Multiple trees in one hole?

fireweed22March 21, 2013

I'm running out of space...
Somewhere I read about sticking several varieties of fruit tree into one hole, kind of like expensive grafting!
I just picked up 4, 12" starts of the Cupid series (?) hardy cherries and wondering how to go about planting in one hole. They are in 3" pots so no root ball issues to speak of.

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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

Some prefer to plant multiple tree in one hole, some prefer to space single trees every few feet almost hedgelike.. Of course, you want dwarfing rootstock.. It's called "backyard orchard culture BYOC"

Hope this helps,

here's what your looking for

Here is a link that might be useful: High density planting

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 3:09AM
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alan haigh

I am not at all convinced that 4 to a hole is a good way to grow fruit trees in the east or any planting method that has such close spacing that frequent summer pruning is required. What works in the west where it is dry during the growing season will not necessarily work well in the east and problems Scott has had in MD in the few years he has experimented with close planting has increased my doubt.

At least Cherries have some fairly well tested semi-dwarfing rootstocks (plus they don't get fire blight) that are helpful of reducing vigor and keeping trees in a smaller area.. I'm not familiar with the Cupid series you mention but the relative vigor of the variety will have a lot of bearing on how well close spacing will work for you.

Sweet cherries are very prone to cracking and good ventilation is essential when grown in areas that get any rain while fruit is ripening.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 5:46AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Hman, I think you need to come visit my orchard sometime. While I have had some failures, those were plantings much closer than the BYOC recommends - I had apples spaced 1' apart in a zig-zag for example, and even had multiple grafts on some of those 1'-spaced trees! I don't think there is any problem at all with 3' spacing or 4-in-a-hole as long as the grower knows how to prune, and I have hundreds of trees at that spacing that I consider very successful.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 9:30AM
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Dwarfing rootstocks are not required or recommended with BYOC. Size is controlled by summer pruning. It is recommended that rootstocks all match in high density plantings so that none of the trees have an advantage or disadvantage.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 12:21PM
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alan haigh

OK, Scott, I apologize. If you are getting crops that are comparable in volume and quality as more conventional spacing you've shown it is at least possible in your particular soil and micro-climate- but have you tried growing fruit trees any other way? Is this an objective comparison?

I still fail to see the advantage of many trees over a few trees with many varieties grafted on. There is also the fact that you can't baffle your trees from squirrels and the high rate of fire blight that you are experiencing lately is also concerning and may be directly related to your spacing.

How many years ago did you begin this project? The affect of the spacing will not be really measurable for about 15 years in my opinion, when the trees reach maximum vigor on some of the rootstocks.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 5:31PM
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Harvestman, as stated previously, high density plantings are a preference --rather than an advantage over multi-graft. It's OK to prefer one over the other. The two can also co-exist. High density plantings are an easy and reliable entry point for a lot of folks.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 6:41PM
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Thanks for asking this, I was just wondering about high density orchards myself today (and reading the article posted above). As a home gardener, I like the idea of having less fruit per plant but more varieties over a longer harvest season. I look forward to harvest and preservation, but 500 fruits is a LOT!

I am strongly considering trying a mini-grove of lemons and one of peaches. Just need to find out where everyone else is getting all these lovely varieties, 'cuz I sure can't find any near me!

I put a link to the article that originally got me thinking in this direction.

Here is a link that might be useful: Arborgate class handout on high density orchards

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 8:00PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Harvestman, I think you need to try a few closely spaced trees to see for yourself. You will see that once you learn how to initially prune/train them they are like a normal tree - a 4-way is like a tree that is 4' lower, so what was the 3' scaffold branching point is now 1' below the ground. By having the branching lower its like you lowered the whole tree so thats 4' of ladder you no longer need to climb up. I do have a few trees at bigger spacing myself, the varieties I really like I give more and more room over the years --- another advantage to the method.

I admit I made a lot of mistakes while I was learning, along with the 1' spacing I also did not train the trees with any tying down or spreaders until recently. The lack of training plus too-close spacing affected my harvest sizes on some trees.

The three real downsides I see after the experience I have had is one I agree they can't be baffled for squirrels, two the birds/squirrels have a greater chance of getting the whole crop since the multiple varieties ripen a bit at a time, and three they require more diligence in pruning, its easier to screw up. On my trees spaced 3' apart I made some pruning mistakes but they were not horrible ones, it was only on the closer spacings that I made big mistakes. For that reason I would say to avoid anything closer than 3'. Also, row width I would recommend 12', I used 10' in most places which is OK but an extra 2' would have been less cramped.


PS Those Arborgate slides are nice and thorough. The only thing I would add is in more humid climates there should have more spacing between limbs - some of the pictures show too-dense shoots. I stub all shoots on stone fruits in the winter to limit the number of buds and the number of shoots. This is standard southern peach pruning technique so its not necessarily related to the closer trunks.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 9:30PM
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alan haigh

Scott, the point I'm trying to make about close spacing in humid climates is that it is still experimental here and I think should be approached with at least some caution. It isn't just the humidity- it is the inability to control irrigation when it comes out of the sky without a schedule.

When you posted about the alarming advance of fire blight on some of your apples it read to me like a possible red flag. Also, you are still learning pruning methods that need to be evaluated for a few more years for me to be assured you've solved the vigor problems that you've mentioned.

I've had experience with closely spaced trees from the get go- either on sites where espaliers were planted on excessively vigorous root stocks or in my own nursery where I plant trees extremely close. Even in my own orchard I plant much closer than I plant for my clients- a certain lack of discipline on my own part, being over eager to try every new variety that comes down the pike. I've been planting 2 peaches to a hole for about 20 years. I have to say, I much prefer the shape of my trees that have been given traditional space. I have 25 year old peaches that are still at peak productivity with vigorous shoots throughout the tree.

There may be advantages with close planting but I'm not sure that here they overcome the disadvantages, but, as Mr. Clint mentions, it is also a personal choice based on opinion (and I do excessively love my own opinions).

I would love to see your orchard and if I plan to be in your area during harvest season I will try to meet up with you. I'm sure I would learn a lot and might begin to embrace close planting with more confidence.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 6:39AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Hman, I agree it qualifies as an experimental technique, it has not been around long enough. I usually try to mention that but it looks like I left it off the above. Based on the success I had even with stupid-pruning on my 3'-spaced trees I expect anyone would be reasonably happy with the results, but more data is needed. I confess to pitching the technique strongly partly because I want more people using it and more discussion and learning about it.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 9:05AM
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High density planting of fruit trees is not experimental. It would only be experimental for folks that like to "wing it", but for folks that don't mind following directions it works very well. There's a lot of info out there on the subject, and it isn't just a California thing. Follow the search link below and you'll find articles from UMASS, MSU, NCSU, Fruit Growers News, and many others.

High density planting, multi-grafts, and espaliers are all just options/preferences. Discussions will simply go around in circles trying to prove which approach has the advantage or disadvantage.

Here is a link that might be useful: Search: high density planting fruit trees

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 4:35PM
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alan haigh

Mr. Clint, high density planting of fruit trees as practiced in the east is not at all the same thing as what Dave Wilson is promoting. Here it is about dwarfing rootstock special support systems and mostly apples. For peaches and other fruit it is not yet broadly endorsed and Adams has recently released a more columnar variety of peach in hopes it will work well, but it will be a while and require more columnar varieties before it's likely to have any affect on commercial production.

