Apples require full sun and well drained soils to grow well. Apples are not self-fruitful, and require another apple tree of a different variety to act as a pollinator. Any other variety of apple, including flowering crabs will work as a pollinator. The two trees should be located as close as possible to each other, but any other apple tree within 100 yards should be close enough to be effective for pollination.
Size characteristics of the mature tree are determined by the rootstock, which also plays a role in the overall hardiness of the tree.
Standard rootstocks produce trees with a mature size approximately 18'-20' tall. They are the most winter hardy rootstocks, but can take from 3 to 5 years on average to begin producing fruit, although a few varieties may take up to 8 years to begin producing fruit. Standard rootstocks are reliably hardy in zone 3.
Semi-dwarf rootstocks (Malling 7A rootstock on our trees) produce trees that are approximately 12'-15' tall. They will begin producing fruit 1 to 2 years sooner than standard rootstocks, but are not as winter hardy, requiring a consistent 2 to 4 inch snowcover to be reliably hardy in zone 3.
Dwarf rootstocks (Malling 26 on our trees) produce trees that are approximately 8'-10' tall. Like semi-dwarf rootstocks, they require a consistent 2 to 4 inch snowcover to be reliably hardy in zone 3. Dwarf trees will produce fruit 1 to 2 years sooner than standard rootstocks.
When planting semi-dwarf and dwarf varieties, plant the graft (bud) union at least 2" above ground level to prevent scion-rooting and loss of dwarfing characteristics. Unless indicated otherwise, trees are grafted on standard rootstocks (see price list for sizes).
Pruning of apple trees should be done when the trees are dormant and temperatures are below freezing for most of the day. Best times for trimming are from mid-February to the end of March. All pruning tools should be sterilized in a 10% bleach solution for 15 seconds before trimming the next tree.
Apple varieties may produce fruit every year (annual bearing) or produce fruit every-other year (biennal bearing). Where we have experience we indicate the fruiting charcteristics of the variety.
CHESTNUT CRABAPPLE: University of Minnesota, 1946. Originated as an open-pollinated seedling of Malinda. A 2” diameter yellow-green apple with a pink cheek, ripening in late August and early September. A hard and good storing crabapple with a very sweet pleasant nut-like flavor for fresh eating. Stores up to Halloween if refrigerated. A very hardy tree which bears annually and begins producing apples the second or third year. Available on standard rootsock. Growing zones 3-7.
CONNELL RED: (McIntosh x Longfield) University of Minnesota, 1943. A red blush mutation of Fireside apple. 3” diameter intense deep red fruit ripens in late September to early October. Distinctive sweet flavor with no tartness. A long storing apple for eating and baking. Tends to be a biennal bearer. An excellent choice for an all purpose apple if you prefer a sweet apple that lacks tartness. Very Hardy. Unsuitable as a pollinator for Fireside and Snowsweet. Available on standard rootstock. Growing zones 3-7.
CORTLAND: (Ben Davis x McIntosh) New York, 1915. A medium sized red apple with a sprightly sweet flavor. The fruit is slightly flat, large, and has short stems holding close to the branches. Pure white flesh does not oxidize when cut. Ripens in late September. An annual bearer with a medium storage life. Available on standard rootstock. Growing zones 4 to 7.
FIRESIDE: (McIntosh X Longfield) University of Minnesota, 1943. An extremely large (greater than 3" diameter) red striped apple with a sweet, pleasant flavor. The parent apple of Connell Red. Resistant to cedar apple rust. Ripens in early October. An impressive large apple for anyone who likes sweet apples. A biennial bearer with a long storage life for eating and baking. Unsuitable as a pollinator for Connell Red and Snowsweet. Available on standard rootstock. Growing zones 4 to 7. Photo courtesy of Bailey Nuseries Inc.
FROSTBITE: University of Minnesota, 2010. An open pollinated seedling of Malinda. A small apple with a reddish-maroon color and an intense sugary flavor compared to sugar cane and molasses. A medium storing apple for cider, eating, and dried chips. Reported to be an annual bearer. Availablel on standard rootstock. Growing zones 3b to 7.
HARALRED: A Bailey Nurseries introduction of an all red sport of Haralson apple. Juicy, tart, firm 2 ½” fruit is slightly sweeter than Haralson. A natural semi-dwarf, this tree will stay more compact without being grafted onto a smaller rootstock. Ripens in early October, and can tolerate a light frost. For anyone who likes an apple that 'cracks' when bitten into, especially with a tart taste, this is an excellent choice. An extremely hardy variety, biennial bearing, and medium storage life. For eating and baking. Unsuitable as a pollinator for Haralson. Available on standard rootstock. Growing zones 3 to 7.
