Tree Fruit and Small Fruit Jon

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  • Tree Fruit and Small Fruit


  • College ofAgriculture and Natural Resources

  • Reasons to grow fruitFlavor and quality, high store price, versatility, health benefitsIts a challenge lots to learn (part science, art, and mystery)long lived plants that require timely care and attention each seasonBut please start small; start with small fruitTake less space, more forgiving, can be grown organically, less expensive to maintain and easier to dig up

  • Fruit plants grown in MarylandTree fruitMajor- apple, European pear, peach, plum (Asian and European), sweet and tart cherry, figMinor- Asian persimmon, Asian pear, lemon, lime, orange, banana, pawpaw*Small fruit (take less space, more forgiving, can be grown organically, less expensive to maintain and easier to dig up)Major- strawberry, blackberry*, raspberry,* blueberry*, grape* Minor- currant, gooseberry, jostaberry, hardy kiwi, elderberry*, beach plum*, chokecherry*, medlar, citron*Native to mid-Atlantic

  • Will I have to spray a lot?Pest problems (commercial growers spray):Peach (many pests)Apple (many pests)Sweet cherryJapanese plumGrape

    Can grow these organically:

    FigRaspberry/blackberryCurrantStrawberryBlueberryAsian pearAsian persimmonEuropean plumSour cherry

  • How do fruit plants compare to tomato plants?Perennials that require 12-month attentionRequire hardening (chilling hours) to survive winter and produce fruitMaximum yields come with the correct balance of root, leaf, and fruit growthImportant to know when and where they produce flower buds and fruitCorrect pruning is essential to control growth and encourage fruiting

  • Plan aheadDo I have enough room? Enough time? Whats practical for me?Start planning one year before plantingSelect a full-sun, well-drained site Amend soil to achieve correct pH and high organic matter contentWork with your macro- and micro-climates

  • Picking cultivarsSelect well-adapted, recommended cultivars with good disease resistance. Buy high quality plants- certified, registeredBareroot plants will catch up to container plants Do I need a special rootstock? Do I need more than one cultivar for pollination?

  • What if my plants arrive too early?Keep roots moist and keep plants coolHeel in plants outdoorsORKeep plants in garage or refrigerator

  • Hydrating an apple whip in a bucket of water for 12 hours prior to planting3-year old bare-root apple whip has just arrived from the nursery. Notice graft union where the scion is joined to the rootstock.

  • Water and fertilizerRegular watering throughout the year is essentialShallow-root small fruit plants are especially vulnerable to drought stressFertilize with 1 inch of compost each springUse fertilizers according to recommendationsBe careful not to over-fertilize

  • Weeds and mulchAvoid herbicidesKeep mulch away from trunks and crownsOrganic mulch, pea gravelGrass or other living covers cancompete with fruit plants for water and nutrients

  • Wildlife issues Deer scat Vole feeding

  • Pruning Control size and shapeInvigorate- stimulate new fruiting woodImprove air circulation and increase sunlight interception

  • IPM- dealing with problemsAbiotic problems- drought, poor soil, frozen buds, etc.Biotic problems- insects, diseases, deer, etc.

  • Fruit profiles

  • StrawberryTwo main types for Maryland gardeners: the June-bearing type (predominate) and day-neutral type.Aggregate fruits have many stamens and pistils.King berry is largest in a cluster and has the most seeds.

  • Pineberry (pineapple strawberry)- white strawberry with red seeds; has some pineapple flavor.

    Small berries, low yield = not worth it!

  • This raised bed is too wide for good fruit production. An 18 to 24-inch bed would be ideal.b is the correct planting depth for strawberry plants, leaving the top of the crown above ground.

  • Common strawberry pestsGray mold (botrytis) is a serious problem with cool, wet weather.Strawberry leaf spot- a fungal disease.

  • BlackberryPerennial crown; biennial canesVery well adapted to all parts of MarylandFour types:Thorny erect (excellent flavor)Thornless trailing (rampant growers; large fruit)Thornless erect (good choice for small spaces)Primocane-bearing, thorny erect

  • Drip irrigation line suspended from support wire to prevent vole feeding on plastic tubing.Floricane laterals are tipped at 18 inches to increase fruiting.

  • Prime-Jim thorny erect blackberry that bears on first-year canes in late summer through frost.

  • RaspberryPerennial crown; biennial canesLess heat-tolerant than blackberry, but ok for all parts of MD Types:Red, purple, black; June bearingRed, yellow; primo-cane or fall-bearing. These can be cut 6-8 inches above ground-level in late winter or early spring.