I follow trends in commercial production closely for ideas I can apply to my business. You have to understand how important the ability to turn off the water is when managing the vigor of fruit trees but it's not something you've ever had to deal with in the San Fernando Valley.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 7:12PM
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Harvestman, the information is there for the north east, the south, and where ever else. Some of the details may be different than what I apply, but the concepts are pretty much the same. I gave you a link, but I can't make you click on it or make you read where it leads. The data and info is there if you really want to look into it. Again, high density planting is just another tool in our toolkit, it isn't the answer to every question or the sum total of all knowledge.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 11:17PM
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alan haigh

Mr. Clint, I briefly checked your links. Show me a specific one from an academic source that is about very close spacing (either 4 to a hole, 15 feet apart or, say, 4' spacing) where you are relying on the trees competition with each other and summer pruning - not rootstock, to make the trees function as dwarfs. I believe this is what we are discussing. If you are talking about something else, let me know what it is.

I'd even be happy to find something from any credible source that has been using this method for 20 years in our climate. It took me 20 years to even make conventional methods work for me adequately well.

Asking me to do a google search to try to prove your point probably won't add up to much.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 6:23AM
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The only thing I heard about growing multiple trees in a hole is planting a "nurse tree" (tree that shades the other tree from harsh conditions), or nitrogen fixing trees. These wont last long, and tend to be cut down before the main tree gets large.

Hman, is planting 2 or 3 trees in a hole really any different then you having those 3 peach trees in a pot ?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 7:15AM
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alan haigh

Much different because the pot actually does create a dwarf tree as affective as any dwarfing root stock. Root pruning was the old fashioned way of creating dwarf fruit trees and a pot constricts root growth more effectively than pruning.

Fruitnut can guide you on this as most of his fruit production is in pots. I have a lot of potted trees in my nursery and very early fruiting can actually be a problem in that trees get stunted.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 7:55AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

The multiple trees in one hole in the ground also does dwarf each tree, each tree has 1/4th the area for roots since the other 3 each get their part. Another way to think about it is collectively the four have the same vigor as one regular tree.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 9:33AM
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alan haigh

Scott, that's the theory, and I agree that it is probably as least partially true. I would like to see some comparative evaluations in our climate in some range of soil textures, rainfall, etc. to actually know how true.

I really don't see a reduction in vigor when I plant 2 peaches to a hole- but I'm not doing a careful and comparative analysis. Because all the grafts of the peach wood you sent me last year took with the simplest splice, I'd rather have three trees (branches) on one trunk. My peaches with most room are easiest to manage and, by far, the most attractive.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 11:00AM
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I think a couple of concepts are being mixed and matched here to suit a particular, and somewhat narrow definition or point of view.

BYOC is for the backyard grower that wants an easy entry point into growing fruit. It is a high density planting form that runs contrary to a commercial application, in that maximizing yields are not the goal. Rootstocks are selected for survival according to local conditions (wet, dry, poor drainage, etc). BYOC does not call for dwarfing rootstocks, but high density planting in a commercial application may. There may be other regional inputs in both backyard and commercial settings as well.

That said, you probably won't find much in the way of helpful academic info on any backyard growing concept of any kind. We already knew that from the get-go. So if you find academic data on high density planting in a commercial setting using dwarfing rootstocks, it doesn't mean that a standard rootstock would completely fail for a backyard grower. You can't prove a negative.

You would need to find a field trial in your region, and I would doubt you would find one, because no one would pay for something that only benefits the backyard grower.

Breaking away from tried and true academic and commercial applications has been a godsend for the backyard grower. We are only recently seeing backyard requirements/concepts even being folded into the conversation.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 2:02PM
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alan haigh

Mr. Clint, I've spent most of my conscious hours during the last 25 years bending and experimenting to find the sweet point between commercial production strategies and what is best suited for home and estate orchards in an attempt to keep customers happy with quality fruit and reduced pesticide and labor input.

The question here is not complicated, although there may be no single or final answer. It is about relying on the dwarfing affect of crowding and summer pruning to achieve certain advantages including getting more varied fruit tree crops sooner in less space and how sustainable the benefits of these methods will be where rain is always in season.

I've always found it a bit concerning that a primary promoter of this methodology is a company that profits from selling as many fruit trees as possible, but at this point I've seen adequate evidence of the effectiveness of this approach in the west to accept it's usefulness there. I'm still I'm not completely convinced that if the people practicing it would prefer it if they knew how to do a simple splice graft and were doing an objective comparison. Maybe a visit to Scott's orchard would change this.

In the past you have espoused a philosophy that the least input required to reap the benefits of fruit the better. Are you sure this wouldn't be realized with conventional spacing of multi-variety trees combined with using the appropriate rootstocks for ones needs- even in the west.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 2:49PM
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Yes, multi-graft, espalier and maybe even columnar trained apples would all be fine options. I don't discount them, and wouldn't talk anyone out of them. My intent is to just let folks know that high density planting is a viable tool at their disposal. There are articles that address this method in other parts of the country, including your own.

I'm following instructions that are completely laid out for the world to see. It's a very easy entry point into fruit growing. A major nursery is fully accountable for the easy to follow videos and articles that it provides. There aren't any hidden secrets or tribal knowledge. Their business would suffer if the methods and advice didn't work for people. If your free advice failed for me, I would probably have to pay to fly you out to fix it, or go back to the drawing board looking for advice that is accountable.

Harvestman, I like you a lot, but I'll take DWN's expertise over your 25 years of bending and experimenting.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Dave Wilson Nursery

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 5:12PM
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alan haigh

I don't understand why you can't see the difference between growing in the west coast and east coast. I really have no concern about who you consider more reliable as a source of info-, I don't think you have any means to gauge my skill or expertise- even if you were more experienced yourself- however I seriously doubt anyone in the Dave Wilson company has particular knowledge about growing fruit in the east coast which is entirely the context of this discussion.

Adams County Nursery sells Dave Wilson trees and has to evaluate how each variety performs here because DW has no means of doing so. That should tell you something.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 7:54PM
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Just freakin dig a 4' diameter hole and toss 4 trees in it. Let us know how it turns out. Then we will have data on the East.

I added a link that also advises against it without any evidence other than naysaying. Experiment. If it is really so bad you will know in 2-3 years and let us know.

Remember roots are sluts...they will fuse with every other root and form a cohesive community underground AND competition is good to both control fruit tree size, produce more fruit per area/volume and produce fruit earlier in the life of a tree. Be nasty to your tree.

Here is a link that might be useful: Someone who agrees with harvestman

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 8:40PM
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Man, you're killing me --but now we're getting somewhere. :)

Adams County Nursery is a sister nursery to DWN. They have high density rootstock recommendations:
Apple Rootstocks
There is other high density planting info out there:
A High Density Apple Production System for the Home Garden
Note: There is a UMASS video on this page with 3-4 ft spacing.

