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Max distance for pollination for Apple Trees  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 54
Location: Zone 4, SD
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Greetings,

I have a Honeycrisp apple tree whose 'mate' passed away several years ago.  I planted another two apple trees about 30 feet then 60 feet away in a line.  One of those is starting to put out a few blossoms but the other may not make it - isn't dead but isn't growing.  A friend in the city, just picked up a Golden Delicious for me that should be here later in the week.  Pretty sure that an ancient, but dying crab apple about 120 yards away has been assisting with pollination.

Ideally, I would like to plant this Golden Delicious tree at the end of the existing row.  All of them so far are planted in a row that puts them at the edge of the east/west treed area between me and the creek and that keeps them on the south of the garden area so food plants are not shaded.   This would put it a little over 120 feet from the first, largest, oldest Honeycrisp tree.  Is that distance ok for pollination?

I keep reading 30 or 50 feet, but something has been helping the bees pollinate that first tree for the past 4 years since the other bearing tree died. [Don't know what kind of apple tree it was - planted years before I got here.]

Thanks!
 
pioneer
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Edible fruit trees are mostly entomophilous, meaning they are pollinated by insects, but there are a few exceptions that are wind pollinated, largely nut trees. Honey bees commonly have a range from their hive of two miles, while mason bees tend to have a much shorter range for foraging of just a couple hundred yards. There are other pollinators too such as certain flies and wasps. I suspect that the distance between your apple trees ought to pose no difficulty for any insects that come visit your trees during bloom time and I think your apple trees will pollinate just fine. Hope this helps!
 
Dakota Brown
pollinator
Posts: 54
Location: Zone 4, SD
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James Freyr wrote: Hope this helps!



Kind of what I figured, but in a crazy moment, I was suddenly unsure.  I mean, South Dakota requires you to make sure there are no other apiaries within 5 miles of you if you want to keep bees.  So ya figure they gotta have some range.  LOL!   So yes, your response helped me considerably.  Thanks a lot, James. 
 
James Freyr
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Glad to help.
 
Posts: 353
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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Two of the things that control whether two trees will pollinate is the size of the tree and whether the trees have blossomed at the same time. While it may be possible for a bee to pollinate something a couple miles away, why would it. Most bees I'd guess are too lazy to fly that far. Possibly in a desert type environment it may happen. Picture a field in an area that gets some rain. There's clover all over that seems to flower most of the growing season. When I watch the bees from my porch they don't seem to have much direction, they skip flowers and they skip plants. I can't picture those bees going to far afield.

If you have dwarf trees then it's said that bees won't pollinate if they're farther apart that 50 or 60 feet. I know of a dwarf Bartlett pear that produced 3 pears each season. How many blossoms did it have, I never counted them, but I'd guess a dozen or less. You said you planted trees 30 feet apart, so I'd guess you have at least semi-dwarf trees. At that distance you could've planted full size apple trees. I checked my Stark Bros catalog. They list Golden Delicious as one of the pollinators for Honey Crisp. They list Golden Delicious as a self pollinating variety, so I'd say your covered in that regard. Stark says of the Golden Delicious "A most universal pollinator for other apple varieties"

Crab Apple is considered a good pollinator for apples. They recommend using crab apples in orchards for a pollinator for, in my opinion, two reasons. You don't see dwarf crab apples so they have a lot of flowers. The other reason is that ensures that when you plant a seed from those apples the results won't be pleasant. But they also recommend putting crab apples fairly close together in a commercial orchard. They go on about needing them more than just occasionally in a row of trees. Some in each row, staggered throughout the orchard. Myself I'd rather have an occasional Golden Delicious.
 
Dakota Brown
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Thank you for the additional info, John. 
So far as I know, these are all standard size trees, not dwarfs.  The Honeycrisp for sure is.  I can never get the apples from the top!

I knew for sure that the Golden Delicious was supposed to bloom at the same time and be a good pollinator for the Honeycrisp so was watching for one to go on sale somewhere and had friends willing to go get them for me if needed.  Just suddenly panicked that my planned planting spot was too far away.

With luck, I will get my beekeeping supplies this year and will have my own bees in the middle of all of them next year.

Thanks again.
 
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