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Growing fruit trees on your land can add value and beauty to the property if it’s done correctly. In Pahrump, Nevada, I’ve had good luck with several types of fruit especially, Apricots. Quite frankly, my “good luck” came after a lot of trial and error. Peaches, plums, apples, almonds, pears, cherry’s, and nectarines also do well for me. By picking your fruit when it is ripe, you can enjoy the full flavor that only fruit from your own trees can offer. Commercially grown fruit is most often picked long before it is ready so that it looks ripe by the time it reaches your local grocer. Unfortunately, that means that the fruit is lacking in both flavor and nutrients. In this blog, I noted many of my lessons learned. I hope they help you.
General fruit tree planting guidelines are as follows:
- Avoid planting citrus and tropical fruit here in Pahrump. Winter temperatures often drop below freezing during the winter months.
- Plant where your fruit trees will receive at least six hours of sun a day during the growing season.
- Sun should not be blocked by buildings, fences or other obstacles.
- Plant at least three feet from sidewalks and driveways and six feet away from buildings, as roots will spread wider than the tree crown.
- Allow ten to fifteen feet of space between fruit trees. This may seem too far apart but, your small 5 gallon babies will be on the fast-track after just 2 years. So, avoid the temptation to grow them too close.
- Select a watering/irrigation strategy that works for you. Keep in mind that rabbits and other small animals may chew-through your irrigation hose. Believe it or not, my wife and I hand water all of our trees and shrubs as needed.
Once you have decided what kind of fruit you would like to grow and determined that there is enough sun and space, the next step is to select varieties and rootstocks that are appropriate for your situation. Be sure to read the rootstock descriptions to choose the one that is best for your climate and soil. The next factor is the chill hours. Do you get enough chill (hours under 45 degrees) for the trees to set fruit? If you live in a very warm place like southern Florida, do not try to grow a 700 hour cherry because you will never get 700 chilling hours. Conversely, if you live in Maine, do not attempt a 200 hour peach because the peach will almost certainly bloom way too early, the blossoms will be destroyed and you will never get any fruit. The idea is to choose varieties that are suitable for your climate to maximize your success. I highly recommend that you consult with your local nursery and/or growing to determine what grows well in your neck of the woods.
Once your trees are planted, there will be maintenance required. It’s like raising kids. The amount will depend on what kind of trees you have planted. Watering, of course, will be the most important task. Mulching will help to retain soil moisture and reduce water needs. Fertilizing with a good organic fruit tree food is also recommended. Follow the directions on the package for application amount and frequency. Most fruit trees will require some pruning, if only to remove any dead or damaged wood. Pruning, in general, will help your tree grow better and produce better quality fruit.
Seasonal activities will include insect, pest and disease control. You can spray to control it during the dormant season. Another seasonal activity is fruit thinning, which involves the removal of some of the fruit so that what remains will reach a reasonable size. Some peaches and apples do require thinning for good fruit size.
With all this said, consult with your local nursery and/or grower to determine what trees grow successfully in your area and how best to maintain them.