I understand there are local differences, you are going to have to do your own due diligence on what that entails. To throw your hands up in the air and proclaim that high density planting won't work in your area is an assumption on your part. I now turn the discussion over to scottfsmith or anyone else willing to deep dive with you on this matter.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 8:45PM
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alan haigh

There is no point to this discussion if you don't read and respond to the specific points I'm making. The UMass video is about planting apples on M9 rootsocks. I'm not going to repeat for the third time the points I'm making- go back and read carefully. 4' spacing between 8-10' rows is standard apple production methodology as I've already more or less said, but on FULLY DWARFING (like M9) rootstock.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 9:18PM
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We all have to find the answers that apply to our locale for ourselves. You have found contempt for everything I've tried to offer so far. UMASS calls it high density planting, you call it standard methodology but on dwarfing rootstocks. I say differences in your locale may call for dwarfing rootstocks, you want to get hung up on the BYOC use of regular rootstocks. 3' to 4' spacing is high density planting ANYWHERE and on ANY rootstock. You want 20 year scientific studies knowing that they would never exist for backyard culture. All the while people are using high density planting techniques in your area right under your nose.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 9:50PM
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alan haigh

Scott is as research savvy as anyone on this site. He understands the conditions here and has a great deal of experience using methods proscribed by Dave Wilson as well as high intelligence and dedication to sorting out what works and why. He understands the points I'm trying to make- you are somehow oblivious and seem to think I'm somehow missing your point in the same way. You and I have a bit of history here of this being how our correspondence plays out.

If the point you are trying to make is that when one plants trees on dwarfing rootstocks they should be spaced at distances in ratio to their relative vigor, I agree whole heartedly, although it seems an obvious point.

I didn't think this discussion was about the comparitive virtues of dwarfing vs vigorous rootstocks, but that is an interesting topic for another thread.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 7:33AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

DWN sells a number of dwarfing root stocks, Newroot1 looks like a good one for cherries. CA is hardly ideal for apples and cherries. I actually think BYOC would work a hell of a lot better in Zone 6. A lot of the trees sold at DWT are on citation, and that dwarfs the heck out of peach trees.
You can get them on other root stocks, but most seem to be on citation. They are now allowing the trees to be put on any rootstock realizing they cannot supply the best possible root stocks for all areas.My one complaint is the poor zone ratings, they keep lowering them. I bought Arctic Glo because it will grow here. I really wanted Arctic Jay, but it was rated to zone 7 only. Well it is now rated to zone 6! Argh! Well turns out Arctic Glo is awesome too! I'm so glad I bought it! Like others say we need to try them here anyway to figure what will work here. Opening the trees to any root stock will facilitate more sales, and more info on range of these fantastic trees.
I myself think the contribution of BYOC has made growers think outside the box. I was thinking I could only fit two or three trees, and that I would have too much fruit. Growing them small, and limiting production, having them ripen throughout the season was something I really didn't think about. Well sort of knew about successive ripening from Michigan's Paul Friday of Flamiin' Fury fame who certainly promotes all season ripeness' with his excellent line of peaches, nectarines and plums too! Which I also grow. Anyway I have 6 trees now. I don't care for the close spacing myself, but BYOC says do what works for you. So instead of the traditional spacing mine are a bit closer at 8 feet apart, and will be kept at 8 feet tall. Thanks to learning BYOC and the key principal that I determine height and spacing to what fit my needs, I will have fruit all growing season and more varieties then I thought possible before BYOC. I could space them closer, but any spacing is acceptable in BYOC, that's the grower's choice!. One tree is a 4 N 1 too. Not all like these multi-graft types, but reading about how well 15 year old 4 N 1's performed convinced me it was worth the attention needed to grow properly. At first I was not convinced. But further study for 6 months showed it could work. It works great for me, all that matters.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Mon, Mar 25, 13 at 2:01

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 7:33PM
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alan haigh

And you may have a decent idea what works for you after 10 years or so. It's a fun journey but a more direct route can be found if you listen closely to, though not necessarily always follow, the advice of those in your region who've already made the trip. Of course, some people need to find out for themselves, even if it takes longer that way.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 8:44PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"And you may have a decent idea what works for you after 10 years or so. It's a fun journey but a more direct route can be found if you listen closely to, though not necessarily always follow, the advice of those in your region who've already made the trip. Of course, some people need to find out for themselves, even if it takes longer that way."

I agree. I contacted Michigan State University extension service about cultivar's, root stocks to use, and disease defense strategies. Long before I purchased any plants. 50% of my BYOC trees were developed in Michigan, they are not DWN trees. Although most DWN trees can and should be grown here. I have been growing plants for 38 years. Mostly cactus and tropical's in Michigan. I have tropical plants that are well over 30 years old. I recently expanded to edibles, about 5 years ago. I needed another challenge. I waited 30 years for some of my cacti to flower. The cacti finally matured enough to do so. I needed a new challenge. Edibles though seems like a piece of cake, I'm getting old, so a minor challenge seemed appropriate. I'm certainly new to edibles, but I'm experienced and educated (MSU is my alma mater).
I started 5 years ago with berry plants, they are easy and rewarding. I needed though something a bit more of a challenge, and fruit trees fits the bill. Although I'm not new to growing them either. I have grown cherry and peach trees before when I was young.
DWN is a fantastic operation. I also like the trees and plants the University of Saskatchewan has developed. As mentioned the 52 years of research Paul Friday has done with amazing results has not gone unnoticed by me either. At my cottage and in my yard I have trees that represent over 170 years of research. I only grow 6 trees (9 varieties) in my yard here. I have been growing various hardwoods and such for 20 years at my cottage. I recently added fruit trees there too. I still have room for more.
Recently I have been fascinated by some ornamentals. Variegated trees, and contorted trees. Variegated trees are harder to grow, but are beautiful. Worth the challenge! Bamboo too, I like the various grasses, and bamboo is an interesting grass. Many cultivars will grow here. I'm adding one this spring. But a few have my eye.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Sun, Mar 24, 13 at 23:06

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 10:34PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

To stay on subject, I'm familiar with Cupid, part of the Romance series. I myself would not do 4 in one hole. Since these plants are natural dwarfs and what you would call Bush Cherries. On their own roots. They are excellent plants btw, good choice!
Prune in spring and summer only, so you have to do shaping during these times. Fungicides after pruning may be a good idea. I would prune and use copper in the spring before bud break, after last hard freeze. After summer pruning use sulfur. They can be shaped as trees, but tend to form bushes. Since these are naturally about 6 feet tall and 6 ft wide, I would not do 4 in 1, they are already fairly small plants! I guess you could though all the same train as 4 small trees. I wouldn't do one large bush with 4 as the air circulation would be poor. Good luck, keep us updated!
Well heck you could keep them as bushes, just keep that interior between plants open! I would do a 3 ft spacing if possible (4x4 area), bet they will look awesome! They can be used to make an edible hedge too!

Here's some info on Cupid!

Black to dark red
Most years it is the largest of all sour cherries
6.5g fruit
Good balanced flavour for fresh eating
Consistent but moderate producer
Blooms 1 week later than other varieties earning it the nickname 'Big & Late'
Few suckers
Pits are large enough for old fashioned crank pitters
Fruit too large for standard commercial sour cherry pitters
Very different genetically from all other U of Sk sour cherry cultivars

I don't have Cupid, but have Carmine Jewel and Crimson Passion U of Sk sour cherry cultivars. Maybe down the road we can trade cuttings or suckers!

