How to plant fruit trees intensively?

modern_miss(10A (15 Sunset) SF Bay Area CA)November 17, 2013

I dream about having a backyard filled with many varieties of fruit trees. I have about 1/2 acre flat and sunny. I'd like to plant a variety of stone fruits and citrus. I saw a post on planting intensively. I'm familiar with that principle when applied to vegetable beds, but how does one apply it to fruit trees? I'm not really interested in multi-fruit trees because I've heard they can grow lopsided. A landscape designer friend I spoke to said I have to keep semi-dwarf apple trees a minimum of 10 feet apart.

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shazaam(NC 7B)

Here's a good introduction to intensive fruit growing from Dave Wilson Nursery.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 10:58AM
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melikeeatplants

"I'm not really interested in multi-fruit trees because I've heard they can grow lopsided."

If you're willing to prune this isn't much of an issue. They get lopsided because one graft outgrows the other and people aren't pruning to keep in line with the other graft.

" A landscape designer friend I spoke to said I have to keep semi-dwarf apple trees a minimum of 10 feet apart."

You can do closer for sure, see the DWN link above. I have two applies in one hole (how u like dem apples?)

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 6:45PM
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curtis(5)

I saw a video where a guy was explaining some really tight growing. As I recall they were only like 3' apart and it kinda looked like a corn field. the dude was explaining how the lower branches are pruned back to 7 buds and higher up they are pruned back to 4, and at the top 3. It was a very high yield per acre method. Anyone recognize this?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 7:44PM
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ltilton

Not sure why you're looking at semi-dwarf trees, of which the semi part is ususally only nominal. These require more room than dwarf varieties.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 8:47PM
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larry_gene

Out this way, new orchards consist of fairly closely-spaced rows, 8 or 10 feet apart, each row is of espaliered small trees kept pruned to two dimensions. The overall appearance is similar to commercial grapes.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 11:36PM
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waiting_gw

This article on apples might be interesting.

Here is a link that might be useful: apples

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 12:56AM
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waiting_gw

This website on cherries might be interesting.

Here is a link that might be useful: cherries

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 1:24AM
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waiting_gw

That cherry website promotes the Gisela5 rootstock but you can do the same with trees on Krymsk6 or Newroot-1.

Fowler Nurseries in Newcastle, CA (http://www.fowlernurseries.com/) offers Krymsk6. Newroot-1 comes from Dave Wilson Nurseries. Raintree in Washington offers cherries on Gisela5.

You can still order from Fowler and Raintree (I've ordered from both and can recommend them. I especially like Fowler). You've missed the deadline to order from Dave Wilson but maybe a local nursery will have their trees in January.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 1:41AM
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waiting_gw

duplicate post

This post was edited by Waiting on Mon, Nov 18, 13 at 22:38

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 1:42AM
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ltilton

Gene Yale's intensive backyard garden - 178 trees and bushes

Here is a link that might be useful: Gene yale

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 9:47AM
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modern_miss(10A (15 Sunset) SF Bay Area CA)

OK - I have learned a lot from your posts. Thank you for the information! Very exciting. Dwarf trees seem like the way to go.

My next question is, is it better to plant 4 dwarf cherry (as an example) trees in one hole or to buy a one dwarf cherry that has four different varieties growing on it?

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 5:24PM
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MrClint

"Dwarf trees seem like the way to go."
I disagree. Better to grow healthy and vigorous trees and maintain height by proper pruning. That's the primary tenet of Backyard Orchard Culture. This is the path I took a few years back and now I pick fresh fruit in my suburban yard any and every day of the year. This has been a reality for me because of successive ripening and BYOC techniques. This should work for you too in No Cal.

What am I bringing in right now you may ask? Still have some wonderful poms and crimson seedless grapes holding well, I've been bringing them in as needed. Bearss limes have been excellent. Meyer lemons and pink lemonade lemons are just starting to trickle in.

Here is a link that might be useful: High Density Landscape

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 10:22PM
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waiting_gw

I trust farmers to know how to grow their crops and dwarfing rootstocks, for a number of reasons, is the future (and in many places, the present).

To quote from the Dave Wilson's "Backyard Orchard Culture" link, "It's much easier to keep a small tree small than it is to make a large tree small."

With a half acre I wouldn't bother with "4-in-a-hole" or "fruit cocktail" trees. You've got plenty of room to work with.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 10:56PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I agree with waiting. I would not buy a cherry tree if not dwarf, not only for size, but also for how highly precocious they are. You're right waiting, here in MI where cherries are our biggest crop, dwarf rootstock is the way we are going commercially. On apples I can't really comment. I know little about growing them. Since dwarf peach, plum, or apricot rootstocks don't exist, nothing to discuss there. In those cases rootstock choice should be about soil type, climate and hardiness . The genetic dwarf peaches are awesome, and some are competing and winning in taste too. Dave Wilson Nurseries sells a boat load of them.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 11:22PM
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MrClint

"I agree with waiting. I would not buy a cherry tree if not dwarf..."
I wouldn't buy a low chill cherry tree at all. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and that is mine, coming from a low chill zone. IMO, there are much better choices in that time frame such as citrus, loquats and early peaches. Maybe some one will come forward with first hand experience stating otherwise, but the raves thus far have been lacking on the low chill cherries.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 12:59AM
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Fascist_Nation(9b)

I have half an acre and over 200 fruit trees (too lazy to get a full inventory). 4 to a 4 foot hole, 18" apart, holes spaced 7' apart. Only on 2nd leaf so we will see (likely starting this spring), but I am pretty confident the close spacing will not be an issue. Keeping them 8 feet tall.

Trying for a pecan primary canopy but the pecans don't want to cooperate. The stone fruit may have to get used to full summer sun. The pomes north of my house will have to make due with some shade from mulberries at late afternoon times.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 1:11AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"I wouldn't buy a low chill cherry tree "

Either would I with over 1600 hours of chill time here.
But if I did, it would be dwarf, getting back to what we were discussing, dwarf rootstocks. Nice deflection, but it didn't work.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Tue, Nov 19, 13 at 1:31

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 1:23AM
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ltilton

I have what was supposed to be a "semi-dwarf" sweet cherry tree, and it's been a constant battle trying to keep it low enough that the fruit isn't out of reach from the top of the ladder.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 6:07AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

ltilton,

Thanks for posting the link to the apple orchard. that is one of the coolest orchards I ever seen. I know little about apples, but seeing that, dwarf is definitely the way I would go with apples too. Once I move I do want to add apples, and that link is saved for sure!
Again with peaches since no true dwarf rootstocks, and as you have indicated with semi-dwarf rootstocks, the difference is little, so you should pick one according to your needs, not size.

As far as citrus, I have no comment as I can't grow it except indoors, and my tropical trees have filled my indoor space. So no citrus in my future, or any other sub-tropical fruit.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 11:25AM
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waiting_gw

You will only be able to get citrus trees from California growers, due to quarantines. Flying Dragon is the dwarfing citrus rootstock that is most talked about. Four Winds does not use it, they "may" use Cuban Shadock.

I have three 30 year old citrus trees, each on unknown rootstock, though not "dwarfing". An Owari mandarin (HIGHLY recommended) that's about 12' high and 12' wide. More fruit than I could ever need. A navel orange that is about 16' high and 16' wide. Finally, a grapefruit that is about 16' high and 20' wide - huge.

It's unlikely that you will know exactly which rootstock is being used if bought from a retail nursery, it will probably just say dwarf, semi-dwarf, or full-sized. Expect them to (eventually) grow larger than what you are told.

Here is a link that might be useful: citrus rootstocks

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 4:46PM
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