am glad you are considering the other apples. IMO, Anna and Dorsett are only mediocre in flavor and texture. I grew both for many years. I planted them because of the low chill requirement and the many recommendations in gardening books in the late 90’s. I don’t like soft apples and both Anna and Dorsett are tender. I also didn’t like that they ripen during the early summer, when we are tired of apples after eating them all winter and early spring. Both varieties turn brown quickly when sliced, and don’t keep very long. I chopped them back and regrafted them with other varieties I collected at CRFG scion exchanges, many of which were mentioned by others in this thread. If you are really limited on space, I would recommend just getting one apple tree and then graft the second variety into it. The GG CRFG scion exchange near you always has lots of apple scion wood to choose from every January. Higher chill apples that have fruited for me are Sierra Beauty, King David, Mutsu, and Granny Smith. This January, I picked up a scion of Goldrush from the North San Diego CRFG scion exchange because a member there said it was doing well for him with even less chill than my location. I am looking forward to seeing how it does for me.

Plums- Weeping Santa Rosa is excellent and Beauty is very good. I have both. Beauty is vigorous but not very productive. WSR is more productive and I love the tart skin. If I could only have one plum/ pluot, WSR would be it.

Persimmons- Izu is excellent, and is a slightly smaller tree, super sweet, and a great choice if you are wanting to keep it small. My neighbor has it as a focal point in her front yard, in partial shade, and keeps it about 8 x 8 but still gets way more fruit than they can use, every other year. It is ready at the end of September most years around here. I like Matsumoto Wase best out of the varieties I have grafted into my two trees, but it is more vigorous than Izu. I don’t have chocolate. I do have saijo, but so far the critters have stolen all the fruit from the branch before I picked it, thus I have not tasted it. However, the fruits they steal in my yard are typically the most aromatic or flavorful ones. The only negative to Izu is it isn’t as easy to come by as something like Jiro, which is also a great variety.

Pineapple Guava- I am a big fan of Feijoas and I like all the named grafted varieties that I have sampled and many of the seedlings. I have a couple that haven’t fruited yet, but out of the ones that have, I like Unique the best. If you are shopping around for early, mid, and late varieties, Unique is early.

Avocados- Bacon is okay, but not outstanding. Have you considered any other B type Avocados like Sir Prize or Sharwil? In my opinion, the main thing going for Bacon is it is a B variety and ready in February or March around here, before many other varieties. Reed tastes great, and I especially like that it doesn’t turn brown easily when cut. It is very popular with many members of CRFG in SoCal.

Figs- In my personal experience, out of about 25 varieties I grew, my favorite ones that did well regardless of summer heat or not were VdB, Unknown Pastilliere, MBvs, and Strawberry Verte. MBvs even tasted good growing in dappled shade. Many other varieties never sweetened up enough in my location, even in pots on the driveway. However, I didn’t grow Desert King.

Grapes - I grow hybrid and American grapes to avoid Powdery Mildew which can be a big problem in humid or coastal areas, especially if you don’t plan to spray to prevent it. I try a few new varieties every couple of years. Golden Muscat, being an American grape is probably a great choice, but I haven’t tasted it. I look forward to reading your opinion on it in the future. Out of about 15 grapes I have grown, Concord, Jupiter, and Petite Jewel all earned permanent places in my yard. None of those usually show signs of PM, even without spraying.

Berries- From your list, I have only grown Caroline. It was yummy, average in size, taste, and had good texture, but my favorite berries I have grown have been Bababerry red raspberry, Anne yellow raspberry, and Triple Crown thornless blackberry.

Have you considered growing Kiwifruit? It does really well around here, it just isn’t drought tolerant at all. One of my varieties, DG’s Delight, came from the CRFG Golden Gate scion exchange. However, kiwifruit are very vigorous, need support, and regular pruning. My vines are about 15 years old, but I keep them contained to a 6ft x 10ft area. I especially like that the fruit is ready during the time of year when I am not picking much else from the yard and then they keep for months in the fridge.

