Best places other than SoCal for fruit growing?

persianmd2orchardJune 15, 2012

Hi everyone,

I'm in DC area now... thinking of relocating to another hospital. Besides for west coast (Sacramento, San Diego, etc.) what other places would be a big upgrade from the DC area?

Drier climate for pest free (plums, vinifera grapes...) and milder winters (expanding pomegranate varietes, apricots, loquats, in ground citrus...) would be nice.

Should the southwest also be on my list? Trying to still be at an academic hospital so big university nearby would be a plus. I don't know anything about Florida (humidity not an issue here for my fruit desires?--the tropical fruits aren't a priority for me.), Texas, New Mexico, Arizona... but I have to think those are all upgrades?

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Forgot to mention morus nigra also would be nice. I miss those dearly. Am I asking for too much from a non-SoCal location?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 6:13PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


To meet all your goals outside CA I'd say your best bet would be AZ maybe Tucson or a bit higher elevation up to about 4,000ft.

The best fruit growing areas outside CA are the drier low elevation areas of WA, ID, CO, and maybe OR. But they have much colder winters than southern AZ. In-ground citrus and Morus Nigra won't work there.

Houston, Dallas, or Austin come close. I'd rate them ahead of FL just because of lower humidity but all are really hot in summer.

Get a greenhouse like mine and a lot more areas are possible.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 6:58PM
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I grow all that you list in Phoenix. However, the only academic medical center in the state, outside of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, is in Tucson. It's a little colder there and as a result, you actually need to protect citrus once in a while during the winter.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 12:47AM
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Growing stone or pome fruit in the low desert of Arizona is a trip. Citrus on the other hand is easy.

You really would have to be careful of your selection to grow stone or pome fruit. 'Tom' of this forum had a script where he could tell you the chilling hours based on the reports from weather underground. Something like that would be absolutely invaluable if not essential, and I don't know why its not more widely available if not built into the higher tone home weather stations. Tucson would not have quite the extreme climate of Phoenix, but on the other hand, it lacks the unbelievably fertile soil of the Salt River Valley.

If I still lived there, I would do the basics. Citrus has few pests and no birds, hangs on the tree ripe for weeks or months, and everyone take it for granted. I would get me some high class citrus. In Phoenix, anything other than Key lime does well. I would go for 'Moro' blood orange, for example, or perhaps a 'Bears' lime. (An unbelievably beautiful fruit tree in my opinion. You could grow the lime tree on the front of the house without worrying too much about fruit thieves.)

Figs do very well too, and some of the varieties have two crops a year. Figs for some reason have a kind of 'Geeter Lester' image in Arizona. You won't find too many growing in the foothills of Tucson for that reason.

Mulberries do well, but until recently it was almost impossible to get a fruiting variety. Don't plant it too close to the house.

A Rosemary hedge is a no-brainer too. You have never lived as a gardener until you trimmed the hedge one hot summer morning turned around when you were done and contemplated the $1,000 worth of trimmings you will be throwing into the trash.

Pecan trees do well around there, but they are rarely grown. Too big and too much water I suppose. I always wonder why you don't see Pistachios down there, but you don't.

Olive trees thrive in Phoenix. they are outlawed by the yahoos because of the pollen. Almost nobody bothers to harvest them, and the occasional Greek or Italian tourist practically faints at the waste.

P.S. Don't try and be a hero and dig through the Caliche. Hire a guy with a backhoe, make sure he calls the Bluestake center, and get a real hole. This isn't Kansas, you know.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 3:46PM
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alan haigh

Koko, that's literature, IMO.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 9:03PM
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Wow, that was definitely an interesting rant.

Some citrus tends to do a lot better in Phoenix than others. Certain non-navel oranges (Trovita, Hamlin), grapefruit, and tangelos really thrive here. You can plant these trees in the full sun and as long as they get water, they do well. A lot of other citrus doesn't do well, unless conditions are optimal (afternoon shade, amended soil, et al) -- the blood oranges fall into that latter category.

