Fruit trees

jeezkenny(East Tennessee)March 29, 2005

Hi everyone, I would like to plant a peach, apple and cherry tree on my property. Are there particular varieties I should stay away from? Or some that do extremely well in East TN? When I plant in this dense red clay, should I dig a very large hole and plant in good soil or can I mix the clay/dirt with peat moss?

Thanks for your help

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First of all you most DEFINATELY need to amend this soil..... Prunus do NOT do well in clay soil. Also, for the peach trees, and probably the cherry as well, they prefer a sandy loam type of soil. Yes you can amend it with some peat moss. I would also put a little composted manure (like Black Cow) and a little sand. Some of these new 'garden soils' already contain some of this stuff. And I know you can even purchase it specifically for fruit trees. Home Depot carries it.

One more thing about peaches. They do best planted on the south side of a house or barn, or on a southern facing slope. I think this applies to cherry as well since it is a prunus. I wish I could help you with apples, but apples as a rule do not do well here in Alabama so I must've slept through this section...hehe

But I am quite sure that someone here on this forum will know about your apple trees.....Good Luck!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2005 at 9:56AM
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Do NOT amend the soil. Numerous studies have shown that amended planting holes cause problems with wicking of moisture into/out of the root area. Additionally, amended soil creates a perfect site for standing water, since rain infiltrates more quickly and easily in the amended soil where it pools at the bottom of the planting hole due to the lower permeability of the surrounding, native soil. Dr. Carl Whitcomb, who I believe is now Professor Emeritus of horticulture at University of Oklahoma, did the definitive studies showing that trees suffer more when the planting hole is amended with organic matter.

Fruit trees will grow well in clay soils so long as they are planted so that they are slightly above the soil line, thus ensuring good drainage initially. The most important technique when planting fruit trees (well, any tree for that matter) is to dig out away from where the tree will be placed by 1.5'-2' (for whip sized trees). This encourages root growth away from the root ball as the soil is initially less compacted.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2005 at 10:25AM
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Your apple will do as good as your other trees.Dig your hole twice as big as the root ball let the ball set about 1" above ground level mound the dirt up to this water well mulch around the base about 3"deep but not all the way to the bark leave 2,3"back water once a week as needed. should work good luck Jim Oh! I use cotton gin trash or wood chips but peet moss will work

    Bookmark   March 30, 2005 at 2:40PM
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Apple, peach and cherry? Just be aware that these are considered in the higher maintenance fruit trees as far as spraying, pruning and longiveity go. Some other plants to consider are: seedless American persimmons, Oriental persimmons (not sure how hardy these would be in your zone), jujube, pineapple guava, blueberries, 'Anna' kiwi, and pawpaws. None of these will require any spraying and some will bear fruit even in some shade.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 3:56AM
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Have a look at my friend Richard Moyer's stuff on growing fruits up in your neck of the woods(Bristol area)

Here is a link that might be useful: Richard Moyer - King College

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 6:15PM
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I would stay away from red delicious and yellow delicious apples and go for some of the newer varities like Fuji or Honeycrisp. I personally belive there are better apples and other fruits to be had through mail order than from big box stores.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 4:21PM
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I am interested in planting fruit trees as well this coming Feb. I was told Feburary was the best time???? And also have a question about apple varieties that do well in Southern Arkansas. My brother has an apple tree planted on the south side of his house that makes prolifically, but he does not know the name of the apple tree. It makes a small fruit, looks like an crab apple without the tartness. It makes the best apple juice with no sugar added. Would love to know your idea of what the name of this apple might be.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 9:37AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Your best advice would come from your county extension agent. Different apple varieties like different climates. Most apple trees need another variety nearby for cross pollination. And not any apple tree will pollinate with any apple tree. Seriously, you need to ask questions of someone who truly knows your area of the country. If you took some samples of fruit to your agent he/she might be able to help you identify your mystery variety also.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 12:51PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

jeez, I would really like to emphasize that amending an existing soil upon planting is a very bad idea. Hard red clay soil, AS LONG AS IT DRAINS, is superb for growing plants of all kinds....from grass to trees. I'm in a red clay area myself, so can speak from experience.

Adding peatmoss or anything else to the native soil could cause big problems for your trees.

Lucky, your link didn't send me to a location. I wanna see!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 8:56AM
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I have around 80 fruit trees growing in my backyard, all in unamended clay and they have all done very well.

Here is my planting technique:

I loosen up a 2-3 foot area with my small flower tiller, mixing in a few handfulls of lime and triple phosphate.

raise the height of a 2 foot diameter area around the tree around 2-3 inches - this means sometimes adding some unamended soil from a different part of the yard
(this provides the water drainage that is very necessary)

then I make a berm 2 to 3 inches tall circling the tree about 2 feet in diameter. (this holds in the rain water)

next I fill the area inside the berm with wood chips. (I get my wood chips free from my County road department)

this process may take 30 minutes per tree but is well worth the effort in my opinion. The tiller really helps, it pulverizes the clay and makes it very easy to work with.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 5:51PM
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I ammend my soil and it works wel, but mine is very different.
all my soil is fine river sand.
I also build up the area i am planing in, i am below sea-level and it sometimes rains here for days on end.
(i think climate change has created monsoons in the gulf area)
I also add HEAVY (coarse) sand to my light sand, so it actually drains faster, and dig the holes several times deeper than normal.
(3-4ft deep!)

I have heard of people doing this
(digging deep, adding coarse sand with organics)
in clay soil, but i have no experience with it in clay.
I think it would be very dependent on the water-table.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 9:45AM
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