HARALSON: (Malinda x Wealthy) University of Minnesota, 1923. A natural semi-dwarf tree with green and red striped 2 ½” fruit. Tart, crisp, and juicy fruit that 'cracks' when bitten into. Ripens in early October and can tolerate a frost. One of the hardiest apple trees available. Biennial bearing with a medium shelf life. Eating and baking. Unsuitable as a pollinator for Haralred. Available on standard rootstock. Growing zones 3 to 7.
HONEYCRISP: (Keepsake x Unnamed seedling) University of Minnesota, 1991. A sweet and explosively crisp, juicy apple with 2 ½” to 3” red striped fruit. Has quickly become one of the most popular apples in the marketplace. May take 5 years to begin producing fruit. Ripens in late September. Long storing apple for eating and baking. Available on standard and semi-dwarf rootstock. Growing zones 4 to 7.
HONEYGOLD: (Golden Delicious x Haralson) University of Minnesota, 1969. A 2 ½” yellow apple, occasionally displaying a pink cheek. Fruit is crisp, juicy and sweet with no hint of tartness. Ripens in late September. A perfect choice for anyone who likes Yellow Delicious apples. A medium to long storing apple for eating and baking. Available on standard rootstock. Growing zones 4 to 7.
McINTOSH: (Fameuse x Detroit Red) Ontario, Canada, 1870. An older variety with a slightly tart flavor. Medium sized bright red fruit ripens in mid-September. A somewhat biennial bearer for eating and baking with a medium storage life. A good all purpose apple for people who like a bit of tartness, but find fully tart apples too much. Available on standard rootstock. Growing zones 4 to 7.
NORTHWEST GREENING APPLE: (Golden Russet x 'Alexander') Wisconsin, 1895. An extremely large (often softball sized) yellow-green apple with pure white flesh that is firm and tart. Excellent for cooking, baking, and eating. A late ripening (mid October) apple with excellent long term storage properties. A hardier substitue for Granny Smith apple which is not hardy this far north. Available on standard rootstock. Growing zones 4 to 7.
RED BARON: (Golden Delicious x Daniels Red) University of Minnesota, 1970. A 2 ½” diameter red apple that is crisp and juicy with a mild flavor. A biennial bearer that ripens in mid-September with a medium storage life. Quite hardy. For eating and baking. Available on semi-dwarf rootstock. Growing zones 3 to 6.
RED PRAIRIE SPY: University of Minnesota, 1940. A 3" red apple with creamy white flesh and a juicy, flavorful taste. An extremely long storing apple ripening in October. A biennial bearer that is a good substitute for Braeburn. Very slow to come into production, often taking 6 to 8 years. Available on standard rootstock. Growing zones 4-7.
RED REGENT: (Daniels Red Duchess x Delicious) University of Minnesota, 1963. A very popular Minnesota apple. Fruit is 2 ½” to 3" in size with a distinctive shoulder and a bright red color. Flesh is juicy and crisp, with an outstanding balance of sweet and tart. Excellent for eating and baking. A good storing apple. Available on semi-dwarf rootstock. Growing zones 4 to 7. Photo courtesy of Bailey Nuseries Inc.
SNOWSWEET: (Sharon x Connell Red) University of Minnesota. A newer release, this 3" bright red apple is deliciously sweet and crisp with distcintive buttery overtones. Many of the excellent charcateristics of Connell Red are evident in the fruit quality. Slow to oxidize when cut. A good storing apple for eating and baking. Unsuitable as a pollinator for Connel Red and Fireside. Available on standard and semi-dwarf rootstock. Growing zones 4 to 7.
SWEET SIXTEEN: (MN447 x Northern Spy) University of Minnesota, 1978. Medium sized red striped apple with a crisp, juicy texture. Excellent sweet, unusual flavor – like cherry candy. An outstanding dessert apple, it can be slow to come into bearing, as much as 6 to 8 years on standard rootstocks. Stores well. Available on dwarf rootstock. Growing zones 3b to 7.
WODARZ: From North Dakota State University and R.L. Wodarz family. Considered to be one of the hardier apples, Wodarz has an uneven shape and yellow to green skin with a pink blush ripening in late September and early October. Flesh is white, firm, mild and sweet. Use for eating or baking. Store up to 3 months. Available on standard rootstock. Growing zones 3 to 6.
ZESTAR: (State Fair x MN Selection) University of Minnesota, 1998. An early apple that is crisp and juicy, storing for 6-8 weeks. Large, red fruit with an excellent sweet-tart flavor that is produced annually. A great apple for eating and baking. Inherits the best traits of 'State Fair', with much better storage qualities. An underrated variety that is easy to grow, and begins producing fruit in just 3 years on standard rootstocks. Available on standard rootstock. Growing zones 4 to 7.
