Neophyte
Full Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2017 3:14 pm

fruit trees with no fruit

I am trying to grow fruit trees in my urban backyard. The problem is some of them bear very little or no fruit. Out of 9 trees 5 are non-bearing. This year I realized that all the non-bearing trees ( pears and apples) came from one nursery. Is it possible that the problem has to do with the nursery itself? (Defective rootstock maybe?)
I know it sounds strange, but I can't think of any other reasons; all my trees enjoy exact same conditions in terms of the quality of soil, the amount of sun, etc
Any thoughts?

Thank you

PaulF
Greener Thumb
Posts: 787
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:34 pm
Location: Brownville, Ne

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

It depends on the age of your trees. I have apples trees five years old that just this year had a couple of fruits. The four year old pear gave us three pears this year. Peaches two years in the ground produced a bushel of peaches. Depends on the age of the tree, the variety and type and very importantly on the pollinators in your area. You need pollinators to make it all happen; bees, wasps, certain kinds of fly and butterflies and moths. Maybe in your urban area (knowing where you are may help) the bees just have not found your trees yet.

If your trees are growing, putting out blossoms when they are supposed to, it is most likely not the nursery's fault. Patience and pollinators are the key.
Paul F

Neophyte
Full Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2017 3:14 pm

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

Thank you Paul.
Two of the trees are eight year old pears (Bosc and Anjou) Both are semi-dwarf and have been growing relatively slowly, no more than 20 cm a year. In the spring they have lots of flowers but less than a third turn into fruit, most of which fall before maturity. It has been like this for four years now. I pruned them a little bit last year (because i think there is not much to prune) but i saw no change this summer.
It's possible that pollination is a problem; I am in Western Ontario, we often have spells of cold and extremely windy weather around the time pears are in bloom. But a friend of mine who lives across the street has the same varieties which produce plenty of fruit. She bought them at some other place.

The other trees are five year old apples, also semi dwarf. They grow better, but I've seen only 1-2 apples on both of them.

The two apples I purchased from a different nursery, are 10 years old. They have been fruiting for 7 years now. The quality of fruit is quite poor because I don't spray but at least the quantity is not a problem.

User avatar
ElizabethB
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2109
Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:53 am
Location: Lafayette, LA

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

Neophyte -

There are other considerations as well.

Different varieties of fruit are very region specific. Fruit trees require "chill hours". Some more than others. Just because you purchased your trees from a nursery does not mean that they are suitable for your region.

Even if your region provides the necessary chill hours for a particular variety of fruit there may be other issues. In south Louisiana fruit trees must be able to fruit with very few chill hours and be able to withstand the very high humidity.

Some fruit trees can stand alone because they are self pollinating. Others must be planted by pairs because they require cross pollination.

Good luck.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27803
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

The pears — if your friend has exact same varieties as you do across the street, then they should all be benefitting from cross pollinating each other as the pollinating insects fly back and forth ... IF yours are blooming at the same time as hers. Even if only across the street, micro-climate may affect blooming times.

Actually there maybe temperature and sun exposure differences ESPECIALLY across the street. Yours may also be getting blasted with frost while hers are not. Bees may not be flying as much on cold and windy days, too, so you are getting less pollinating insect activity.

If yours don’t bloom at the same time as hers, do your OWN two trees bloom at the same time? They need to pollinate each other.


...also, even if the trees were planted on the same year, the size and age of her trees may have been older/more mature than yours and hers has a head start.


What are the cultivars.varieties of the Apple trees?
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

Neophyte
Full Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2017 3:14 pm

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

Applestar, thanks a lot for the information.
I think you are right, there must be some differences in micro-climate between my friend's backyard and mine. Hers is smaller and fully fenced, so the pears are more sheltered. Mine is much larger and exposed to the wind.

My Bosc pear usually blooms about a week earlier than Anjou, but it stays in bloom long enough for the other tree to 'catch up'. Apparently that's not good enough. I did plant a third variety, Bartlett, two years ago, mostly because I simply had some space for another tree.

The apples that don't fruit are Macintosh, Empire, Golden Delicious and Honey crisp (that one is too young for fruiting, only 2 years old)

I should also mention that the soil in my backyard is extremely poor. It contains lots of clay, small stones and even construction garbage which builders didn't bother to remove, they just covered it with a thin layer of top soil.
When we planted trees my husband diligently dug large holes and we filled them with a mixture of bagged and native (sifted) soil, about 3:1 ratio. Now, l've read somewhere on this forum that adding so much soil is not good for fruit trees because they need to get adapted to native soil anyway. But I am not sure if this rule applies to the soil that is so poor in nutrients and drainage.

I tried chemical fertilizers, mostly as an experiment for a couple of years, then I switched to home made compost, but I didn't see much difference in terms of the amount of fruit.

Do you think artificial pollination with a cotton swab would work for my pears?

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11269
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

I have a low chill bartlett pear. It was 10 years old when I inherited it and it was a "pet". It produced one whole fruit a year. Two fruit would have been a bonus year. Once it got up to about 10 ft and 15 years old, it did start producing more fruit. It took me a while to figure out when to harvest them. Low chill fruit aren't all that good, so I still consider the tree a "pet".

