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Pollination

Jim Boxberger - Correspondent
Posted 3/19/21

The question of the week, this week had to do with cross pollination. Many customers added fruit trees to their backyards last year and because of all the demand, not all varieties were available …

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Pollination

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The question of the week, this week had to do with cross pollination. Many customers added fruit trees to their backyards last year and because of all the demand, not all varieties were available last season.

So now we get asked everyday what trees need cross pollination so that their trees will be the most productive as possible. The simple version is that apple, pear and cherry trees planted anywhere in Sullivan, Wayne or Pike Counties do not need a second tree for good cross pollination.

It is not because we are so special, but rather that you cannot go anywhere in this area where you will not have another apple, pear or cherry within a mile or two, either cultivated or wild. Wind and insects are the major contributors to cross pollination and honeybees typically will cover a mile area while foraging for the best pollen.

And wild fruit trees will cross pollinate their cultivated cousins better than two different cultivated varieties. Now many people do not even know what a wild fruit tree looks like because they really never get any fruit on them or if they do get fruit it is small and blemished.

The only reason for that is that they are not tended to like the fruit tree you will grow in your backyard. Also over a hundred years or so of hybridization has made varieties that have larger fruit. So an apple, pear and cherry tree would be a good choice if you only have enough room in your backyard for one tree.

Peaches too, would be a good choice as they do not require a cross pollinator to achieve fruit although heavier yields are produced with two trees. Also with peach trees you could use a flowering almond tree as a cross pollinator, because almonds and peaches are from the same family. Nectarines or apricots do not need cross pollinators either.

The only fruit that is truly trouble are plums. Plums do need a cross pollinator, and there are two different families of plums, Oriental and European. A European plum will not cross pollinate an Oriental and visa-versa. So you need to make sure with plums that you get two different varieties and that they are from the same family type.

Most of the time we have someone come in to get a second plum tree for cross pollination, but they do not know what variety they have already and that is something I cannot help them with. Some popular oriental plums are Shiro, Burbank, Santa Rosa and Satsuma: and european plum varieties like Stanley, Green Gage and Fellenberg.

And if you were wondering, small fruits like blueberries, raspberries and the like, do not need cross pollination. Although with blueberries there are early, mid and late season varieties and you may want to get two that bloom at the same time for improved cross pollination and higher yields.

But if you happen to get into honeybees they will do all the work for you. Gooseberries, currants, jostaberries and goji berries do not need cross pollinators either, but arctic kiwi not only needs a cross pollinator but you need a male and female as well. I know this may seem complicated for some, but that is why I am here, so stop by and ask me a question.

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