Tips for a fruitful harvest under Collin County conditions
Fruit. Everybody loves fruit. It just seems so difficult to grow your own. It’s really not.
It will require a little homework though. To start with, fruit trees need “chilling hours,” which are hours under 45 degrees. Since we live in Texas, some fruit trees don’t do as well here because we seldom get too cold for too long. For example, apricots and Red Delicious apples require a high number of chilling hours (in the 1200 range), so the likelihood of getting a good crop is low.
Armed with this information, you can select the right trees and start growing your own fruit. We only carry low chilling hour fruit trees at Shades of Green, most of which are in the 400 to 700 hour range. You can choose from peaches, plums, pears, nectarines, apples (except Red Delicious), figs, and pomegranate.
The next question to consider is, “Do I need a pollinator or not?” The simple answer is, it’s best to always have two of the same fruit trees, but different varieties, so that they can cross-pollinate. You will get higher fruit production by doing this. Now I know there are a lot of peaches and some plums and apples that say they self pollinate. In my opinion, it’s still best to have two. The exceptions to this rule are figs and pecans.
The next thing you’ll need to know (before you learn the hard way), is that fruit trees require a spray schedule either with dormant oil or Neem oil. Apply once in early February while trees are dormant and again after the tree has flowered and dropped three quarters (3/4) of the blossoms. This keeps worms and pathogens like peach tree leaf curl from occurring.
Regular fertilization is also required 3 to 4 times a season. Remember, a fruit tree is producing food so it needs food.
You will want to prune your fruit trees while they are dormant as well, typically in January or February. Any branches smaller than a pencil should be removed and the remaining branches cut back a third for the first 2 to 3 years. This keeps the structure low and the branches thicker to sustain holding fruit.
Most fruit trees will yield full crops 3 years after planting and will do so for the next 15 to 20 years, so it’s worth the bit of effort required.
Now is the time to plant fruit trees and we just so happen to have a great selection on hand. We also have the knowledge you need to succeed, so stop by and see us at Shades Of Green and start planting your own backyard orchard today.
Robin Roberts is the Nursery Manager at Shades of Green Garden Center and a Texas Master Certified Nursery Professional with over 30 years of experience.