Tart cherries require full sun and well drained soils. Tart cherries are self-fruitful, and require no other trees for pollination. Tart cherries are annual bearers, producing fruit each year. Just like apples, cherries should be pruned in late winter or early spring before April 1st. Cherries are shorter lived than other fruit trees, usually reaching their life span in 15 to 18 years.
EVANS BALI: Deep dark red fruit is up to 1” in diameter and excellent for eating and baking. Sweeter than other tart cherries. Can be eaten fresh or used for baking. Ripens in mid-July. May take up to 4 years to begin producing fruit. Height: 15’. Growing zones 3 to 8.
METEOR: A genetic dwarf introduced by the University of Minnesota, 1952. Large, bright red fruit is fine for sauce and pies, but is good for eating if fully ripe. Usually produces the second year after planting. Ripens in mid-July. Height: 10’ – 14’. Growing zones 4 to 8.
NANKING: A hardy and vigorous large growing shrub that produces bright red 1/3” diameter cherries in mid-July. Can be used for jellies, but may also be eaten fresh if you beat the birds to them. Height: 8’ – 10’. Growing zones 2 to 6.
Pears require full sun and well drained soils. Pears are not self-fruitful, and require pollination. Because of the low sugar content and nectar of the flowers, pears require the pollinator to be planted closer than other fruit trees. Any two pears can be used for pollination, as long as they are two different varieties. Pears are large trees, reaching heights of up to 30 feet or more. Just like apple trees, pruning should be done in late winter or early spring prior to April 1st. Most pears take 4 to 6 years to begin producing fruit.
Since pears ripen from the inside out, determining when to pick them is different from apples or other tree fruits. To determine the ideal time to harvest, gently lift the pear up. If the stem releases from the branch cleanly without breaking, it is ripe and ready to pick. If the stem of the pear does not release, or the stem breaks, it is not ripe. Check again in two days. If you wait for the fruit to ripen to the point where it drops to the ground, you will find the center of the fruit overripe and may even have begun to rot.
LUSCIOUS: (South Dakota E31 x Ewart) South Dakota State University, 1973. The sweetest pear you will ever eat! A juicy 2 ½” - 3" long bright yellow pear. An excellent eating, canning and dessert pear with a smooth flesh. Ripens the 2nd week of September. Stores for 4 to 6 weeks when refrigerated. An annual bearer that is fireblight resistant. Growing zones 4 to 8.
PARKER: University of Minnesota, 1934. A 3" long yellow-bronze pear with a red blush cheek and a fine grained texture. Tender, sweet and juicy, with a good storage life. A good pollinator for Luscious. Ripens the third week of September. Growing zones 4 to 8. Pears courtesy of Mike Rothstein.
SUMMERCRISP: University of Minnesota, 1985. A 2" to 2 ½” long pear with a distinct pyriform shape. An early ripening pear that should be picked in mid-August while crisp and green with a red blush. Fruit picked at this time will be sweet and crisp, and will store up to 2 months. An annual bearer that is fireblight resistant. Growing zones 4 to 8.
Like other fruit trees, plums require full sun and well drained soil. Most plums varieties are hybrids of Japanese and American plums. This results in hardy, delicious fruit, but also creates a tree that is nearly sterile. A pollinator is needed, and using Toka or native plum will result in a fruit set. Plums are small trees (15 feet tall or less) and relatively short lived (15 to 18 years). Pruning should be done in late winter or early spring (similiar to apple trees) prior to April 1st.
Clingstone varieties have flesh which adheres to the pit of the plum. The flesh around the pit may be tart or slightly bitter.
Freestone varieties have flesh which does not adhere to the pit. The fruit stays sweet all the way through the fruit to the pit.
ALDERMANN: University of Minnesota, 1986. A 2" plum with burgundy red skin and yellow flesh. Soft and sweet for eating and preserves. Clingstone. Use Toka as a pollinator. Growing zones 4 to 8.
BLACKICE: A cross of a cherry plum with a Japanese dessert plum. Large, round, blue skinned fruit with a red flesh. Very sweet and juicy, it is excellent for eating and preserves. A natural semi-dwarf. Use Toka as a pollinator. Clingstone. Growing zones 4 to 8.
MOUNT ROYAL: A blue skinned 1 ½” medium sized plum with dark yellow flesh. Tender and juicy. Excellent for dessert, jams and preserves. A self pollinating variety. Freestone. Growing zones 4 to 8. Photo courtesy of Bailey Nuseries Inc.
TOKA: South Dakota State University, 1911. A 1½” sized red, richly flavored plum with yellow flesh. An excellent pollinator, but also great for eating, canning and jellies. Clingstone. Growing zones 3 to 8.