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Chapter 18: Fruit and nut production.

Fruit operations provide high-quality and bountiful varieties of fruits and nuts. Homegrown fruits can be enjoyed at the peak of ripeness. Supermarket fruits aim for this quality. Commercial fruit and nut enterprises supply the fruits and nuts for the supermarkets nationwide.


After completing this chapter, you should be able to:

* Identify the benefits of fruit or nut production as a personal enterprise

* Name fruit and nut crops

* Describe how to plan and prepare a site for fruit or nut production

* Identify how to plant fruit and nut trees

* Describe appropriate cultural practices

* List some procedures for harvesting and storing a fruit or nut crop

* Discuss how to prune and why prune

Key Terms








Fruit and Nut Production Business

Today, the production of fruit and nut crops is more a business than a way of life. Production requires the grower to be a good financial manager, as well as a scientist and farmer. The person who is a fruit grower or fruit scientists is called a pomologist. People who work in the industry must be able to propagate fruit and nut trees, as well as plant and transplant, prune, thin, train, and fertilize them.

The production, harvest, and marketing of fruits and nuts is a large industry. The United States accounts for a sizable portion of the combined world crops of apples, pears, peaches, plums, prunes, oranges, grapefruits, limes, lemons, and other citrus fruits. Table 18-1 lists the production of tree fruits and nuts in the United States. Also, Figure 18-1 shows citrus production in the United States for the most recent 10 years.


Types of Fruits and Nuts

The tree fruits and nuts include many types and varieties. Temperate fruit trees and their common and scientific names are listed in Table 18-2. Subtropical and tropical fruit trees are listed in Table 18-3.

Besides their family and scientific name, fruit trees can be identified as drupe or pome. A drupe is a fruit with a large hard seed called a stone. Pome fruits have a core and embedded seeds.

Fruit trees can also be grouped according to their growth habit--standard, semi-dwarf, and dwarf. A standard tree has its original rootstock and grows to normal size (Figure 18-2). For example, a standard apple tree can grow to be 30 feet high. Semi-dwarf and dwarf trees are standard varieties of trees grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks. These rootstocks cause the tree to produce less annual growth, and the size of the tree produced is called a dwarf or semi-dwarf (Figure 18-2). Semi-dwarf trees reach about 10 to 15 feet in height while dwarf trees only reach 4 to 10 feet.


Table 18-4 identifies the common nut trees, and Table 18-1 indicates the average production of some of these nuts in the United States.

Selecting Fruit or Nut Trees

Besides being grown commercially, fruit and nut trees may be grown in home gardens or as a part of a landscaping plan. Growers need to consider the climate, rootstock selection, frost susceptibility, fertility, pollination, and growth patterns and fruiting dates.


Some fruit and nut trees are more suited for one type of climate than another. For example, the citrus fruits grow only in the tropical and subtropical climates such as Florida, Texas, and California (Table 18-3). Growers should seek advice on fruit and nut trees that will grow in their areas.


Rootstock selection is important since many of the fruit and nut trees are propagated by grafting. Disease-free, hardy rootstock should be sought for fruit and nut trees. Nurseries will provide this information about their trees.

Frost Susceptibility

Locations for fruit and nut trees should be protected from frost. If an area is susceptible to late frosts, growers should select late blooming varieties. Planting trees on hillsides, near ponds, or near cities will help prevent frost damage. Commercial growers use irrigation sprinklers, heaters, and fans to help reduce frost damage.


Producing high-quality fruits and nuts depends on the fertility of the soil. Generally, a pH of 5.5 to 6.0 is required. Fruit crops need to be fertilized annually, but too much fertilizer can damage the roots and create other problems. Depending on the type of fruit or nut tree grown, growers should seek expert advice for their location.


Most fruit crops require pollination. It is necessary for the fruit to set or form. Depending on the type of fruit or nut tree grown, the pollination requirements can vary. Sometimes trees need to have several varieties that bloom at the same time for adequate cross-pollination. Other trees require a tree just for its pollen. Table 18-5 indicates some of the fruit and nut trees that need a pollinizer. Bees also help with pollination.

Growth Patterns and Fruiting Dates

As Tables 18-6 and 18-7 indicate, growing fruit or nut trees is a longterm commitment. Some trees can take anywhere from 2 to 12 years to bear sufficient fruit or nuts, but they will continue to bear for years.