This post was edited by Drew51 on Mon, Mar 25, 13 at 1:20

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 12:31AM
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alan haigh

Drew, you sound like a passionate and strategic gardener. Still, I would have to question that most of Dave Wilson's creations can and should be grown here. Many of the pluots seem very unproductive in the northeast and I would say that some of the white peaches may not be to everyone's taste. I started growing White Lady about 12 years ago- it is productive here but many find the low acid flavor pretty flat.

I grow a couple of their nectarines that do very well here but they had already been vetted by Adams County Nursery.

I've read that pluots are actually very challenging to commercial growers even on the west coast in an article in Good Fruit magazine.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 6:14AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

We agree more than disagree. All your points are correct! Low acid fruits have no appeal to me. My favorite fruit is currants! I think when you balance currants' tartness, they are better than raspberries or strawberries. I grow 6 varieties.
The nectarines that attracted me are Arctic Glo, Arctic Jay, and Zee Glo. All are high acid white nectarines. None of the white peaches sound good except the heirloom they offer. Indian Free, which was grown by Thomas Jefferson. It is a late maturing tart white peach. Getting sweet only when fully ripe. I have pointed out to DWN on their forums that the taste test winners are usually a balanced fruit.
Pluots are not that well received commercially. Not many are being grown. I don't like the idea of them keeping cultivars only for commercial growers too. 7 or 8 are not available to home growers, and that just plain sucks. I guess are worried about copyright infringement or other such nonsense. I think they do it to entice commercial growers. Which is silly, no home growers will compete against the big boys.

It would be a good idea for us here to use Adams County Nursery to purchase these fruits, as you have made all the points as to why.

The promotion of pluots to new growers is a huge mistake. These should be fruits you get after you know what're doing. Needing pollinators, difficult to set fruit in some varieties, you need to hand pollinate those! I have seen posts from new growers asking why their one tree will not fruit. No doubt all of the interspecifics are experimental. We agree there too! I'm the type who likes to experiment and grow challenging plants. It's what I have done my whole life. So yes, I have pluots! I can grow any fruit, tropical's etc here. I know what I'm doing. I have developed techniques to grow tropical's here. Often in the ground, not just in pots. I found it is better to do the bare root thing. Remove them before hard freezes, and when dormant and store as bare root till spring. Replant in spring. Yeah best to do it with small cultivars! Most of my cacti are not in dirt right now! I have learned what to do to keep them alive in dormancy, out of dirt. I plant them in the spring. I do grow one cactus, an Opuntia (prickly pear) cultivar that dehydrates in winter, so it can be left outside. It has been in my garden since 1974. I think it is native to Michigan.

I also though do not want to throw the baby out with the bath water, the BYOC concept is a good idea. For years backyard growers are given advice really meant for commercial growers. It's about time backyard growers develop their own culture and infrastructure with the help of nurseries like DWN and Adams.
I don't fault them for trying to make a lot of money. We all want to make a lot of money. If they do not service their customers properly they will fail. You have made excellent points and have illustrated their weak points, and we agree there for sure. I have directly talked to them about all you mention. They do respond, such as opening up any root stock for their trees now. So Adams can put any root stock best suited for their local customers.
Floyd Zaiger and Paul Friday are people who have changed the fruit world for the better. I encourage people to buy their products to support the effort to develop new and useful cultivars. Leaving this work only to the Universities is a mistake.
If they only develop one cultivar that is worthwhile, it is still worth it! Many of the Zaiger products do not appeal to me at all, but some are magnificent!

As far as east coast/ west coast, I want to let the west coast know we are up for a challenge as to whom can grow the best, bring in on dudes! I'm going to grow your cultivars, and make them grow faster, and taste better than you can. They are doing the same with our cultivars! All in fun of course. I encourage them to try and grow our cultivars there. They will be in for a huge surprise, and some great tasting fruit.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Mon, Mar 25, 13 at 10:34

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 9:56AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Drew, while I agree with most of your points I would not say BYOC completely lets you choose your own size. I thought so when I started and tried extremely close spacings but have not been happy with them. I did straight rows as close as 2.5' and those were fine. The mistakes I made were all with zig-zag plantings which as you went down the row had trees either 1' or 1.5' apart (they were ~1.5' or ~2' between trunks in the zig-zag which means as you walk down the row there is a tree every 1' or 1.5'). In general I don't think any zig-zag is a very good idea, it invites overcrowding. Just do a straight row at 2.5' if you want things maximally close.


PS one more thing, don't graft too many varieties on top of such close plantings, either! I once had a dozen varieties on a single tree in a 3'-spaced row. Needless to say, it didn't work.

This post was edited by scottfsmith on Mon, Mar 25, 13 at 13:00

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 12:58PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a


Well you did decide, although it looks like it was a poor decision :)
I'm not much into the close spacing, but I like the idea of closer spacing's. No need to do 10-15 feet apart. The multi-grafts, and espalier techniques make sense for backyards. I take what works and throw out the rest. Yeah 4 grafts is max for me. I saw some 15-20 year old 4N1 trees, and they looked great! On mine the most vigorous cultivar has the north end, and the weakest the south. All I want is it to work for about 15 years. After that I will be out of this house.I know many have lost grafts, and never balanced them, so they didn't work. Since I can't graft patented varieties, if any grafts die, I may buy the full tree, and graft a scion/bud later when the patent runs out. Or add a non-patented cultivar. I would rather have the whole tree, but room is a problem. I don't need a lot of cultivars, I have 9 now, that is plenty, from early to late season too. So I will not be adding anymore. At my cottage 36 miles away, I may add a few more that interest me, but I have lot's of berries to raise too. The yard is full, my dog isn't happy with all the space I took up! The rest is his.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 2:28PM
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alan haigh

Drew, I can see that you are bright and imaginative. Clearly someone with the deductive reasoning required to solve problems in an original manner. I'm curious how long you've been involved with growing fruit.

Your very confident tone makes me think you haven't had mother nature kick your ass around the block too many times (yet).

How you gonna get the brix that a west coast grower can with their uninterrupted sun and absolute irrigation control.

Welcome to Garden Web, I think you will be an enjoyable presence here.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 6:04PM
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I so wanted to jump in here with some far reaching what ifs. Wife told my if I couldn't play nice don't play. It has been a good read.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 7:30PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"Your very confident tone makes me think you haven't had mother nature kick your ass around the block too many times (yet)."

Well it has, yes, I have had major set backs with blueberries, but it was the dog, not mother nature! Jesse the wonder dog pretty much destroyed my crop this winter. Looking for survivors this spring. Yes, I have to take back that growing fruit is easy, it is not!
I actually like tart fruit much better, I'm also thinking the extremely sweet pluots might be better here, such as Flavor Queen.
The early varieties, will not be as good here, no doubt. The late varieties, could be better here. We get very dry summers, so I can increase brix by keeping them barely alive with sparse water.
I have been growing more fruit recently for 5 years. I have grown grapes for 35 years. It was hard, but last fall I destroyed my 4 grape vines. I want to try some new varieties, they were all seeded varieties, I barely used them. My dad used to make wine with them, but he has been gone for 11 years, and I don't have anybody else to give them to anymore. All I could think about was my dad, it was hard to remove them, and my wife is still in shock that I did. I used to make jam, but the raspberry and currant jams I make now are so much better. I will be planting one table variety this spring. Einset. I may add Summer Royal next year, the other spots will be filled with upright thornless blackberries. Navaho, and Apache.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Tue, Mar 26, 13 at 1:27

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 1:10AM
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alan haigh

High brix is not the equivalent of cloyingly sweet. Goldrush is as high brix as Fuji and most really good (by my tastes) tart fruit has a lot of sugar to back up the acid for a very full and complex flavor.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 6:53AM
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There is one thing I havnt seen mentioned yet.

