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Fruit Trees in the Rocky Mountains

Posted by ianb_co 5b (My Page) on
Mon, May 10, 10 at 13:53

Since my 2008 "fruit tree plans" post keeps getting revived, I thought I'd start a general purpose fruit tree thread on what trees we're growing, what's worked well and what's failed for us over time. I'll start:

This is my third year with fruit trees in my Boulder backyard; most of my trees came from Cummins Nursery and Trees of Antiquity, both of which are highly recommended.

The fruit tree list at the moment:

Apples: Ashmead's Kernel, Calville Blanc, Cortland, Cox's Orange Pippin, Jonagold, Kidds Orange Red, Margil, Northern Spy, Reinette Zabergau. Most are on B9 or M7, with two on G11 and one on G30.

Pears: Comice, Magness, Seckel, Warren. The magness is on quince, the others on OHxF 111.

Plums: Geneva Mirabelle, Golden Transparent, Green Gage, Imperial Epineuse, Shropshire Damson

Smyrna Quince, Rosseyenka Persimmon

The apples, pears and plums are all doing well - the apples, except for the Northern Spy, have leafed out, the pears have pushed 3-4" new growth, and the plums are finishing up blossoming. I may well get a good crop of damsons and handful of golden transparents this year.

The Smyrna quince died back to about 6" from the ground - the second year in a row with significant damage - and I'll probably pull it out in the fall, to be replaced with a North Star cherry. No die back at all on the apples and pears, and only a few inches on a couple of the leggiest verticals of the green gage plum.

The Rosseyenka persimmon, which arrived as a tiny (1/4" dia) whip (from a different nursery), doesn't seem to have survived the winter. Perhaps I'll try Meader or Prok.

All the pears and most of the apples are in an espalier, and the plums are planted 5' apart and pruned as goblets or bushes, depending on their branching angles. Since the apples and pears aren't blossoming yet, I've not started a spraying regime; I'm hoping that's not a mistake!

I'd love to hear what y'all are growing, and how they made it through the winter!


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Fruit Trees in the Rocky Mountains

I've got two little Mesabi cherry trees that we planted last autumn that are doing very well at the moment:


Does anyone know if the upcoming freeze will harm the possibility of cherries, now that they are in bloom? And if so, should I do anything to protect them?

RE: Fruit Trees in the Rocky Mountains

According to the site below, it'll take temps. below 28 degrees to do significant harm. At least here in Boulder, it looks like it will only go down to around 32 degrees, and the snow will help insulate the flowers.

Here is a link that might be useful: MSU temp chart

RE: Fruit Trees in the Rocky Mountains

Can a Seckel Pear be grown as a scionwood cutting, without grafting to another tree?

I have two Dwarf Stanley Plums, a Golden Delicious and a Honey Crisp Apple and a Stella Cherry.

The plums have been in my yard for 7 years and have fruited in abundance every year. The others were new last year but survived the winter.

RE: Fruit Trees in the Rocky Mountains

I planted one or two fruit trees every year from about 15 years ago up to 3 years ago, and wisely bought some of those fancy copper plant tags that you indent the variety name onto the tag and wire it onto the tree for easy identity long into posterity. And then two years ago, I saw my daughter had made herself a bracelet of all those tags. Take that, posterity!

I have one good sized apricot tree. One good sized green gauge plumb tree - the one, forum readers will recall, refused to flower for 10 years until I stood in front of it one winter with a running chain saw, pondering its removal, and the vibrations convinced it that it was time to flower. I have Jonathan, Coz's Pippen and a Spitzenburg apple trees, and some pear tree that is on its 3rd attempt to regrow after bucks have rubbed the trunk with their horns during the rut, and some free stone peach tree that my son ran over with a tire on the riding mower so it leans sou-sou-west. Row one.

Row two, we have a cling peach, Lapins Cherry that got totally hammered with the hail on one side and grows north, Stella cherry, and French Improved Prune, which makes great jam.

Row three, two Asian plums and one blue damson plum that died this year.

Rows four and five, we got two Almata apple, a red fleshed one with a taste to die for, two Anna apples, great complex taste, two Pink Ladies which are even better home grown, two something something apple trees, two cling peaches, a Comice (sp) pear, and the one remaining blue damson.

The rows are scattered around the place. I bought all these bare root for <$20 a piece. Fresh tree fruit from the garden is in a whole other league from anything you can buy from a store, and I dunno about farmers markets, but I've never seen any buckets of plums or baskets of unheard of apples. You can buy a decent tree-ripened peach in Colorado.

We make jam, jelly, syrup, fruit leather, apple sauce, peach sauce, plum sauce, apple butter, peach butter, and chutneys.

This year has not started out auspiciously for fruit, since most of the trees have flowered and been hammered by frost, and we are forecast down to 26 tomorrow night. But we'll still get something out of all that.

RE: Fruit Trees in the Rocky Mountains

Austinhanasmom - if you can get the pear scion to root (maybe with the help of some rooting hormone), you can plant it, but the problem will be that it will want to be a full sized pear tree - I don't know about seckel in particular, but some full sized pears grow well over 30'. And I may have a quince rootstock to donate to your cause!

David - I laugh every time I think about your threatening your green gage - I'll be sure to remember it if my trees misbehave! How has your Cox's worked out for you - I've heard about problems with cracking. Also, which is your favorite cherry? Finally, how long did it take for your pears to fruit?


RE: Fruit Trees in the Rocky Mountains

here at my place in Montana I have had the best luck with Kirsten as a sweet cherry, and Stella,,mind you I have enough neighbors with pollinators close so I have not even bothered..
otherwise as a pie I really go back to the old standards..Keep in mind I live along Flathead lake which was at one time well known for its cherry production
When the rocky mountain forum originated I posted a lot of info about fruit trees on some of the posts.We also ran into late frost and early bloom conflicts,, Gads where are the older posts when I would like to access them,,LOL,,

RE: Fruit Trees in the Rocky Mountains

Ian, the Stella cherry gives big, sweet cherries like the Bing cherries that are all over the stores. My Lapin cherry is supposed to produce big fruit as well, but it didn't read the catalog so the cherries are smaller, but with a great flavor. I forgot to mention that I have a true wild cherry which is a suckering nightmare.

The pears showed up year 4.

To echo gardenbutt, the most important thing to look for when selecting fruit trees is late flowering.

RE: Fruit Trees in the Rocky Mountains

Well, looking at Ian and David's lists, my inventory is hardly worth mentioning.

Like Deb, I have a Golden Delicious and a Honeycrisp, both dwarf. The Golden Delicious is covered in blooms at the moment, but the Honeycrisp doesn't look like it will bloom this year. Maybe because the deer nibbled it the first year, before I put a cage around it?

I also have a dwarf July Elberta peach, originally planted one last year, but it never leafed out, so the replacement was planted about a month ago, and is starting to leaf out. So I guess I'll have fruit sometime before my preschooler enters college : )

This is more of a shrub than a tree, but I also planted a Rovada Red currant this year. Two Reliance grapevines, a couple of rhubarb plants, and some strawberries rounds out the extent of my homegrown fruit attempts.


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