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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 at 10:02 PM

Edith — on the fruit trees

Edith — on the fruit trees
By Edith Isidoro-Mills Seed catalogs aren’t the only type of gardening catalog serious gardeners have been receiving over the past couple of months.  Also arriving in the mailboxes of serious and not so serious gardeners are catalogs for bare root nursery stock such as fruit trees.  Just looking at the pictures of beautiful fruit can make you long for fresh, home grown fruit but don’t give into temptation too quickly.Most fruit trees, except citrus, will survive in Churchill County.  However, surviving doesn’t necessarily mean the tree will bear fruit.  In order for fruit trees to bear fruit several conditions must be present.  Some of these conditions can be accommodated in Churchill County but it only takes one bad condition to prevent fruit production. These conditions should be considered before ordering any trees.One condition that can be controlled is making sure there is an appropriate source of pollen to stimulate fruit production.  Most fruit trees are not self-pollinating and require another tree of the same species but a different variety.  This means that if you want an apple tree to bear fruit you must purchase at least two apple trees and they must be different varieties planted close together so that the bees required for pollination don’t have far to go between varieties.  Most catalogs provide a description that includes recommendations for cross pollination and a chart indicating which varieties are compatible.A lot of homeowners like to plant their fruit trees in the middle of their lawns.  This may look nice but if you fertilize your lawn properly it is too much for fruit trees.  Over fertilizing the fruit trees can cause them to expend too much energy producing wood and not enough in flower bud production.  An additional problem is late season fertilization of lawns can stimulates late season, succulent growth and the tree doesn’t go dormant soon enough to prevent damage to its vascular system from frost.Alas, there is still one condition that gardeners in Churchill County have very little control over and that is the climate.  Our winters are not so severe that the trees are killed.  In fact stone fruits and pomes (apples and pears) require a period of cold weather to initiate and break dormancy.  If they don’t get this period of cold weather they may bloom at strange times and not sufficiently at any time for cross pollination.  Fortunately this is never a problem in Churchill County.  Unfortunately, sometimes our springs are erratic and can fool a tree into blooming too soon only to have blossoms frosted during a late spring freeze.  To lessen the chances damaging blossoms from late frosts, stick to late blooming fruit species such as apples, pears, and sour cherries.  If you still want to take a chance on peaches, nectarines, or sweet cherries try varieties that bloom late.Apricots are usually the first fruit trees to bloom and rarely do they produce fruit in Churchill County.  Last year was an exceptional year in that we didn’t have any late frost and most people with apricot trees had apricots.  In the over 30 years I’ve lived in Churchill County, this has happened only three times.  Still apricot trees are pretty and can make nice shade.         Support local, independent news – contribute to The Fallon Post, your non-profit (501c3) online news source for all things Fallon. Never miss the local news — read more on The Fallon Post home page.