Fruit and nut trees make excellent additions to a landscape, but how do you know which trees to plant? The questions below will help you select the best fruit and nut trees for your landscape.
How big of a tree do you want? Fruit and nut trees are available in standard, semi-dwarf, and dwarf sizes. Standard fruit and nut trees can reach 20 feet in height and width, or more. Semi-dwarf trees grow 12-15 feet tall and wide, while dwarf trees only reach 8-10 feet. Smaller trees have the added advantage of being easier to care for and producing fruit sooner than larger trees. Some varieties tend to stay smaller naturally. Standard sized peach and nectarine trees, for example, rarely grow larger than 12-15 feet. Most dwarf trees can be grown in large containers.
How big of a crop can you use? Different tree species produce different sized crops. Under ideal conditions, a mature dwarf apricot tree only produces 40 pounds of fruit, while a standard apricot tree might yield 240 pounds. Using the same amount of real estate, a dwarf apple tree might produce 200 pounds of fruit, a semi-dwarf apple can yield 400 pounds, and a standard apple tree might produce 600 pounds of apples! That’s a lot of applesauce!
What is your Hardiness Zone? Hardiness Zones are geographic regions with specific annual minimum temperatures. This information helps you select plants appropriate to your microclimate. If you live in San Jose, California, you will want fruit and nut trees suited to Hardiness Zone 9 (a or b).
How much sun does your yard get? Most fruit and nut trees need at least 8 hours of sunlight each day to be healthy and productive.
Will you need a pollinator tree? Some fruit and nut trees are self-fertile. This means they have both male and female flowers and only one tree is needed. Other varieties need a second tree for cross-pollination. Self-fertile trees are significantly more productive when there is a second tree nearby.
Which pests and diseases are in your neighborhood? Knowing ahead of time which pests and diseases are likely to affect your fruit and nut trees can help you select varieties that are resistant. This means less work for you.
How many chill hours does your yard get? Chill hours are the combined number of hours below 45°F experienced by a tree each year. Without adequate chill hours, trees will generally not produce. Most of northern California gets 800 to 1,500 chill hours, but Santa Clara County averages less than 450 chill hours each year.
Fall is the best time to plant bare root trees in San Jose, California, just be sure to plant them at the proper depth. This means the flare of the trunk and any grafting are visible above the soil level. For the first few years, when your fruit tree produces flowers, it will live a longer, more productive life if you remove those blossoms before they start turning into a crop. This gives the tree the time it needs to generate a healthy root system.
Now start planting!
A gooey, clear ooze dripping from your apricot, peach, or nectarine tree may indicate a fungal disease known as gummosis. Or, it might not.
Gumming is a natural protective response used by trees to counteract environmental conditions, such as sunscald, frost damage, improper pruning, planting too deeply, excessive irrigation, and too much fruit production. Mechanical injuries caused by lawnmower collisions, rubbing branches, and outgrown tree supports can also cause gumming, as well as insect infestation by peach tree borers, flathead borers, and other boring insects, and by diseases such as Eutypa dieback, cytospora canker, Fusarium dieback, and bacterial spot.
When mechanical injury or environmental conditions are the cause, it’s usually pretty easy to see. When gumming is caused by insect invasions, you will normally see insects and bits of sawdust caught in the gum. When gumming is in response to disease, you need to read up on the possible diseases to know for sure what your tree has.
Apricot gummosis symptoms
Apricot gummosis starts out looking like blisters on branches and the trunk. As the disease progresses, the tissue around these lesions will begin to die and the tree will produce gum. As fungal spores grow and reproduce, cankers will form.
Apricot gummosis pathogen
Apricot gummosis is caused by Botryosphaeria dothidea fungi. Fungal spores enter through wounds. These fungi are opportunists, causing blueberry stem blight and cankers on a wide variety of plants. Trees suffering from lower limb dieback are commonly infected by this pathogen in their weakened state.
Apricot gummosis prevention and treatment
Apricot gummosis occurs most often in years with a cool, wet spring, followed by high temperatures. There’s nothing you can do about the weather, but there are steps you can take to prevent and treat apricot gummosis.
Since gummosis generally occurs in trees that have been damaged in some way, protecting them from injury in the first place goes a long way toward preventing gummosis. Lawnmowers, weedwackers, careless pruning, borers, limb breakage, and other actions that can poke holes in a tree’s bark should be avoided. Whitewashing trunks and exposed branches can help prevent sunburn damage. Proper feeding and irrigation will keep your trees healthier in general. And always wait until your trees are dry before pruning.
If apricot gummosis is present, all infected wood should be removed, spraying cutting tools with bathroom cleaner between each cut. This helps prevent infecting healthy wood. Cuttings should be removed from the property right away.
Severe infections will require the use of fungicides. Research has shown that fungicides containing benomyl, fenarimol, iprodione, prochloraz, or tebuconazole. According to the study, “The best control was obtained with treatments of prochloraz mc alternated with mancozeb. Applications of bitertanol and fenarimol also significantly reduced the occurrence of cankers.”
As with any time you are using fungicides or other potentially dangerous chemicals, read the label and follow directions exactly.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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