The quality of your soil apparently can make a huge different in high density plantings. Im pretty sure my garden is concidered such. I have 6 fruit trees in 70 feet (not squared, in a line), with one russian olive. It only makes sense that so many trees close together compete to a degree.

Ive also read certain tree roots dislike being close to the same species. I do believe that the one mentioned was the cherry. The diagrams i seen showed the roots growing away from each other. As far as I understand it, you can cut down competition with having good soil, or at least having nutrients available. The same diagram showed root growth in good and bad soil, in which the roots in good soil stayed near the drip line of the tree, where the one in "worse" soil were more adventurous, going well beyond the drop line.

@Drew - I have been told many times certain things cant grow here due to climate. While there are many instances where the general information is sound, many things have not been tried in many areas.

Im in zone 4 N Ontario. By the books Im zone 3, but im close to a lake, so the temps are moderated in my yard. I was told Bamboo would not grow here in the summer even - wrongly. I was also told fruit trees would be impossible, even though plants bred in Uni of Sask, and Uni of Minnisota are bread to withstand WORSE climates then my own.

Climate wise, you do have to be careful about what you grow. The worse I have read about are apples growing in humid mild climates with lots of rain. They require more care in, say maryland, then they would in Vancouver, simply because the requirements for fungal infections generally arent there. The same goes for houseplants. Majesty palms, while gorgeous do horrible in house conditions, unless you work to keep the humidity up and have tons of heat and light. Its possible, you just have to work at it.

Then on the opposite side of things; Blueberries are wild here, there are around 5 types just around the city alone. You would think 2 things: 1) That my soil is naturally acidic 2)That blueberries should grow like weeds.

Turns out, I wiped out 5 bushes, even with good watering, and planting them in peat and pine needles. I cant get them to grow to save my life, even though by all intensive purposes, I should have no problem.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 7:53AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"High brix is not the equivalent of cloyingly sweet. Goldrush is as high brix as Fuji and most really good (by my tastes) tart fruit has a lot of sugar to back up the acid for a very full and complex flavor."

Of course, I was just responding to your comment about competing with the brix levels on the West Coast. It is possible here with our dry summers to produce decent numbers.

Acid fruit can be a pain if not enough sugar as you mention, but I cook a lot with fruit, so I do whatever needs to be done to balance out. Often needing sugar to prepare, I like to start with tart fruit. I'll cook with any stone fruit that is too tart for fresh eating. I probably will harvest some early for cooking.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 9:42AM
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alan haigh

No kidding! Black currants make the best preserves in the world, in my opinion.

I don't usually have dry summers here in SE NY- when I do, the quality of the fruit goes way up. I've even considered trying to use sheet plastic to pull water away from roots late in the ripening process.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:20AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a


Sometimes the fun is figuring out why, as once you do, it is rewarding. But yeah I have given up on plants too. Blueberries are tough, I struggled with them too. I now have to start over. I only had 3 plants. I have chicken wire around them for now. I'm still constructing raised beds nearby. I'm putting a raspberry bed behind these raised beds, and I left the area open and Jesse got in and ripped them all up. I bought one replacement, but need to replace the other two yet. Sucks starting over as I was just getting decent fruit.
I'm not a huge fan of super close spacing, mine are at 8 feet, not all in a row (4 are), but all are 8 feet apart. Two are in other open areas.
I grow cherries, but at my cottage, and use Gisela rootstock, which is a challenging rootstock to use. pruning them is more about controlling vigor than keeping them small, although small size is a side effect of the pruning.
My cottage environment and my house are different. The cottage is 300 yards away from the St Clair River. it is super moist there.
The soil is clay, but a good 2 ft of top soil is there from the old growth oak and maples dropping leaves for hundreds of years. I get about 7 yards of leaves per lot. It is going to be difficult to keep fungal problems in check. It's a matter of getting the right cultivars for the environment.
I guess my statements about the DWN trees is that they are trees that grow well here, we have plenty of peaches, cherries, nectarines, apricots and plums here, and all the Interspecifics are from this stock. No reason they cannot do well here. I believe MI is the 2nd largest producer of cherries. Peaches are from China, not native to the Americas, glad we tried to grow them here!!! So yeah I'm very confident I can grow anything that appeals to me from DWN. I'm going to add a Pluerry tree down the road. I would rather grow sand cherry x plum crosses, but they are impossible to obtain in the USA, nobody has them. Of course I'll leave the Pomegranates to the West Coast.
I'm sure I could make them work, bring them inside, or in a greenhouse, but the fruit would not be great.
Even though I like a challenge, it is best to grow fruit that will work well in your environment. I guess where I disagree with others is that somehow these California cultivars are not for this environment, I disagree 100%. Tested or not, they are not exotic trees. They are temperate zone trees.
Michigan has been kicking California's ass in wine lately. As they too are temperate fruits. MI is the same parallel as Bordeaux France. I think that is the area in France? One of those wine producing areas anyway. Now that our vines are of a decent age, we are winning international awards left and right.
Back to DWN, deep down in those genetics are trees that are from a more temperate area, so I really believe I have a decent chance that some cultivars will be superior grown here.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Tue, Mar 26, 13 at 10:54

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:46AM
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I love to see people push the envelope, experiment and see what can be done to make things work....there is alot a backyard grower can get away with that simply would not be practical for commercial production.

That being said, I think a large part of the east coast/west coast issue is not about survivability or even brix (although both are relevant).But the seasonal disease and pest pressures are radically different and breeders can only focus on so much at once...I think that will be one of the big hurdles you will find (and possibly overcome), especially in stone fruit.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 5:08PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

It's hard to find the perfect tree. One I picked was Indian Free Peach. The hanging fruit is dark, and not very good looking, but the white interior and crimson streaks are interesting. But that's not why I liked this cultivar. I needed a late season variety, it is resistant to leaf curl, and it has an excellent balance of acid and sugar. Ironic as this heirloom has the overall highest score at the DWN test tastes. Not an easy tree to grow though. So I expect to struggle with this one. I added Lucky 13 also, a good example of the MI Flamin' Fury series. A classic yellow peach with excellent flavor. Very disease resistant, long shelf life, huge, beautiful looking. Easy to grow. I picked peaches as they are probably the easiest stone fruit to grow. I also snuck in a Nectaplum. And Arctic Glo nectarine as mentioned earlier. Which is known to grow well here.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Wed, Mar 27, 13 at 1:10

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 5:45PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Mother Nature

