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Fruit trees not fruiting/blooming?

Posts: 17
Location: Western Oregon
homeschooling kids cooking
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This year we purchased 6 bare root trees, all of which are self-fruitful, the exception being the apple and pear (but we have another apple and pear tree, the 5 variety type, that is presently showing tiny fruits). The trees were actually rather large when we bought them, Some over 12' tall with trunk diameter ranging from 1-2 or so inches (we planted in fall and faithfully - and painfully - pruned about 1/3 of the tree away). So these are not tiny little whips.

The lapin cherry had many blooms, the moyer prune a few, the pudget gold apricot a few, and the asian pear (I forget the variety...but it is self-fruitful according to my research) also had a cluster. The regular ol' apple and pear were empty.

I'm not seeing any signs of fruiting at all on the trees that did have some blooms, but the leaves sure look healthy and lovely. I know typically a tree with take a few years to produce, but is that true even if the trees were clearly already a few years old? In the nursery we purchased from, the woman pots whatever bare root trees don't sell (and they cost a heck of a lot more!) and at the end of the season I saw fruit on those trees...so shouldn't I see them on mine?

Just wondering if we have duds, need a companion even though all the research suggests they are self-fruitful varieties or we just need patience.

(On a side note our early elberta dwarf tree (not bare root) is going nuts and the neem oil seemed to halt the leaf curl - so I'm hoping for some fruit there - homegrown peaches, what could be better!?)
Posts: 263
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Hello Dee!

I personally wouldn't worry about your trees, and hears why. First off, even self polinating trees can benefit from an addition compatible polinator. With that said, your questions could have a number of any different answers, or a combination of them depending on the exact circumstances.

With limited flowers on any given tree, that limits the oppertunity for pollen to successfully polinate the flowers. Pollen has to still get from the male part which produced the pollen, to the female part where fertilization takes place, and that fertilization needs to be adequate enough to triger fruit development. Maybe the trees at the nursery had more compatible pollen available, more pollinators, less stress, more compatible soil and or nutrition. (Professional growers know what soil and nutrients work, plus they typically water with a timer. Even one missed watering, or the soil getting to dry for the recently bare rooted tree, can cause enough stress for blossom drop at any stage in flowering.) Any number of factors or combination of factors could contribute to no fruit production on given trees, in a given area, or a given season. Other factors either way could be: trees were under some type of stress like transplant stress or dehydration from limited root development or water access; temperatures not inducive to polinators, polination or even inadequate polination from any number of sources like untimely weather or rain. Soil type, nutrition, pH, water availability, microclimates, surrounding habitat, the type of root treatments or soil treatments done by the grower on their trees, and even spacific location can have varying environments and effects on environment that also effect successful pollination and fruit development.

So without details in every relevant factor for scientific comparison between your trees and the nursery trees, and I mean even factors that are seemingly miniscule, unnoticed and insignificant to the layperson. Even a certified arborist specializing in fruit trees, could only make statistically improbably guesses as to whats happening, and thats actually the worst possible thing to do.  Guessing whats wrong with living organisms, is like taking your car to the mechanic, and saying I think something may be wrong, and without any proper testing, they just guess and start replacing parts, untill they by chance replace the right one...lol. Only with plants/trees those wrong guesses dont just coast money, they typically cause increasing stress to the plants. It's essentially how people love their plants to death.

There are to many factors, and not enough information to quantify any conclusive answer besides speculation of probabilities. If your problems persist next year, that would be a good time to look at adequate pollinaton, and solutions. This year I would focus on  healthy soil and soil biome, adequate nutrition and water for maximizing health and growth; then if you don't get pollination next year, you'll be able to quickly figure out if it was weather related, lack of pollinators or lack of compatible pollen. Once you know the exact problem, you can easily and efficiently solve the problem. I personally would match even a self fertile tree, with another flower cycle and pollen compatible tree, which also produces a desirable fruit, since fruit sets are documented to be better under those conditions.

Hope that helps!
Posts: 741
Location: Porter, Indiana
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I wouldn't worry much about this year. The trees had a major shock so it's probably best that they aren't spending energy fruiting this year.
Posts: 379
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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I had just posted this picture to a thread on grafting ( and buying ) apple trees. At the same time I was engrossed in the grafting I was also looking for a Red Rome semi-dwarf tree and or a scion, which I couldn't find. So I decided to buy a dwarf which I can't stand. I planted the dwarf and an apple rootstock which will produce a semi-dwarf tree but it's on a full size rootstock. I planted this on April 23. and this past Monday the tree was setting blossoms. I took this picture today. My plans are to graft a piece of the dwarf to the semi-dwarf that's planted in the same hole.

My thinking is that it's not my green thumb, which I always call a brown thumb from my soil improvement. It's not my knowledge of apples. It's just random luck. If I had a huge orchard, did my own grafting on rootstocks I grew myself, using scions I cut off my own trees I would when I found a tree in the field , blooming this early, pick it out, pot it, and sell for extra bucks. If I sold some wholesale I'd hold these back.

It's always said that growing apples from seed gives you trees which take 10 years to produce fruit. That's not true if an apple is both pollinators. Some will produce at 3 years. I doubt the tree in the following picture is 3 years old, might be. But I also had a Golden Delicious and a Honeycrisp bloom for the first time this year. The Honeycrisp I planted 4 years ago the Golden Delicious 3 years ago. The Red Rome might not have a polliination partner, except that the Honeycrisp also bloomed late. It also had about the same number of blossoms.

I tried to control the pollination on a MacIntosh apple this year. It was an experiment to test if both parents are the same apple variety that the seeds will grow a high number of similar to MacIntosh apples. It's not easy pollinating a blossom. I wanted pollen from an unopen blossom and I wanted that pollen to pollinate an unopen blossom. The pollen isn't ready, so I looked it up. You need to take the pollen from a blossom that's ready, which it isn't if the blossom wasn't open. So my pollen source was probably contaminated by pollen the bees were hauling around. A lot of the blossoms never get pollinated. Then if the blossom does get pollinated a lot of the fruit that develops prematurely falls off the tree. A lot of it. So if you have a small tree, a small dwarf tree, your not likely to get ripe fruit.

The picture:

[Thumbnail for DSC_8227hi.JPG]
Rome apple 3 weeks from planting a bare root !!
Posts: 102
Location: Fairplay, Northern California
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One reason why fruit trees, which bear fruit on spurs, don’t bear for a few years after planting is that the spur wood takes time to develop, 2-5 years in some cases.
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