Two fruit trees needed to pollinate?

Discussion in 'Lawn Care/Landscaping' started by SD44, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. SD44

    SD44 New Member

    Messages:
    40
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Just planted a red delicious apple tree a couple weeks ago. I'm told now that it needs a second tree to cross pollinate from, if it is to ever make fruit. Is this true for every type of fruit tree?
  2. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    No, there are many varieties (other than apples) that are self-pollinating.

    For apple trees, you can get trees that have several varieties grafted on one root stock, so it becomes "self-pollinating."

    Raintree Nursery in Washington state has a great selection of fruit trees including grafted "3 in 1" apples, pears, etc.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2011
  3. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Incidentally, Raintree ships bareroot trees all over the country. I have had very good luck with them shipping to me in the midwest.

    They have tables on whether each type of tree needs a pollinator or not, and if so, which other trees pollinate the best.

    http://www.raintreenursery.com/pollin_apples.cfm
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2011
  4. SD44

    SD44 New Member

    Messages:
    40
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Thanks Steve. Walmart has gotten into the fruit tree business this year, so that's where I bought my semi-dwarf red delicious apple tree. I have no idea if it's grafted or not. It's already about 6 ft tall, if it will make fruit how many more years do you think it will take to bear?
  5. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Virtually all apple trees, and probably most fruit trees, are grafted, but unless the tag says otherwise, it will be only one variety of apple. The "3 in 1" types I mention are not that common and usually available from custom fruit tree places like Raintree.

    The reason yours is grafted is so the grower can match the type of apple you want (red delicious) with the size tree you want (semi-dwarf) - since the rootstock determines the ultimate size of the tree. Had the grower grafted the same red delicious top with a full-size rootstock, your eventual tree would be much taller.

    The thing to watch when you plant it is to make sure you don't bury the "graft union" which is the swollen part of the trunk at the bottom of the tree and it is where the top was grafted to the rootstock. If the graft union is underground, it is possible that the top of the tree will put down its own roots and you won't have a semi-dwarf tree anymore.

    You will need another apple tree nearby to pollinize it or no apples at all.

    It will probably take about 3 years to get your first crop, and then it will only be a few apples. The fruit-tree books usually advise us not to let a young tree bear too many apples for the first 3-4 years since it slows down the tree's growth.
  6. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Here's a web site from N. Carolina which has a nice table showing which apple varieties will pollinate which other varieties:

    http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-8301.html

    So - the good news is you get to pick out another variety of apple to have in your yard!

    Good luck with this - fruit trees are fun - nothing like picking your own home-grown fruit. I remember a peach tree I used to have which produced so many juicy peaches that we couldn't pick them fast enough. My wife made me get rid of it since we had peaches rotting on the ground since we had so many!

    Now I have a "nectaplum" which is a combination plum/nectarine, and also a semi-sweet cherry tree both of which I planted last year, in addition to a "4 in 1" apple tree.
  7. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,350
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    OK, here's the straight dope from the heart of apple country. All apple trees are grafted with a variety to root stock. Red Delicious apples do need a pollinator. For many years, The Red Delicious was the apple of choice in Washington State, and the common pollinator was the Golden Delicious. The Golden became so popular that often there were as many Golden trees in a block as Reds. Some growers however, elected to graft limbs of a pollinator stock into the Red trees. Now there are many other varieties of apples being produced and the Reds and Goldens are not nearly as popular as they used to be. My best advice to anyone wanting a fruit tree in the back yard, is to forget it. Too many problems with care such as pruning, thinning, and spraying for what the fruit the tree provide. That said, if you really have to do it, then have a nursery obtain a scion of Golden Delicious and graft it to your Red Delicious. If you have room for 2 trees, consider one of each, but realize that Golden Delicious tend to alternate bear...heavy one year and light the next.
  8. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Note that the OP is from Mississippi.

    This will limit the choices of apples that will thrive in a climate with limited number of chill hours - many fruit trees, including most apples, need a certain number of hours below a certain temperature before they will set fruit. It's helpful to check with your local county extension agent to see what can/can't be grown in your region.
  9. SD44

    SD44 New Member

    Messages:
    40
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Thanks for all the info guys. Yep, I'm in MS and I live out in the country, got plenty of room on my 5 acres. I ended up buying another red delicious tree, and planted it about 10 ft away. I also bought two semi-dwarf sweet pear trees and planted them the same. All are 6-7 ft tall. My only worry is that my land has a high clay content. I made sure to put plenty of gin mote in the holes when I planted them. They all already have sprouted plenty of leaves.
  10. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,350
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Steve W brings up a good point regarding your warm climate. I really don't know for sure, but he believe he has a valid point regarding your warm climate being not suited for Red Delicious. Beyond that, perhaps you didn't understand the point I made about pollinators. Two Reds will not pollinate each other, they a uni sex ual. You must have a pollinator tree of a variety that is bi sex ual. As I pointed out, one of the common ones is the Golden Delicious, but there are others. The trees may grow just fine, but they will not bear fruit without a pollinator. Pears are bi sex ual, but will not pollinate apples.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2011
  11. Sissie

    Sissie New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I could use some advice on this subject, too. We just purchased a tree that is graphted with 3 varieties of apples, (yellow delicious, figi & gala) and another tree that is graphted with 4 fruits, (peaches, plums, apricots & nectorines).
    Since they have multiple varieties on them, are they self pollinating or do we need to purchase more trees to pollinate them?
    Also, we could use some advise on pruning graphted trees.....how & when? We don't want to cut off a graph by accident.
  12. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Typically a grower would put fruit varieties together which are either self-polinating or which pollinate each other.

    A good source for fruit trees, and info, is Raintree Nursery. They have a free plant care guide on their web site that gives some info on pruning 4-in-1 trees.
  13. Sissie

    Sissie New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Thanks for the info!
  14. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    My pleasure. I have a 4-in-1 apple tree in my yard from Raintree. It is now entering its 4th season so hope to get some apples this year.

    The 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 trees are nice in that you do get these different varieties in one tree. The downside is that often one or more of the grafted plants grows faster than the others and so you do have to keep up with the pruning or eventually the tree gets lopsided. So far it has worked out OK for my tree by doing some serious pruning in late winter.

    If you look carefully at the point where the different branches meet the trunk, you can usually see a swollen place which is the graft site.
  15. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    My pleasure. I have a 4-in-1 apple tree in my yard from Raintree. It is now entering its 4th season so hope to get some apples this year.

    The 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 trees are nice in that you do get these different varieties in one tree. The downside is that often one or more of the grafted plants grows faster than the others and so you do have to keep up with the pruning or eventually the tree gets lopsided. So far it has worked out OK for my tree by doing some serious pruning in late winter.

    If you look carefully at the point where the different branches meet the trunk, you can usually see a swollen place which is the graft site.
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