Looking at other grower's results has helped me maintain good yields. it seems most lost crop is due to neglect, and animals.
You can solve those problems, at least the backyard grower can as we have so few plants, not that hard to protect or maintain!
I didn't have any cherries last year because of a hard freeze, but I could have saved them, I was out of town. So I hard pruned last year to concentrate on shape, and root structure of the young trees. They look great now. I only have 4 trees, so not that hard to protect. My trees surround a large fire pit. If I was at my cottage, I could have had a large enough fire to keep them warm. And/or keep river water on them the whole time. I currently have about 6 cords of maple and oak up there. I'm in the middle of an old growth forest.
When I have disease or insect problems I consult with MSU, they have given me proven strategies to try, so far all have worked.
Experience battling various diseases with the tropical's has given me an eye for spotting problems early. Being observant, and diagnosing problems early is helpful. Yes, experience is great, no doubt!
Currently I'm battling Japanese beetles. Tough fight, but they don't stand a chance. I will keep attacking them now, on the offensive. I don't want to just keep them off my plants, I want to eliminate them from the island. The island is not that big, so I looked for grub damaged areas on and off my property and attacked the beasts! I will do it again this year and every year till they are eliminated. I'm using milky spore and nematodes.


My biggest problem with them is the PH. I solved it by using 5-1-1 mix, no lime though, add sulfur. Some slow release fertilizer, also fertilize with ammonium sulfate. Prepare a year in advance, so sulfur has time to work. Use rain water unless your city or well is not high. Mine is at 7.8. It was enough to slow growth until I figured out what was increasing my PH. If you use any type of potting soil or garden soil, make sure it doesn't have lime, that will really slow growth too! Better yet don't use it. Mine are in 1 ft raised beds. They grow like weeds now. Seem to have no other problems. Well except my dog!
I'm sure in some places inappropriate cultivars, or soil born pathogens or insects that like blueberries could be an issue. If you compromise on anything expect mixed results. When times of no rain amend your water, acid is best, vinegar is better than without anything.
Let the plants establish, when bigger they are tougher, worth a year or two wait for berries. Remove buds at least the 1st year if not the 2nd!
Mulch the plants with acidic mulch. pine chips, pine straw, cypress mulch. I use pine straw as my in-laws live in upper MI and have hundreds of pine trees. I harvest every visit! Store for a year or over winter (the oil in them can slow growth, I try to grab the older ones, but still air our at least over winter). I use them with my strawberries too.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Wed, Mar 27, 13 at 2:23

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 2:06AM
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Just curious if the original poster (fireweed22) feels as though his question had been answered. And if they have enough info to move forward one way or the other?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 12:07AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"Just curious if the original poster (fireweed22) feels as though his question had been answered. And if they have enough info to move forward one way or the other?"

Yeah we kind of hijacked this thread, but I did give an answer, and it was extensive.
Thanks to all, you guys are so experienced. Thanks so much for being here. Harvestman, wow, I have been reading old threads, and I have learned so much from you. Thanks very much. What a fantastic resource this place is! Also to all the other really experienced growers who walk the walk, I'm such a newbie, I'll shut up now....

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 1:35AM
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alan haigh

The only thing I consider a hijack is when someone posts an entirely different question early in someone else's thread- otherwise it is just conversation generated by the question.

I can only worry about Fireweed so much as Fireweed participates.

Thanks Drew. I don't give any more than I get, though.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 6:12AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

One thing that hasn't been mentioned about 3-4 trees/hole is that I've heard of problems with some of those trees more prone to blow-over in windy climates (like mine). The roots of each tree supposedly grow more directional w/ 3-4 trees/hole (instead of flaring out in a circle) which doesn't give as good anchorage.

"The only thing I consider a hijack is when someone posts an entirely different question early in someone else's thread- otherwise it is just conversation generated by the question."

That's pretty much my sentiment too, but I'm probably one of the worst "hijackers". My view is that threads are more a conversation and hold to the same conventions as conversations (i.e. don't force-ably change the subject in an abrupt rude way, don't insult people, etc). But conversations by nature are dynamic and rarely cling rigidly to specific minutiae of a subject (which would be more like a debate or lecture) rather they seem to have a flow as people share their thoughts.

That's my thought anyway, but I know others are a little more black and white about it.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 10:21AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Mr Clint, you just hijacked this thread, now we are talking about hijacking threads :-)

Seriously, one thing I like about GW is its a chat group, not some straightjacket place with lots of rules.

Getting back to the subject, my personal impression is blow-over is if anything less of a problem on the 4-in-1, the roots basically knit together like a basket. This creates a webbing of mutual support for all the trees. I saw this on a 3-way I dug up. I also didn't notice any sort of "zone" for the roots of each tree, they were just growing over each other willy-nilly.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 11:17AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

". I also didn't notice any sort of "zone" for the roots of each tree, they were just growing over each other willy-nilly. "

You may be right Scott. I've never tried to grow 3-4 trees/hole myself. When I was on the Nafex forum there was a guy in NE who tried multiple trees/hole and didn't like it for the reason I outlined above, so I was just repeating the problem he said he had with it.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 4:37PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I haven't done any 3/4 per hole stands- mostly rows. But wouldn't a single post in the center provide pretty good support in the scenario Olpea describes? If the roots all grow out from the stand, to avoid the other roots (with few growing toward the center) and the tops all lean out a bit (to get to the sun), tying them all to the central post could let them support each other, as their outward forces would be balanced out.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 9:03PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

We need more time and more people trying it to get better data. Also certain trees may like to grow together. At my cottage which is just a small island with no cars allowed, was an old growth forest. Still is in spots, no matter where you dig, you hit roots.You'll need an axe! When I plant there I did large holes to remove all the roots, and give the new plant room. Talk about back breaking hard work! If the plant cannot exist with other roots, it will not make it. Seems to me a forest appears to be 4000 plus in one hole. :) I have not really worked long with fruit trees, but hardwoods seem to grow and tangle around it other like crazy, they try to smother each other out.Fruit trees are hardwoods too.
My guess is Scott's observations is the norm, and blow over the exception. Plus it's from the horse's mouth, not what somebody else said about somebody else, who once read it in a book.

I have seen lot's of trees blow over, and usually they are comprimised in some way. Except for that tornado one year. It was kind of cool, bouncing off the tops of 120 ft trees and ripping just the top 50 feet off, wow! One of the tops speared my roof, then right though the wall

This post was edited by Drew51 on Sat, Mar 30, 13 at 1:32

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 1:19AM
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To me, your statement "My guess is Scott's observations is the norm, and blow over the exception. Plus it's from the horse's mouth, not what somebody else said about somebody else, who once read it in a book." does not come across too well.

While you seemed to praise Scott, your statement appeared to put others down. We try to give our best suggestions to others on this forum, be it from our actual experiences or not.

"Somebody else said about somebody else" - who knows? that "someboday else" could be Floyd Zaiger or Paul Friday who you seem to admire a great deal. A book they read could be written by someone who actually knows how to grow fruit trees.

Maybe, it's too early or I am too sensitive or both.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 7:29AM
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Mamuang, your points have struck pure gold with me. When I first started posting on GW back in 1995, there was a lot of resistance to BYOC or high intensity planting. It was a bit like bringing fire to the cave back then. I'm not saying that I forced its acceptance, but I certainly rode in on the wave that made it a topic of discussion here.

