fruit trees for gift to Iowa

cousinfloydNovember 28, 2012

My brother- and sister-in-law recently bought a new house in central Iowa, zone 5a, and I'd like to give them some fruit trees/bushes/vines for a gift. I have several questions about what would work best in Iowa. I'm concerned about cold hardiness, and I also want to avoid any major disease or pest problems and I don't know what those would be for Iowa.

I know my brother-in-law would like a couple apple trees. I was thinking maybe a Gold Rush, Pristine, or Liberty. Are there better no-spray candidates? I know he has particular ideas of what size tree he wants, which I need to find out, but do any of you recommend particular dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstocks?

I'd also like to give them some kiwis. Will arguta hardy kiwis do alright there? Are some hardier than others? Ananasnaya is supposed to be especially hardy according to one source. Is there an especially hardy male? Or is a kolomitka much more likely to survive and produce there than the argutas?

With regards to pear, is fireblight a concern in Iowa? Are there rootstocks I should avoid or prefer specifically for Iowa? I may go for something bigger/quicker, but would it even be an option to dig up a wild callery seedling here and graft onto that for him?

I was thinking I'd avoid stone fruit unless it would be substantially more trouble-free (pests, brown rot, etc.) in Iowa than on the East Coast. It wouldn't, would it?

I was also thinking maybe a Princess Diana or Prince William serviceberry. Any recommendations as far as serviceberries?


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franktank232(z5 WI)

Central Iowa would mean Des Moines or around there?... Not a lot of snow, can get very warm, but also very cold... I would think anything that can work in Omaha, will work there...

A hardy peach should work great, if you did want to try stonefruit...along with any hybrid plum (Superior) although you will need a pollinator.

Fire blight? Doubtful, but someone else would know better then me,.

Apples should do just fine...

I'm just trying kiwis here...will know more in a year or 3.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 5:39PM
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I often tout Liberty, but if you need a no-spray apple you might have problems with Liberty & codling moth- it can be done, but bagging may be necessary. (Spinosad will do the job too, and it's organic.)

One apple on my tree that seems unaffected by codling moth is yellow delicious. I think others have reported similarly.

Glad I don't have to deal with midwest's humidity and disease issues- but I wouldn't mind having another few weeks of growing season.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 6:31PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

I bought ten Northline Serviceberry seedlings from Burntridge earlier this year.No fruit yet,but is suppose to be good flavor as are Thiessen,Smokey and Honeywood. Brady

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 6:54PM
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megamav(5a - NY)


Give pawpaws a look.
No spray, tropical looking pyramid tree, edible landscape.
Hardy down to -20.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 9:36PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

I am doing the same thing for my Aunt. I posted this question a while ago and the replies were very helpful. They are in zone 5, but maybe SW of where your brother is.

I have heard that arguta kiwi will die back even in zone 5 so for myself I chose kolomikta. kolomikta.

I just bought a Regent saskatoon for myself as well so I will see how that works. I might take one to them later but I've got my hands full now. My PF24-C peach has done great here in Denver but I didn't want to spend more on shipping and neither of these sources carried it this year. The peaches will need a lot of care; painting the trunks and preventing borers, but my aunt just loves them so I am hoping they will work. The word from Alan Cummins on Castleton plum, "Castleton would be the one plum I would suggest for your area, yes, or any other equally far north (but no farther)."

I ended up choosing:

Contender Peach Krymsk 1
Castleton Plum Krymsk 1
Honeysweet Pear OHxF 87
Alkmene Apple G.11/MM.111
Chieftain Apple G.11/MM.111
Jonalicious Apple G.11/MM.111
Wolf River Apple B.9/B.118

Bay Laurel:
Montrose Apricot Myrobalan 29C
Tomcot Apricot Myrobalan 29C
Polly Peach Lovell
Ranger Peach Lovell
Early Richmond Cherry Mazzard

Here is a link that might be useful: Tree selection for Iowa orchard

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 10:16PM
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Thanks, everyone, for the advice.

Frank, yes, they're somewhere not too far from Des Moines. What do you mean by hybrid plum? I've heard of the AU series chickasaw hybrids, but I'm guessing you're referring to something else.

marknmt, thanks for the information about codling moth and Liberty. I feel like some kind of mostly red apple would be nice to go with a more yellow apple. I think someone mentioned freedom in the thread milehigh linked to. Any thoughts on Liberty versus Freedom? I think if my brother-in-law were going to spray that he'd use conventional sprays, but while I can see him doing some pruning and watering (and maybe thinning...) I don't necessarily see him going to the trouble of spraying, so I was hoping there might be some hope in at least a partial harvest of completely no-spray (no-bag, etc.) apples.

