Fruit trees

Asked July 6, 2019, 8:24 PM EDT

I'm wanting to plant a few fruit trees in my backyard. I want to know which tree can live alone and which need a partner to produce fruit.
I'm located in downtown Detroit

Wayne County Michigan

3 Responses

Hello. Most tree fruits need a pollinator tree to set fruit that will ripen and it is best to have two different varieties. A fruit tree may have fruit early in the season but without a pollinator tree the green fruit often falls off and does not develop. It is also possible to find trees that say ‘self-pollinating’ but for the best yield I would get 2 different trees of everything you want to grow.

What fruit trees would you suggest for a Detroit garden ?

Self-pollinating fruit trees include most types of sour cherries and most nectarines, peaches and apricots. Pears are somewhat self-pollinating fruit, but if cross pollination results in larger yields. About half of plum varieties are self-fruitful.

Apples require a pollination partner, which could be a nearby crabapple.

Some sweet cherry varieties are self fertile.

Estimated harvest times for peaches is commonly expressed as days before (-RH) or after (+RH) Redhaven, a midseason peach that harvests approximately the last week in July to the first week in August in southern Michigan. Peaches are particularly sensitive to mid-winter low temperature damage. More winter hardy varieties of somewhat so-so quality are Reliance (-0 RH), Madison (+28 RH) and Harcrest (+28 RH) but even these do not fare well when temperatures reach -13F or below. Redhaven is relatively tough as well, has good reputation for flavor but tends to have split pits. Other varieties with reputation for good flavor but less hardiness are Desiree (-26 RH), Summer Serenade (-10 RH) , Starfire (+3 RH), PF Lucky 13 (+6 RH), Bellaire (+3 RH), John Boy (+3 RH), Loring (+12 RH), Coralstar (+12 RH), Messina (+17 RH), Sweetstar (+20 RH) and PF24C (+24 RH). These are all yellow melting flesh peaches. Varieties ripening before Redhaven tend to be clingstone, after tend to be freestone. Varieties commonly found in Michigan area garden supply stores include Redhaven, Elberta, and Redskin. Elberta (+30 RH) is moderately hardy, somewhat fuzzy, so-so red skin coloration, medium sized, with good firmness and medium eating quality. Redskin (+28) has decent hardiness, medium size, good quality, and moderately attractive medium colored fruit, sometimes irregularly-shaped fruit.

A unique peach to consider is Saturn, a white flesh peento = flat doughnut peach variety. This variety is small, requires extra labor to thin and pick, has a tendency to split skin at the stem and is prone to brown rot, but has excellent flavor most years and has been commanding excellent prices. New peento peach varieties coming from New Jersey (NJF15, NJF16, NJF17, NJF18), and North Carolina (Galactica) have not shown sufficient winter hardiness.

Another peach niche are high quality non-melting yellow flesh varieties from the Vineland Ontario breeding program. These new varieties include Vulcan, Vinegold, Virgil, and Venture. Non-melting yellow flesh types are traditionally used as processing varieties—however, these types of varieties are also prized for their excellent fresh-eating qualities. Unlike the older processing types such as Babygold 5,7 and 8, the Vineland series have excellent bacterial spot resistance. All non-melting peaches are clingstone, which is not usually a problem to consumers.

The choices for nectarines are more limited because of the tendency of nectarines to have disease (brown rot and bacterial spot), surface blemish and small fruit size problems. Some of the more popular yellow and or promising yellow melting flesh types are June Glo (-7 RH), PF11-Nectarine (+0 RH), Flavortop (+12 RH), and Fantasia (+31 RH).

For the Michigan climate the recommended rootstock for peaches and nectarines are Bailey, Lovell, Tennessee Natural, Rutgers Redleaf, and slightly less desirable Halford. Guardian and Siberian C have shown some problems in the Midwest climate and the rootstocks Citation and Nemaguard are definitely poorly suited for the Michigan climate. Trees on Halford tend to be smaller than those on Bailey, Lowell, or Tennessee Natural.

Japanese type plums such as Early Golden, Methley, Shiro, Elephant Heart, Simka,
and Red Heart bloom relatively early in Michigan and are subject to spring frost problems. Bacterial spot is a common disease problem of Japanese and European plums in sandy sites exposed to wind storms.

European plums are more suited to the Michigan climate. Damson types, the #2 plum in Michigan, are small, have a tart flavor and are used mainly for processing. Stanley, the #1 plum, is medium quality but relatively hardy. Best opportunities for higher quality European plums in Michigan are the NY9, Castleton, Vanette, Victory, Vision, and Empress. Unlike Stanley, which was sour around the pit, these plums are sweet throughout. Stanleys have nice flavor but ripen quickly from sour, to just right, to soft.

Rootstock for Japanese plums are Myrobolan and Marianna 2624, and for European plum use Myrobolan.

Pluots (Plumcots)
These are crosses between plum and apricot, are becoming available from nurseries. Some of these are very sweet, but generally are prone to winter damage to wood and fruit bud and for this reason are generally not grown commercially to any large extent.

Tart Cherries
The standard pie cherry is Montmorency. Unusual tart cherry types to investigate include Balaton®, Jubelium®, and Danube™. These are morello types with red flesh and juice compared to Montmorency with yellow flesh and clear juice. Danube and Jubelium ripens before Montmorency and Balaton slightly after. They may be more prone to light cropping problems due to low winter temperatures and/or earlier bloom than Montmorency. Northstar and Surefire are two tart cherry selections with Montmorency characteristics, more reliable cropping than Montmorency, but have smaller fruit size.

Sweet cherries
Probably the biggest recent development in the sweet cherry arena has been the introduction of the Gisela® dwarfing rootstock. These rootstocks allow growers to reduce tree size and greatly increase the early bearing of sweet cherry varieties. G5 is the most dwarfing, G6 is intermediate, and G12 is the least dwarfing, resulting in a tree slightly smaller than on standard rootstocks such as mazzard or mahaleb. G5 is too dwarfing on sandy soils. Mahaleb rootstock is preferred over mazzard unless the site tends to have wetter soil, a situation for which mazzard is better suited.

Some of the better older sweet cherry varieties still worthy of planting are Cavalier, Viva, Viscount, Schmidt, and Ulster. Cavalier is somewhat shy bearing. Newer ones that had performed relatively well are Attika, Summit, Kristin, and Regina. Much newer ones with promise include Burgundy Pearl and Black Pearl, both from New York. A few varieties such as Stella and Sweetheart are self-fertile, but most varieties are self-infertile, and so need a companion variety to provide pollen.