So what were the knocks against BYOC back then as opposed to now? There's no difference at all from people who prefer to wear their own experience as a badge of honor that trumps all other human knowledge. Surely buggy whip makers had this attitude toward auto-workers back in the day. The charge that DWN developed this technique only to sell more trees was brought up once again in this thread. It is a false assumption because if it didn't work it would negatively impact sales. At no time does DWN say that you must use their trees or specific rootstocks for this approach. My first BYOC planting was with 3 to 1 hole seedling rootstock trees bought at Costco (planted on 18" centers and still going strong).

If there is one thing for folks to take away from this thread it is to do your own homework, and consider BYOC as just another approach to consider. There is so much more info out there now than there was in 1995 -- that it's almost absurd to still discuss it as if it is some kind of experimental method.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 11:38PM
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alan haigh

I think Drew maybe getting flack for some built in resentment here- his comment is on the face of it quite innocent to my interpretation.

I, on the other hand, have drawn offense for calling out people who rely on the authority of the net to "prove" a point when I believe they really don't have the experience to accurately interpret what they've read. I've learned to tone this down a bit, but it is still sometimes irritating when I have real world experience literally hundreds of times that of someone I may be arguing a point with and they are convinced they are on equal footing because they've read something and interpreted it rigidly. Of course that is only my interpretation and their interpretation would be completely different but equally legitimate or equally illegitimate.

On the internet there is no clear way to determine expertise, whether it comes form a participant on a forum or some page distributed by a university extension. Over time on a forum the participants themselves tend to determine whose word may carry more weight and different members will choose favorites, hopefully based on the results of following advice.

Part of this is the usual ego driven pecking behavior of humans through the prism of the internet, but many motives are in play. We all want to be respected and we also want to be helpful and usually the two desires play together. We also have limited eyesight when it comes to interpreting our own motives.

It may help our understanding if we understand the limitations of our understanding.

You are welcome, Grasshopper.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 6:39AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"Maybe, it's too early or I am too sensitive or both. "

No you are correct, it was a joke in poor taste (once read it in a book). My apologies to Olpea who has much more experience than I do, and whose word weighs a lot more than mine, no doubt. Her posts are fantastic, and it was extremely rude of me, again sorry.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Sun, Mar 31, 13 at 7:12

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 7:09AM
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Thank you very much for understanding. I did not intend it to be for broader interpretation but I can see that both Mr. Clint and Harvestman have good points.

I just felt that your joke could be seen as a swipe to Olpea who just posted how he got the info right after Scott's. (many of us could have done the same things as Olpea-trying to be helpful)

Thanking your again for your understanding.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 7:47AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

BYOC is knocked for various reasons, but even if trees are only viable for 10 years, the traditional growers are only making it to 30. When the plant probably can live for thousands of years. Cuttings and clones retain their true age. Which is measured from original seed sprout. Most trees sold today seem to be cuttings, so they are getting very old! It seems environmental stress is what kills the trees, not it's true age! So the traditional growers only keeping a tree that can live 2 thousand years only alive for 30 should not be bragging!
A good example of age retention was recently seen in a Bamboo cultivar. These grasses bloom in about 120 years, then die. A bamboo brought back from China around 1880 was Fargesia nitida. Cuttings, suckers and clones were spread through out the USA and Europe. Well every single one, tens of thousands of plants all have bloomed recently within about 5 years time once all cuttings were mature enough to flower. A mass extinction of Nitida clones occurred. So obviously a plant's true age starts when seed spouts and is retained in every clone, cutting or sucker.

So if you're still with me, it seems to me even traditional orchard methods are not very successful. So those in glass houses should not be throwing stones.
It also brings up a question is it really such a good idea to be producing all these trees from cuttings and not seed?
Are we going to see such mass extinctions in fruit trees once they reach a certain age?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 7:58AM
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alan haigh

Companies sell BS all the time that might threaten their long term sales in order to increase immediate sales- it is practically a paradign for corporate method. Managers tend to think year to year.

I watched a Zaiger sales demonstration at the Rare Fruits and Nafex annual meeting in Santa Cruz a few years back, and the sales reps were so full of goofy-over-the-top-hyper hype and basically dishonest in the representation of what actually are quality products, that all the experienced growers I spoke with were put off. It was like one of those late night TV slicem and dicem commercials.

Anyone that is trying to sell you something should be viewed with a certain level of skepticism.

Mr. Clint, your support of the Dave Wilson method is obviously sincere but how you represent my take is offensive to me. I've never said the method is without virtue, but there are certain draw backs that should be considered and your claim that all that has been sorted out in the humid regions is at least legitimately debatable.

The response right here of growers who've experimented with this method pretty well demonstrates my point, I think.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 10:09AM
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alan haigh

Oh, and olpea is definitely male.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 10:10AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

'Her posts are fantastic, and it was extremely rude of me, again sorry.'

'Oh, and olpea is definitely male.'

It's not the first time I've been mistaken for a woman on GardenWeb, and when it happens it totally cracks me up :-)

I feel like I have a fairly masculine writing style so I don't understand the confusion, but evidently something I write is confusing to others. The whole thing is so funny to me.

Drew, if interested you can see a picture of me on my Website below. Definitely a man.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tubby Fruits

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Just some clarification on bamboo.

The vast majority of bamboo in cultivation ( nitida is a good example) were all cultivated from one or 2 plants. Bamboo also spreads my rhizomes, which are essentially clones, which means they all will flower at the same general time. Fargesia has evolved to flower once every 100 years or so.

Grafted trees, while clones are different. Fruit trees evolved to flower every year, it is the trees primary way of reproducing (generally speaking of course). Trees and bamboo (grass) evolved differently and I dont think its fair to compare the 2 in the say they were...

Also, This is definitely a stupid question, but what are/is "BYOC"..... I keep thinking "dont fear the reaper" :P

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 11:34AM
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Tony(Zone 5. Omaha, Nebraska)


BYOC=Backyard Orchard Culture.


Here is a link that might be useful: BYOC

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 12:13PM
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I have been growing fruit in this style over 30 years. H-Man is right about pruning. What works in Cali does not necessarily work in the East. You have to prune much more than normal when growing one hole and/or close. Should also have disease resistant varieties. If you prune a non-disease resistant variety at the wrong time, you may lose your tree.....don't ask how I know. If you are not in a disease prone area, you should be O'K. I lived in Southern Cali disease, bugs nor humidity....nothing like here.

The main deterrent to the one hole or close proximity that I have found is spraying for insects. One tree may be ready, but two others very near it may be in full bloom. I waited till Saturday to spray my Beauty plum for PC and everything near it is in full bloom. Could not wait any longer and today I noticed quite a few plums are already scored.

Used to lose 80% of my plums to PC. After using Once and Done very little PC damage. May have waited too late this year. Will spray again next Saturday and hope it works.