  • Black raspberry- new shoots (primocanes) are thinned to 6 inches apart.Red raspberry plant tied to a single wire between posts.

  • Tip rootingNew raspberry plant from tip rootingLandscape fabric laid down to suppress weeds and raspberry suckers

  • Bramble problemsOrange rust- fungal diseaseCane borerSpotted wing drosophila (SWD)

  • Grapes Vitis vinifera- European wine grapes (less cold-hardy than native grape and more prone to diseases.Vitis labrusca- native fox grapes (seeded and seedless)

  • Seedless table grape cultivarsMarsCanadice


  • Black rot- #1 problem in backyard grapes

  • Blueberry

  • Underused small fruitsElderberry- SambucusRibes spp.-Currant- red, black and whiteGooseberry- American, European and crossesJostaberry

  • Black chokeberry- Aronia melanocarpa

  • Beach plum- Prunus maritima

    Native to U.S. Atlantic Coast

  • Wineberry- very invasive!Rubus phoenicolasius- China native that displaces native plantsSpreads by seed, suckers and tip rootingDelicious fruit- but Do Not dig up and transplant into your landscape

  • Some keys to apple success:Dwarfing rootstock- BUD 9, EMLA 9, EMLA 26Disease-resistant cultivars (scions); e.g. Liberty, Goldrush, EnterpriseSupport with stakes and wire (vertical and oblique cordons work well)Close attention to pruning, pest monitoringDont over-fertilize

  • Apple PruningSuggested Pruning CutsA. Suckers. B. Stubs or broken branches. C. Downward-growing branches D. Rubbing or criss-crossing branches E. Shaded interior branches F. Competing leaders G. Narrow crotchH. WhorlsFrom Clemson Univ. Extension fact sheet

  • Apple problems and growth stagesCodling moth larva; eggs are laid on young fruits by adult females at petal fall stage.Silver tip stagePink stage

  • Cedar apple rust- a common fungal disease that is difficult to control. Requires Eastern red cedar as the alternate host. Fireblight- a bacterial disease that can move through the vascular system of apple and pear, killing branches and trees.

  • Surround is a pulverized kaolin clay product that suppresses and repels some fruit insect pests such as codling moth, plum curculio, and apple maggot.

  • PeachPeach is best pruned to an open vase shape to maximize captured sunlight and fruit production.Peach fruits need to be hand-thinned to increase fruit size and decrease disease problems.

  • Peach leaf curl- fungal disease; prevent with fungicide application when buds swell in early spring.Black knot of plum and wild cherry- fungal disease; prune out symptomatic wood to prevent spread.

  • Bacterial spot diseaseGummosis- peach trees exude sap naturally and when stressed by insects, diseases and abiotic factors.

  • Brown rot- a major fungal disease of stone fruits.

    Dried, infected fruits are called mummies and must be removed from trees and ground.Bagging fruit to prevent bird, squirrel, and insect feeding.

  • Peach tree borer (PTB) larva feeding on cambium.

    Sap mixed with frass (sawdust-like excrement pushed out of entrance hole by larvae), indicates PTB presence.

  • Asian pear cultivar (russetted). Good landscape tree but susceptible to fireblight and deer.Quince rust fruiting bodies on Bradford pear fruit.

  • Olympic Asian pear

  • Portable fig in whiskey barrel is moved into garage for winter rest.Protected Baltimore City fig (tree form) with Southern exposure.

  • Shrub form with multiple fig stems pulled to center, tied and covered for winter protection.Same plant during growing season.

  • Root containment and root pruning will promote fruiting.Bird netting surrounds entire fig plant. Most birds will peck through netting and some may get tangled.

  • Brown marmorated stink bug injury

  • Late instar nymphsEggs and 1st instar nymphsAdult

  • Resources

    Grow It! Eat It! have all types of practical food gardening tips and information. Check out our popular blog!Home and Garden Information Center you will find factsheets, photos, and videos. You can also subscribe to the free monthly e-newsletter.We answer gardening questions 24/7just click Ask Marylands Garden Experts Maryland Master Gardener Program becoming a trained MG volunteer!

  • This program was brought to you by the Maryland Master Gardener ProgramFrederick CountyUniversity of Maryland Extension

    You can edit your own title, sub title, author and email.**Can I make the necessary commitment to tree fruit? *Depends on what part of MD. Even with global warming it can be tough to grow peaches or nectari