Generally speaking, I am trying to determine about how long do various types of fruit trees live. Say apple, plum, pears, peaches, cherries? Averages are fine; you do not have to be exact. Thanks in advance, Luis
If they are properly taken care of, I'd say 100 years. That might not be true for all of those types of fruit, but I've seen many apple trees that are over 100 years old.
Peaches tend to be short lived with roughly 8-12 years of fruiting life before needing to be replaced. Pears are often short lived also because they are susceptible to fire blight. I think the rest tend to live for along time barring some pest or untreated disease.
It depends on type of fruit, rootstock, variety, and certainly management.
The hundred year old apple trees you see are standards.
Pears can live as long as apples if they have some fireblight resistance.
In unkempt home orchards there are generally the two types of trees you see, apples and pears, because all the others have died out.
European plums and tart cherries are probably the next longest lived. Maybe the upwards of 50 years if taken care of.
Peaches and Asian hybrids can live 25 years, if managed. TIM is correct that the productive life in commercial orchards is about 12 years, but they have a little different goal than homeowners.
Sweet cherries are unusual. In a climate where they are not suited (most climates) they are the shortest lived of all and can die before they ever fruit. However in the perfect climate, they can be long lived and get very large.
Peach, plum, cherry are susceptible to borers which kill the trees if they girdle them. These can be very short-lived if you don't treat the trunks with appropriate chemicals. How long they can live is an interesting question. Probably 25+ years with decent care. I've seen apricot trees 30' tall with 16" trunks, well over 40 years old.
Several considerations about apples and pears- which variety, which rootstock, disease resistance, soil? There are lots of Keiffer pear trees on homesteads where the house hass fallen down, more than 50 years old. And standard apple trees can get much older than that.
Speaking of long-lived trees, the pecan trees at Monticello were planted there by Thomas Jefferson.
Oldest Living Fruit Tree in North America, Endicott Pear tree is 380 years old.
Here is a link that might be useful: Endicott Pear tree
There is a cherry tree on our city block, perhaps a vestige of the original c. 1880s Woodstock Farm that bordered just a block away, although the tree is probably some decades younger. 45 feet tall and somewhat wider.
This is the only picture I have of it in full bloom, you can only see the upper half, the tree is a very long ways away. It dwarfs everything on the block except a lone Douglas fir. The cherry tree has not gotten noticeably larger in the last 20 years, it is just holding its own. Actual fruit production is small.
If you expand the original question to 'how long can fruit trees live and be productive?' you'd get somewhat different answers. Harvestman is the rejuvenator here, bringing old trees back into production is his vocation.
I believe that 100 year old orchards are pretty rare, as newer varieties and cultural practices lead to new plantings. There may well be genes that program lifespan in trees as in animals, but I wonder how many fruit trees get cut down or bulldozed before they die of old age? Once the profits decline or the market changes.
What I've seen in north Lousisiana:
100+ years for pears. (unless of course it dies from blight as mentioned above) Have 2 trees left that are 90+ yrs old.
35-50 yrs. for apples.
15-25 yrs. for peaches. (Have seen some trees rejuvenated by pruning and extend fruiting life by a few years)
Wild plums(more bush than tree)- probably 15-20 yrs. But it could be that the forest simply took over and smoothered it with shade(I forget).
An apple tree in Vancouver, Washington, dates to c. 1825, planted from seed by Hudson's Bay personnel. Supposed to be the oldest in this region.
That would make it 185 years old. It lives, but does not look like much.