As stated if you are not in a disease or bug prone area the one hole or close proximity works very well. Forgot to mention that the majority of my plants are on dwarfing rootstock.......bud9, G11, G16, G65, flying dragon.....but I still have to prune. I keep most of my trees under 6 feet. Also you can control the citrus on sour orange very well with pruning and 3 to 4 inches of crushed granite at the rootball.......will not have East Texas soil problems. Will also get very sweet citrus.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 4:02PM
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This is no longer the world of our Fathers. I can say this because I can remember when it was their world. I loved my Dad and his generation, and I have no residual unresolved issues toward him, them, or the way that they operated. Things were simpler then because personal experience, trial and error, and generational "knowledge" trumped all. But this was also a generation saddled with various prejudices, old wives tales and, "I do this because that's what I was taught" justifications. For better or worse, it was a narrower view of the world than we have today.

Fast forward to today and we can see the wisdom and expertise of our Fathers, plus maybe an experienced author, vendor or Internet blog poster as well. We have so many more inputs now. The view is much broader, and the options more abundant.

And that fellow bloggers is all I've offered -- an option for your consideration. This is not my idea, and not even my argument. Your argument, if you have one, is with the multitudes of videos, articles and people that make it a reality. You can frame these discussions as city vs rural, red state vs blue state, North vs South, etc, but there are success stories coming from people living next door to you.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 12:17AM
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alan haigh

Mr. Clint, it is an interesting point to suggest that this discussion is a debate between those who embrace new technology and those who believe the traditional ways are always best and reluctant to try new things.

In my nursery I grow my trees in Whitcomb bags- a newer technology and have never used metal and burlap baskets. In nutrition I've never followed traditional notions such as P feeds the roots and N feeds the tops and instead follow the current research analysis of best methods. My pest control strategies are based on the latest research and include many products patented in this century.

I grow the newest varieties when they are better and traditional varieties where they have advantages. I follow the latest research on training methods and what works for me I use.

The discussion of multiple trees in one hole is not about new methods vs old for me- just about what works "best" in my conditions. Of course, what is best for one grower may not be for another, but the discussion is useful- particularly if we stick to relevant arguments and not try to pigeon hole one or the other side as being backwards in their thinking because they have another view.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 6:11AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"Grafted trees, while clones are different. Fruit trees evolved to flower every year, it is the trees primary way of reproducing (generally speaking of course). Trees and bamboo (grass) evolved differently and I don't think its fair to compare the 2 "

I know they are way different, and I wasn't really comparing. I was asking if age is going to be a factor? The grasses are millions, hundreds of millions of years older than the flowering trees. Flowering trees arose about the same time mammals became dominant. My Botany professor often thought that flowering plants may have contributed to the extinction of dinosaurs. As the main food source for plant eaters was conifers in tropical zones. Most conifers these days only survive in the colder regions not as well colonized by the flowering plants.
My concern is about an unknown death gene that may be triggered with age, not flowering as it is in the bamboo grasses.
I guess I used the bamboo an an example of the so called death gene. It's possible this has no bearing on the flowering plants.
Cultural practice of cloning is more interesting concerning bananas, as the possible extinction of our main cultivar is looming. The monoculture of cloning to propagate has come back to haunt us. Luckily stone fruits are defined by their seed. No seeds in bananas and other fruits may not be a good idea! A new mutated fungus has wiped out all "Cavendish" banana trees in Australia and China. It has yet to hit South America. Also this has happened before with bananas when we didn't use Cavendish as our main cultivar. Cavendish was discovered and used instead at that time. History is about ready to repeat itself. Same fungus too, just mutated.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 8:30AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"Drew, if interested you can see a picture of me on my Website below. Definitely a man."

My mouth is getting awfully sore, as I seem to now have both feet in it! :)

Sorry again, reading so many messages lately as I'm new here, and trying to learn, I got some of your comments mixed up with others. Those "others" being female.
A shame in a way as i would much rather talk to females, men are boring know it alls. Not saying you are, but in general. I better just be quiet and cut my losses...

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 8:43AM
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alan haigh

Yeah, you sexist pig- plenty of men don't specialize in hubris- It's just those that do tend to want to run the world and seem to be running it badly.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 11:09AM
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Not all experience is equal, no matter how many years or methods we are talking about. It is preferable to have a few years of experience with the desired results, than many years or experience with less than desirable results.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 1:34AM
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MRclint - I agree this isnt the world of my "father" ( I guess in my example it would be Grandpa). Things were simpler then, but I personally cant say I have no problems with how they did things, because theyre responsible for many ecological problems we face now - The people today just grow up in the same ignorance IMO (people generally of course )

Drew - Flowering plants evolved before grasses. There is evidence of flowering plants from as far back as 150 MYA. Grasses, in the current forms are recent, at least in their global dominance. Flowering plants were dominant at eh end of the cretaceous, and grasses (as in graminoids) Started to show up at this time (there is evidence of grasses in dino dung)

Also, according to "the nature of things" - The disease has been found in S america, but NOT colombia. There is a farmer who is growing new cavandish types from seed, hand pollinating tens of thosuands of trees by hand, and only getting one seed in 5000 -10 000 fruits....

THe problem in that case is monoculture/too many of the exact plant in one area. If you put someone who is sick in a room crammed with people, others will get sick. Pests dont have to go far with growing systems like this, because there are literally acres of the same plant.

I believe the problem here is similar. Multi tree holes, will spread diseases around in a climate in which that disease thrives. Again there is also some evidence some trees roots will not tolerate this too much (ie Cherry roots "running away" from each other).

THe version ive heard of this method is not done with the same tree specie. Its usually done with a nitrogen fixing tree and/or a "support" specie ( one that can shade and help the long term tree grow, in areas with less then ideal conditions). One example was a black walnut, supported by a russian olive in penny livingstons permaculure garden in New Mexico. The olive protected the walnut from the harsh sun, while providing nitrogen to the soil. The russian olive is short lived, and although its tolerant of jugalone, after a decade or so it will eventually succumb to it, as well as the shade from the walnut.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 7:29AM
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alan haigh

I don't agree, CP, that 4 in a hole would generally appreciably increase the chance of disease in a home orchard based on the mechanism you suggest- nursery stock is pretty reliably disease-free if purchased from a licensed nursery and 4 in a hole of same species should pretty much function as a single tree.

I would agree with you that, for apples and pears, planting a variety more susceptible to fire blight with three less susceptible varieties would make the overall threat greater for those 3 trees next to a typhoid Mary, but it would not increase the chances for the susceptible variety to get FB if trees were pruned like a single tree with equivalent air circulation, etc.

And now that you've made me think about it, I find myself agreeing with you more. 4-in-a-hole would tend to push all 4 trees to the lowest common denominator. Even with birds, I've found them more attracted to yellow fruit if a red fruited variety of plum or cherry is nearby. I guess it would tend to encourage all trees to perform more towards the one with the lowest common denominator of resistance. I could re-edit the first paragraph, but I think that would make this post less interesting. Thanks for making me think- although I am a grandfather, new ideas still somehow excite me.

Even in commercial production, it seems that high density plantings are much more often devastated by fire blight than trees more widely spaced on more vigorous rootstocks. It remains to be seen if the Cornell FB resistant rootsocks will be a panacea for this problem.

Mr. Clint, when I lived in S. CA I was able to achieve desirable results without either experience or great knowledge. I harvested wonderful fruit from completely untended trees- the main problem was coons and groundsquirrels. A more adverse climate can be a bit shattering to one's self-confidence and require a lot of work to regain it.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 9:19AM
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