Megamav, I did consider pawpaws. I have pawpaws myself. My concerns with pawpaws are (1) the cold and wind of Iowa. I guess zone 5 means they won't typically see less than -20? (2) I've had pawpaws in the ground for 5 years now that still haven't fruited. With limited space and a not super settled lifestyle I'm inclined toward more vigorous growers for them (3) I think they'd prefer something more normal. (His parents grow fuzzy kiwis and he really likes the vines, so I'm hoping he won't see hardy kiwis as too weird.)

milehigh, thanks for the link to all the helpful advice to your earlier question. That thread has me wondering whether I shouldn't give more thought to a sour cherry. I'm still thinking a peach/plum/apricot would likely have too much disease/pest pressure for my gift.

What about apple rootstocks? How did you choose what you chose, milehigh?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 5:07AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Hybrid is American+Japanese...something like Superior, Kaga, Pipestone, Alderman, Toka, Underwood, Waneta...

Sweet cherries would also work. Smaller trees, nice looking foliage and hardy to that area.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 11:12AM
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dmtaylor(5a (WI))

I've just planted my orchard 2.5 years ago, but so far I am having the best success with:

Cortland apple / B.9 dwarfing rootstock
Honeycrisp apple / unknown semi-dwarfing rootstock
Black Gold sweet cherry / Gisela 5 dwarfing
Willamette raspberry

I haven't had any real disease problems with any of these (yet), and I don't spray, although I did bag each of my apples this year. My baby Cortland tree (it is only 6 feet tall) is most precocious and flowered each year, this year producing its first 3 apples. I got many many pounds of raspberries, with basically zero care or watering required, so I am very happy with the Willamette variety. No fruit on the other trees yet but tons of fruit buds for 2013, with the trees growing very well and filling out nicely. The apples I got from Cummins and Lowes, the dwarf cherry from Raintree.

I have not had very good success with:

Sweet 16 apple / G.16 dwarfing
Chester blackberry

The Sweet 16 is not vigorous to begin with, and has certainly not recovered well after my puppy unfortunately attacked it in 2010. The Chester blackberry (I have just one plant) produces only one new primocane each year, for a grand total of like a dozen berries for the whole season. Boo. So of course I'm still wanting more blackberries, and I will try some other variety. So....

Based on tons of research, I have recently purchased the following berries for planting in spring 2013. These are some of the hardiest varieties I could find that seem suitable for testing for at least a couple years in my 5a climate:

Illini Hardy blackberry
Triple Crown blackberry
Hinnomaki Red gooseberry

Also based on much research but no personal experience yet, if I were to get more fruit trees at some point in the future, I'd be interested in:

Montmorency tart cherry
Reliance peach

Peaches would have to be pruned and thinned 4 or 5 times a year to keep their size manageable. And from what I understand, Montmorency tends to be a smaller tree all on its own. Why do I like dwarfs / small trees so much? Well, because I don't want to wait 5-10 years before getting fruit! Two to three years is a long enough wait. And I don't need huge trees. Small bushy trees where the fruit is easy to pick is perfect for me and my family. Of course, tree size is an individual decision. If I had a lot of land and a lot of time, I would plant some standards for their beauty in addition to the fruit. But for a small yard, standard size trees are not practical IMHO.

Self-pollinating varieties can also be important if you only want one tree of a certain species. Stone fruits and berries have lots of options. Apples and pears, not so much. Pawpaws would need two varieties, I believe. Keep it in mind.

Hope my experience helps provide a few ideas.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 3:54PM
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I can't speak to Empire- others will, I hope.

Another piece of anecdotal evidence about yellow delicious and codling moth: a friend has a standard Mac growing next to a standard YD (branches touch, in fact) and year after year the Mac is wormy and the YD is not.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 10:21PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


It's my opinion zone 5a is pushing it too much for Triple Crown. Most years it doesn't get much below 0F here, but I find that I start to get winter kill when it gets below that. If it get very much below zero, I get winter kill in all but the thickest canes. It's a very good berry and better than Chester for sure, but it's going to have sporadic cropping in WI or IA.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 10:58AM
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dmtaylor(5a (WI))

Thanks for the warning. I might just have to take extra measures to protect the TC by covering and even heating when it gets too cold.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 8:36PM
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