Armand Tanzarian
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Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:59 pm

Complete Newbie here - please help with fruit tree guidance

Wow, I thought planting a tree would be fairly simple. Boy was I wrong! I know virtually nothing about gardening, trees, plants, and such (but want to learn). I had decided that I wanted to plant an apple tree or an american persimmon (d. virginianus, I think it is), at my rural property, for the wildlife to eat, but now my head is completely spinning with information and I need help badly.

The main problem I suppose, is with the hundreds upon hundreds of apple tree varieties, and which to choose - for example, here:

https://www.johnsonnursery.com/FRUIT%20PAGES/APPLES.htm

I want to plant this tree in late September or early October of this year, to get it to start growing, so it will bear fruit within 3-5 years hopefully, and frankly I do not have time to digest all of the mass of info out there, and need someone to essentially help me narrow my choices and tell me what kind of fruit tree to plant, to best meet my needs.

Also, it would seem (I'm learning) that apples & persimmons are not "self-pollinating", for the most part, and so then I started reading up on other alternatives which ARE self-pollinating such as apricots, plums, figs, etc. But these seem to be generally less hardy, and I want something that requires the least possible amount of care (of course). I don't want to have to plant two or more trees, or bring in crabapple flowers for pollination either. I very well MAY get around to planting complementary trees for pollination, and probably WILL, but I don't want to HAVE to, if I get busy, etc. (I have many hobbies).

But, then I read that SOME apple trees ARE self-pollinating - it has been alleged that Golden Delicious and Jonathons are two examples that are self-pollinating - and yet, in other places these same varieties are NOT described as being self-pollinating, so what gives? Anyway, that's when I threw up my hands and came here.

Here are my goals, criterion, questions, and concerns:

1. My goal is to feed a sweet treat to the wildlife, particularly the deer. So the variety need NOT be particularly sweet for humans - yes I may eat a few, but that's not what it's for, and to a deer, anything sweeter than a leaf or twig is a sweet treat - even the tartest of apples.

2. What are all the varieties of self-pollinating apples, if any? Even if an apple IS self-pollinating, will it in fact nevertheless bear a larger, better crop if it has a good pollinating variety planted nearby as well?

3. I want a variety that ripens very late, in the late fall preferably, but at least mid-fall.

4. I am in central OK, which I understand is Zone 7. Anyone know if my soil ph is likely to be OK for them? Is September 23rd to early to plant? That's the Saturday I was planning to go plant.

5. Should I look at growing crabapples instead of apples? Aren't they hardier? What about these apple/crabapple hybrids that are popular in Minnesota? They are hardier, no? Or does it not matter to me in a warmer climate here in OK?

6. What about a semi-dwarf tree? Would this be preferable over a regular tree? They are said to grow faster and have other advantages. What are all the pros & cons of these?

7. I was planning on planting these just a few feet above a water-line of a bottom area that periodically floods in some years - will the roots go down so far that it will be too wet in those flood years? Would the tree be better off up on top of a hill, in the a drier area where oaks thrive (assuming I clear a 'hole' in the canopy for them to get sunshine)?

8. One of my goals is to have the tree require as little maintenance as possible, in terms of fertilizer, mulch, pruning, and whathaveyou. I want hardy and low maintenance! Sure I will water & prune the first few years, but I'd like to "set it and forget it" after that.

9. Given my goals, what are the pros and cons of planting an apple vs. say, an apricot, peach, nectarine, plum, persmisson, fig, or pomegranite? Or for that matter, a non-tree fruit such as blackberries? I want a large volume of a sweet fruit for the lowest maintenance possible, in a low area in very fertile soil in central OK. What's the best way to get there?

P.S. Wild Persimmons do grow wild in central Okla, and even in this area (though they're much more common in S.E. Okla). So I thought wild persimmons a natural choice. But they are smaller fruit, and therefore I thought apples would be a better choice just in terms of volume of fruit yield for my deer. And moreover, there is a wealth of information on how to grow apples trees on the net; notsomuch for persimmons. And, I reason that there will be certain varieties of apples which are equally as hardy and adaptable to this area as a wild persimmon.

P.P.S. Peaches are known to do well in this area - how desirable & easy are they as a first tree pet to thrive on its own? Which variety of peach is best for my needs, if I go that route?

Can anyone help? Thanks so much!

opabinia51
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Location: Victoria, BC

Lots of questions to answer here but, first of all I want to point out that the particular zone you live in (7) has nothing to do with soil pH. You would need to do a soil test to figure that out. Soil test kits are available from gardening and hardware stores.

Apples will do better with a pollinating tree but, many people do plant just one tree and seem to do fine. You are correct abou the crabapple tree, it is most commonly used for pollination and the apples that these trees produce can be eaten by local wildlife and are excellant in Jellies and Jams as well as in apple butters, etc.