If you have not already gone through their website as part of the research for your list, the Golden Gate CRFG chapter posted what grows well, based on a poll of their members, along with some comments. The lists can be found at this link: Bay Area Favorites
It is split up for different areas of the bay area: Cool coastal, Bayside and Inland.

I hope you have lots of enjoyment and fruit from your new plants. And like @jerry said, if something turns out to be a variety you don’t like or is not productive enough, it can always be grafted over.

8 Likes

Thank you for al these invaluable nuggets!

Loquats: I have tried to like them, I just can’t seem to get into them! I wish I did. Do people eat them cooked? Maybe I should try it that way before making up my mind

Apples: I think we have space for three apple trees now, with more room later, including espalier and grafting. Right now I’m thinking White Pearmain because it’s a good mid season pollinator, seems dependably low-chill, seems to like coastal climates, and is described as having an “antique” apple flavor (not sure what that is, but I sure want to know—I love the feeling of being connected to generations of gardeners). I also am thinking Gold Rush because it sounds like a good mix of dependability and deliciousness. And I’m also thinking Hooples’ Antique Golden because it just sounds amazing (and is bloom-compatible). Later on I would love to add King David, Grimes’ Golden, Cox Pippin, Hunt Russet, Hudson’s Golden Gem, all as regular trees or as espalier. We theoretically have the room, it’s about negotiating with my fig-loving partner. I think cross-pollination would work out well, except wondering about the Hudson’s being on the early side. There is always grafting too! You have made it relatively easy to cross off Anna and Dorsett, thank you.

Plums: The WSR is the tree I really want. The Beauty is along for the ride to pollinate. I believe WSR is self-fruitful, but I’m assuming the crop will be better with another Japanese plum nearby? I’ve heard Beauty is the way to go here because it does well with cool summers, but I’m hearing a lot about Satsuma plums too lately.

Persimmons: Was thinking about Matsumoto Wase, but was afraid it would be difficult to control with pruning. Glad to know grafting it worked for you! Maybe that’s something we should consider too

Pineapple guava: I’ve sampled fruit from a few different friends, and they really do vary so much! One I particularly adored is what I believe to be Nazemetz. I don’t know if it’s early or late but CRFG lists Trask as a good pollinator. Trask seems hard to find. Do you know the bloom period for Nazemetz or Trask? In any case, I am hoping to track down several varieties thru CRFG. Will keep a lookout for Unique!

Avocado - I would be interested in something less commonly available around here, we seem to get a lot of Bacons. My wife just LOVES her mild-tasting Bacons tho, and she won’t hear of replacing it, so that’s that. :slight_smile: Looking forward to the Reed tho, which I’ve never had.

Fig - I worry about figs sweetening here. Whatever MBvs is, it sounds like we should plant it! We are installing four 35-gallon pots for VdB, have a spot picked out for Desert King, and have one more spot for a fig. We were thinking Mission initially. The others you listed as sweetening even without heat have all now taken the lead! @HanburyHouse What does MBvs stand for?

Grapes - Of the varieties that seemed to me like they would do ok here, we chose the golden muscat because my French partner thought this might taste something like the muscat she knows. To me it feels like a bit of a random choice, but also sounds like a fine grape to grow. Will be sure to give updates! :slight_smile:

Berries - Taking notes on these, thanks. I’ve seen Triple Crown at local nurseries.

Kiwi - Yes! Interesting to hear you keep them contained to 6x10. Very, very interested. We have taken on a lot for now, but I do hope we will get to kiwis in the future. Especially since it doesn’t sound like we need as much room as I thought. What male/female ratio do you use?

And since it seems I’m doing a full update, I’ll add that I’m pretty confused by all the mulberry options. Some grow fast, some slowly, some grow big, some not, and it’s unclear to me whether true M. nigra would even sweeten up properly here. Controlling with pruning seems tricky too, as I’ve heard one doesn’t want to prune mulberries much. Research continues!

And finally: I love that this poll exists! Hopefully they will repeat, with more respondents.

