Tuesday, January 04, 2011

New Test Fruits for 2011

I have some spots for new fruits. Golden Delicious has to go - no apples for 7 years; 2010 was the most promising but succumbed to disease. There is no room for consistent non performers. In addition, Chinese Mormon Apricot died last year. And finally, the Hazel nuts produced, and the squirrels got every nut. I don't think I can protect them from squirrels, and if I do it will be too much effort. So I think the hazel nut trees, will go, even though they look like they'll have a lot of nuts this year.

I need to re-think the peaches, too. The genetic dwarfs actually look beautiful, bloom like crazy, but require a lot of effort to cover from the rain to prevent leaf curl. I didn't have time this year. I may spray with copper this week, if I get a chance. Not sure how that will work if it is freezing.

Here are the selections I am thinking about from Raintree.

I did research on late-blooming (to avoid frost), leaf-curl-resistant peaches. There isn't enough information to choose one over the others - if I could, I would pick the latest-blooming, most leaf-curl-resistant. However, it looks like the old variety, Indian Free, has a good record in the Northwest (taking that with a grain of salt). The down side is it needs a pollinator, but I currently have 3 genetic dwarf peaches and one peach-plum hybrid, so I hope that at least one of those will suffice. Raintree states: "Said to be one of the all-time highest rated fruits at taste tests, this heirloom variety was grown at Monticello by Thomas Jefferson, who prized it for its rich color, flavor and size. Naturally resistant to peach leaf curl, the tree produces heavy crops of large, aromatic cling stone peaches that have red skin and white flesh marbled with crimson stripes. When fully ripe in mid to late season, the rich, sweet, distinctive flavor is excellent both eaten fresh." and David Wilson nurseries states this peach wins their taste test. I feel frustrated about the genetic dwarfs, they are really beautiful small trees and I invested a lot of time and effort, and space, to them, but to (potentially) lose a year's crop because I didn't have time to do leaf curl prevention in November/December is frustrating. And it takes several years to bring a new tree into production.

Cherries have been doing well, but the challenges are early bloom, resulting in loss of a lot of cherries to frost, and splitting when there is a late rain. Two years ago I added a tart cherry, Sure-Fire. It had its first few cherries last year, and I hope for a larger crop this year, although it is still young. Tart cherries do not nead a pollinator. Many, but not all, sweet cherries do, and it's complicated because some will not pollinate others. Raintree Nursery (source of these pictures) has pollinator information. I chose this variety, Almaden Duke, as a self-fertile variety, hoping they are sweet enough to eat out of hand and will bloom later. We'll see.

Finally, I want to re-think strawberries. I usually get too many in June, and they become a mess of runners. I would like to try an ever bearing variety in barrels or raised beds, for easier maintenance. I have a couple of barrels to use, so plan on trying that. I chose Seascape Ever bearing to test due to good reviews on the internet.

The change for strawberries will mean much less maintenance. The barrels are very easy to maintain. And I hope an extended season with fewer berries at any given time. This is in keeping with my goals of 2011. The cherry is easy to maintain at small size by backyard orchard culture methods (see label link), and the peach should be easy as well - so genetic dwarf may not even be necessary.

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