Mcintosh (sp?) is a good late variety. They are best to eat after the first frost. Most apples (except transluscents, John a gold, I think Fuji and gravensteens) are best picked or just eaten (in the deers case) in mide to late fall.

I would get some dwarf or semi dwarf varieties if you intention is to feed the deer because otherwise the trees will be to large for the deer to reach the fruit. Standard apple trees can attain heights up to 40 feet high.

Late September should be okay, just keep the plant well watered until your fall rains come. I'm not sure what September is like in Oklahoma but, up here, September is usually pretty dry and hot.

You sholdn't have to give your tree any fertilizer at all. Read up in the organic forum on soil building and composting. When you plant your tree(s) dig a hole that is twice as deep and twice as wide as the root ball, place some compost in the whole as well as some mulched up leaves before adding the root ball. Then fill with dirt, more compost and some mushroom manure. Done and done! Once and while you can stread some mulched up leaves around the drip line the tree(s) topped off with some manure.

If I understand you correctly, you are planning on planting the tree(s) in an area that floods? The flood waters may (most likely) kill the trees by drowning them and washing away soil and nutrient. I would plant the trees atop the hill.

I don't think it really matters what type of fruit tree that you plant. Personally, I would plant both an apple and a nectarine as well as a plum. But, I like to eat fruit off my trees. I do know that the deer tend to eat our apples and not the plums or nectarines so much.

Also, if you have incredibly dry summers, your tree(s) are going to need to be watered now and then. And deep watering is how you should go about watering your trees.

Armand Tanzarian
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Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:59 pm

Alright, thanks a million; that helps me a lot. I'll look into the semi-dwarf, maybe a mcintosh or jonathon - do you know if the mcintosh is pretty good at self-pollination? And I was going to plant the tree(s) Just up a few feet (2-3 feet elevation) up the hill from the flood plain, so that I wouldn't have to haul water very far, since the creek is nearby. But I was wondering if the roots went down into that sometimes-flooded area, whereas some of the roots always remain above it, whether that was enough to kill the tree.... But thanks again! :)

peachguy
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Location: Ontario

I mentioned this in an earlier post but you could buy one of the trees and if it doesn't pollinate well on its own, instead of getting another tree you could graft another variety onto the tree you already have. Also you could just buy a 2 in 1 tree right off the bat.

opabinia51
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Location: Victoria, BC

Excellant idea peachguy!

Hmmm, I'm not really sure with the flood plain and the roots. My gut instinct is to say that it would be fine but, I'm not sure. What do others think?

peachguy
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Location: Ontario

I would say if you are willing to replace the tree if does die then go ahead and plant it in or near the flood plain. If you don't want to spend a lot of money and only buy it once then i would take the safe route and plant it out of the flood plain.

opabinia51
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Location: Victoria, BC

Yes, now that I've had a chance to think about it the roots would grow towards the water source and therefore would be inudated with water during the flood season.

Thanks peachguy!

Anybody else have experience with growing trees in flood conditions? I would think that with the number of varieties of apples out there that at least one would have either evolved or been bread to deal with heavy water loads.

femlow
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Location: 5a - Maine

I had a few varieties of apple trees and other fruit trees in my back yard, and every year my backyard gets atleast an inch of water sitting on top, often a l t more, and sometimes up to a foot of mud under that. We have also had years when the water gets backed and one year we had about two feet of water for a while, until we got someone to help clear out the culvert. They have endured a lot of less than perfect conditions through the years that we have had them (they were also severely torn up by rutting one year, and lasted through a puppy who used to like to lay under trees and chew on them for hours at a time) and these trees are still doing fine and produce a great crop of apples every year (though the birds tend to get to most of them before we do, as with all our other fruit trees). They seem to be pretty hardy, so I think your trees would be fine.

fem

MaineDesigner
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Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b

It is important to distinguish between what trees will or might tolerate and what conditions they prefer. Apples do not like saturated soils but they do like relatively consistant moisture. Often berming up a planting by as little as six to nine inches can make a considerable difference in a wet site. Just don't make to slope of the berm too abrupt. A rise of not more than 2 inches per foot of run both looks better and makes watering easier than a sharply rising berm.
McIntosh is extremely susceptible to scab. I think you would do better to choose a more disease resistant apple e.g. GoldRush, Liberty, Freedom, Prima, Priscilla etc. The caveat is that my familiarity is limited to apples in Zones 4 & 5 (and to a limited extent 6). You would be well advised to locate someone with apple expertise within your region.

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Great input, MaineDesigner

And welcome to the Helpful Gardener Forum!
:)

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