Thank you much

2 Likes

Yes, I think pollination would work out fine, including the HGG. I’m not sure about Hunt Russet, but the bloom times for everything else that you list overlap in my orchard, with the exception of Grimes Golden - and that one is self-fertile.

You made some good choices there. COP is highly scab-prone and requires some spraying, in common with some of its descendants (notably Suntan). It’s excellent, though. If you want to grow something with some Cox flavor that requires less spraying, consider Rubinette or the triploid Karmijn de Sonnaville. Both do very well here.

2 Likes

You may also want to consider Mariposa, aka Improved Satsuma. It requires 250 CH.

2 Likes

Loquats: Do people eat them cooked?

Yes, but I only like them fresh. I have also tried drying them and did not care for them that way.

Do you know the bloom period for Nazemetz or Trask?

I don’t have Trask so I can’t report when it blooms, but my Apollo, Coolidge, Nazemetz, and Unique all bloom pretty close together to get sufficent fruit set, blooming within a three or four week period, with a few stragglers staggering the bloom. I do a little bit of hand pollination when I am out snacking on the petals. Most of my bloom has been in March to early April here in SoCal. Ramsey is still tiny and has not bloomed yet. We generally get ripe Unique feijoas in late September to mid October. I start harvesting Nazemetz and Cooliage mid October into early November. The timing seems to vary depending on how warm or windy our fall weather is.

What does MBvs stand for?

MBvs fig is also occassionally called by its original name, Marseilles Black. That is where the MB comes from. The VS is an identifier of a strain that can be traced back to a fig collector named Vasile. Its his initials. He went by Herman2 on the old figs4fun forum. Some fig collectors often keep detailed records of their sources and the chain of collectors in between. This one fig, more often than not, goes only by the initials MBvs.

Kiwifruits:

What male/female ratio do you use?

I started out with just my two original vines in the ground and then about 3 1/2 years ago, I began grafting other varieties into them. I currently have 2 male varieties - one fuzzy and one unk. hardy. I also have 4 female varieties- 3 fuzzy and one hardy (Vincent, Elmwood, DG’s Delight, and Rossanna)

4 Likes

F@jerry I was thinking Grimes’ Golden could pollinate Hunt Russet specifically. Glad to know you think Hudson’s Golden Gem would work with this lineup! I saw one source (orangepippintrees) that GG pollinates Hudson’s, but based on everything else I’ve read, this seems unlikely

@CA_Poppy Thank you for the Mariposa suggestion

@HanburyHouse Sounds like I don’t need to worry about hunting down Trask! Excellent news. Interesting that you have two main vines with grafts for the kiwi!

My French wife who is sometimes homesick for her European staples is extremely pleased that it seems we may be growing two figs with French heritage, the Violette de Bordeaux, and also hopefully now the MBvs :slight_smile: And thanks for the history—I do love to know

Actually reading the first post now, instead of just the Apple chill hour discussion :smile: May be you already bought and planted the trees, but i have a few questions/comments. In general, I have a decent overlap with the varieties you’ve chosen. I’m reasonably new to growing fruits and most of my experiences are tasting fruits at others’ places:

  1. Any reason there are no pluots? Most people here rate flavor king highly (I don’t, but I want to try once more before confirming). I really liked Emerald Drop, after tasting it recently. Next, I’d rate Satsuma and Santa Rosa over FK, in that order.

  2. I have Caroline and it has the traditional raspberry flavor - sweet and tart. If I’m planting only one red, I’d prefer Josephine or BP-1, both tasted better than my Caroline when I tried them at @Girly’s yard.

  3. Passion fruit - Any specific reason for Black Knight over Frederick? The latter does really well for me with only 3-4 hours of morning sun.

  4. Chocolate persimmon is a shy setter. I’d plant a Jiro Fuyu and graft chocolate, coffeecake and other interesting varieties. However, I see you have chosen a total of 3 persimmons, so productivity may not be as critical for you.

  5. No citrus?!

1 Like