growing a fruit tree in lead-contaminated soil

Asked May 8, 2019, 9:31 AM EDT

Hi - thank you for providing so much information on your website! We had our soil tested and the results were around 600 ppm, pH 5. We are growing herbs in containers but would really like to grow a fruit tree in the ground. I understand that leafy vegetables and root vegetables are the greatest concern, but I'm not finding any information speciifcally about fruit trees and lead. In your opinion, would it be safe to eat fruit grown in our backyard? I appreciate any guidance you can offer. Very best, Ruth Franklin

New York County New York fruits and vegetables fruit trees

1 Response

Hi Ruth,

I think it would be perfectly safe to grow a fruit tree (apple, pear, peach, etc) in soil with elevated lead. There is not a lot of research about how much lead various plants take up. Based I what I have tested here, we have not seen any accumulation of lead in tree fruits. Folks have brought me apple cider made from trees with more than 1000 ppm lead and the cider had no detectable levels. As you mentioned, the leafy greens and root vegetables are where one would see the lead accumulate. I have tested raspberries also grown in soil with a fair amount of lead but none was found in the berries. I would just be sure to wash the fruit before eating it.