Microclimate and pollination does affect fruiting. Just because a lot of the flowers drop, does not mean there is something wrong. Most fruit trees produce 2-4 times more male flowers than female flowers. They are only good for pollination and they drop. If your tree is stressed from drought, disease, lack of nutrition, or not enough sun, over pruning or pruning at the wrong time, you will see less flowering and fruiting. You do have to have minimum chill hours for your particular variety.

If your tree did produce a lot of fruit, it would drop some anyway. If too many fruit set, the trees will start dropping fruit it does not need and will only keep the ones it can support. It is called June drop here because that is when most of the fruit start falling. Apples, apricots, peaches usually also have to be culled if enough fruit does not drop on its own. Otherwise if there is not enough space or energy in the plant to support all the fruit, they will be small.

The time to take care of the tree is before it fruits. You need to make sure it has good growing conditions and a healthy canopy to support fruit. You cannot expect a small tree with a sparse canopy to be able to support a lot of fruit. Feed and water the tree as is recommended in your area.
https://baylaurelnursery.com/growing-fr ... kyard.html
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4991
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

I worked in an orchard once they would let trees grow 5 years fertilize them every week so they grow large root system then do at extreme trim job on all the trees late fall in cold weather the 5th year. If you trim a fruit tree it will often not make fruit that same year. Worse thing you can do is not trim the tree enough. Cut limbs short 100 lbs of fruit will be too heavy and break the limbs off. Fertilize trees every week all summer and give them lots of water each time you fertilize. Fertilize according to the tree size about 1/4 cup for a small tree, 1/2 cup for larger tree, 3/4 cup for a bigger tree, 1 cup for large tree, sprinkle around the radius of the tree. Mix pellet lime with Urea plus 15/15/15 fertilizer feed your trees every week. Trees need to be in full sun all day or fruit will never get ripe. Trees that are too large spend all their energy making leaves instead of fruit. I grew an apple tree it was 17 degrees one Nov. I trimmed the tree next summer the tree made 14 bushels of apples. You need 2 of each tree or neighbors need to have a tree for good pollination.

ACW
Senior Member
Posts: 153
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:20 am
Location: London

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

The two apples I purchased from a different nursery, are 10 years old. They have been fruiting for 7 years now. The quality of fruit is quite poor because I don't spray but at least the quantity is not a problem.

Neophyte
Newly Registered

Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 30 '17

Top
found this in post#3 of this thread.
then i am another GOM though lacking James years of gardening knowledge,and space
A gardener with a small shady back garden and a balcony with containers ,
biggest problem not enough sunshine !

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11269
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

To encourage more pollinators in your yard plant more nectar and pollen flowers. Bees love sunflowers, asters, single, marigolds,cosmos,and daisies. Many herbs attract bees and other beneficial insects if you let basil, sage, onions, and cilantro flower.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Yak_NN
Newly Registered
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2018 3:00 pm

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

Okay, so, in other words, most fruit trees need bees or another form of pollinisator to bear fruits... Is it feasible to have one's own beehive that wouldn't be used to harvest honey but just to pollinate flowers and fruit trees in a large-ish garden?

User avatar
webmaster
Site Admin
Posts: 9148
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 5:59 pm
Location: Amherst, MA USDA Zone 5a

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

Yes, absolutely.
I used to have a friend with a one acre urban backyard garden who created a backyard bee enclosure. There was a summer or spring swarm and he consulted with a beekeeper who showed him how to build a bee enclosure to encourage the bees to make his backyard their home.

;)

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11269
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

Your bees would still need nectar and pollen flowers within a few miles (1-5) to forage on for the majority of the year, not just one season. Your neighbors can't be spraying since it would be toxic to the bees. Check local laws about setbacks and number of hives that are allowed in your area.

I do take care of hives elsewhere but I live in a residential neighborhood and my lot is small. The only place I could put a hive would be on the roof. Instead, I just have a diverse landscape with some shrubs, trees, and my front yard contains alyssum, cuphea, multifida lavender, penta,Jamaican oregano, and blue daze which bloom year round. I seasonally plant nectar and pollen plants like cosmos, mexican sunflower, sundrops, single gold marigolds, sunflowers and single zinnias. Pelargoniums agapanthus, daylily, orchids and roses bloom in cycles as does the Indian Hawthorn, ti and MacArthur palms. I do have something blooming all year round. Some of the flowers will attract butterflies as well as bees and some of the nectar can only be reached by the long tongued bees and butterflies. Other beneficial insects require nectar and pollen as adults, so I try to have flowering plants all year. I have bees visiting my yard every day morning and evening. I don't know where their hives are. I did take out the butterfly bush because it attracted too many butterflies.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

Neophyte, welcome to the forums. It is good to put your location and zone next to your avatar. It will help us to help you if we know where you are and what your growing conditions may be. :)
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

Pollination is a big problem. Do you have bees there? It takes some bees working the blossoms to pollinate them so they will bear fruit.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Re: fruit trees with no fruit

To help with pollinators, you can put up a bee board. Take a 2x4 about 3 feet long and with an electric drill and a 7/32 inch drill bit drill a whole bunch of holes in the board, then go hang it up under the eaves of a shed. The little leaf cutter bees will come and lay eggs and raise brood in the holes. Have fun! :)
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

Return to “Organic Gardening Forum”