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Relative Flood Tolerance of Non-Dormant Fruit Trees

 
John Wolfram
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Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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Floodplain Fruits is an Indiana orchard located in the high floodplain of the Wabash River. The vast majority of flooding occurs in the late winter/very early spring before the trees of the orchard have leafed out and usually does not damage the dormant trees. However, a week of rain in the very late spring caused flooding which gives some insight into the relative flood tolerance of various fruit trees when they are leafed out. In general, the trees were at least partially submerged for about 3 days.

Overall, the pears seemed to laugh off the flood while the peaches lost their leaves that went underwater. The apricots also all their submerged leaves and appeared to be fairly stressed by the whole ordeal. The pawpaws and persimmons are all much younger that the other trees, but initial evidence suggests that the persimmons might be slightly more flood tolerant than the pawpaws.

The pear trees were largely unphased by the flooding. The mud covered leaves mark the high water point for the river.


The peaches lost their leaves below the high water point, but the leaves that stayed above the water look to be doing well.


The apricots also lost their flooded leaves, but the non-flooded leaves appear to be drooping more than the peaches. Time will tell for the ultimate survival rates of the various trees.


A tiny persimmon tree that looks to have made it through the flood. Some of the other persimmon trees appear to have lost all their leaves, but it is difficult to draw conclusions based off such tiny trees.


All of the tiny pawpaws lost their leaves.


My neighbor's mono-crop of corn appears to be wiped out.

 
John Wolfram
Posts: 632
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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July 4th Update:

After the first round of flooding the waters receded, but then came another few days of rain and the area re-flooded. As a result, the trees in the lowest lying areas have been partially submerged for two weeks straight now. Also, despite being about 1000 meters from the normal banks of the river, green frogs have taken up residence in the orchard and are helping to control the mosquito boom that ensued. Based on two weeks of observations, it looks like the relative flood tolerance of the fruit trees I have is as follows.

Pear ≥ Persimmon > Peach ≥ Plum ≥ Pawpaw ≥ Apricot

This pear tree has been partially submerged for two weeks, but during that time it has put on growth and its flooded leaves have survived and are now have a nice layer of mud on them.


While the peach trees lost all their submerged leaves, the portions of the trees that stayed above the water are now thriving.


The Apricots did not handle the flooding very well, and it now looks like the tree losses will be near 100%. I checked, and the apricot trees were all on seedling rootstock, so perhaps I will try replanting with apricots on myrobalan.


The small persimmons were fully submerged and lost a good percentage of their leaves (but not all of them) and are now vigorously leafing out.


The small pawpaws experienced conditions similar to the persimmons, but are not currently showing signs of life.


This Toka / Bubblegum plum is surrounded by apricots that look dead, but it now vigorously growing.



 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I wonder if you might have success growing some fruits on flood resistant root stock. I've seen plums in a foot of water. Peaches and apricots grafted on might be a good approach. Apples will sometimes work on pear trees.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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