Pome and stone fruit do very well here, as long as you choose varieties that require less than 400 chill hours. I grow tons of peaches every year and harvest several bushels of apples. I find both easier to grow than certain mandarin/tangerine varieties.

Almonds and pistachios aren't grown here because they require 600-800 chill hours and a ton of water.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 10:50PM
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"P.S. Don't try and be a hero and dig through the Caliche. Hire a guy with a backhoe, make sure he calls the Bluestake center, and get a real hole. This isn't Kansas, you know. "

Awesome and informative responses thanks.

How do you guys rate Florida and Albuquerque?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 7:50AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Albuquerque is pretty good for the temperate zone crops up to and some zones including figs. Anything less hardy than that is not going to happen outdoors. It would be a great place for a setup like mine, probably a little better than here. For me the climate would be a lot more tolerable than Tucson, Dallas, Houston, or FL. Do you like hot humid weather? That would be the big question for me about FL. Some fruits like all that humidity but many don't.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 9:24AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

I know Fruitnut does not like the FL humidity but it is no big deal. Once you live here you get use to it and it really is no problem. Lumping all FL together is a mistake as it is a long state with many different zones.

North FL is hotter than south FL summers but has nice fertile soil.
Central Florida where I am is sugar sand but if you pick a good spot the soil is pretty good. Tip would be if the hickory trees are in the area it is decent soil. Citrus grow great here but too cold for limes or Lisbon type lemons. We have a very long growing season but do get a frost or 3 a year. Can grow most things here other than tropical fruits which would need protection.

South FL is great if you want tropical fruits.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 12:45PM
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Personally I'm OK with any climate for living for myself that's zone 7 and higher, I like dry and humid climates just nothing with crazy winters.

So it sounds like: Arizona, Texas, Florida are best bets outside California.

I think my main priority would be citrus, pomegranate***, morus nigra***, figs, vinifera grapes***, loquats... then maybe apricots, peaches...

BTW can we talk about the differences from Davis down to San Diego if there is stuff that will NOT do well in any of that regional spectrum? I know some places on that regional spectrum are more ideal... but should I cross anything off the growing list for any place on that range of Davis to San Diego?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 10:57PM
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You'll be fine in Phoenix. We grow all that you listed easily here. Your problem fruits are the more temperate pomme fruits and most tropicals (due to the brief frosts in the winter).

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 11:02PM
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trgi21(zone 9 a)

Hi Persian MD

I am from Tucson and recently started with fruit trees and they are doing great. We have nice weather which is dry (hot but not like hell in Phoenix) during summer and have monsoons from end of July. Winters we get few frost days but most fruit trees do OK except tropical fruit trees and citrus varieties.

On a side note I am not sure what is your specialty but we have great hospitals and I work at one of them. Let me know if you need any info about them.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 11:43PM
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I live in Modesto, 70 miles south of Sacramento. The climates, for all intents and purposes, are identical.

I grow cherries, peaches, apricots, plums, pomegranate, persimmons, grapefruit, oranges, mandarin, grapes and boysenberries. My next-door-neighbor has a lemon tree that produces loads of fruit. Kiwi and pistachio are grown commercially in the region, as are walnuts and almonds. The Dave Wilson Nursery grows most of its stock only a few miles away. Fresno, 90 miles further south, with again, almost identical climate, was once a major fig producing area.

Mulberry trees grow like weeds, and I had a loquat tree for many years. We can't grow tropicals without effort, but virtually everything else grows fine.

That said, Sacramento is not a cosmopolitan city. It has pretensions but falls far short. Were it not the state capitol it would just be another cowtown. I lived there from 80 to 87 and liked it there, but much has changed since then. Lest you think I'm just dumping on Sacramento, Modesto is far, far worse.

Obviously, UC Davis, with its medical center, would be attractive to you, and really, we are a great region for growing fruit, my ex-wife is even growing currants.

I don't know anything about life in DC, or its downsides, but I would imagine it's far more sophisticated, and in that sense, Sacramento and its surrounds is not "an upgrade". There may be other things, however, that make it a nicer place to live.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 1:12AM
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