Most fruit trees go through a vegetative and productive period of growth. During the vegetative period, the tree grows vigorously and rapidly. In some trees, this may be 4 to 5 feet in a single season. When the tree enters the productive period, growth slows and the fruit buds become larger and plumper (see Figure 18-3).


Besides growth patterns, different varieties of the same fruit mature at different times of the year. Selection should be based on this and the variety that will satisfy market demands (refer back to Table 18-5).

Site and Soil Preparation

The site should allow for maximum exposure to the sunlight, since most trees require full sunlight for maximum production. Land with a slight slope and good air circulation helps prevent frost damage. Soil at the site needs to be well drained and of medium texture. Before planting, the soil should be sampled and tested for fertilizer requirements and pH. Also, the soil needs to be deeply plowed so the root systems can penetrate into the soil.


Trees from nurseries can be planted in the spring or the fall. Both seasons have their advantages. Each type of fruit or nut tree will have its own planting distance. Refer back to Table 18-6 for the suggested space per tree needed for some of the common fruits and nuts.

Growers need to follow the guidelines for the actual planting. Each fruit or nut tree will have its own specifications. In general, the hole should be dug to be 1 1/2 to 2 feet wide and about 1 1/2 feet deep. The trees are planted so that the uppermost root is no more than 2 inches below the ground level. With dwarf trees, the graft union should be 2 to 3 inches above ground level. The roots need to be spread out in the hole and dead parts trimmed. Newly planted trees are lost because of the following:

* Roots suffocate by too deep planting

* Water standing in the hole

* Late planting leading to top growing before the roots

* Drought from lack of irrigation or weed competition

* Fertilizer placed in the hole

Mulching newly planted trees with several inches of sawdust, bark, gravel, or plastic will help establishment and early growth. Fertilizers and herbicides should not be applied the first year. Pruning the top immediately after planting to restore the normal ratio of roots to top will help trees become established.

Cultural Practices

For successful production, trees need fertilizer, irrigation, pruning, and disease and pest control.


After the first season, some trees will need nitrogen (N) to hasten growth. Fertilizer should be scattered under the branches, away from the trunk, after leaf fall and before bloom. Peach and filbert trees require more fertilizer than other fruits and nuts. Trees in grass sod will require much more N than where the ground is clean cultivated.


Depending on the type of tree and the location, trees will need irrigation, even in wet climates. How the trees are irrigated will depend on the area. Some trees may be flood irrigated and others drip or sprinkler irrigated.


Pruning and training of young trees establishes a strong framework of branches that will support fruit. Each tree type has a specific way that it should be pruned. For example, peach trees are pruned for an open center and V-shaped pattern, as shown in Figure 18-4. Apple trees are pruned into a Christmas-tree scaffold, as shown in Figure 18-5.



Disease and Pest Control

Control of diseases and pests is major concern of fruit and nut growers. Since the crops are so diverse, so are the control measures. Refer back to Table 18-5 for a list of some of the pests that need to be controlled in some fruits and nuts. Proper pesticides must be selected and used correctly for the fruit or nut tree being sprayed. Timely and thorough spraying is required to control diseases and insects. Some growers will spray only if excessive damage appears imminent, and insect predators can help keep populations under control.

Half of the world's population lives in cities. By 2015 about 26
cities in the world are expected to have a population of 10 million
or more. To feed a city of this size--at least 6000 tons of food
must be imported each day. Recognizing these facts and the
importance of food, an urban agriculture movement is gaining

Simply, urban Agriculture is the practice of
cultivating, processing and distributing food in, or around a town
or city thereby contributing to food security and food safety for
those living in the town or city. Since urban agriculture promotes
energy-saving, local food production, it is considered a
"sustainable practice." Credible agencies recognize the urban
agriculture movement.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations (FAO; http:// defines urban agriculture
as an industry "that produces, processes and markets food and fuel,
in response to the daily demand of consumers within a town, city,
or metropolis, on land and water dispersed throughout the urban
area, applying intensive production methods, using and reusing
natural resources and urban wastes to yield a diversity of crops
and livestock." (Smit, J., A. Ratta, and J. Nasr, 1996, Urban
Agriculture: Food, Jobs, and Sustainable Cities. United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), New York, NY)

The Council on Agriculture, Science and Technology, (CAST; http://
ww.castscience. org/) describes urban agriculture as "a complex system
encompassing a spectrum of interests, from a traditional core of
activities associated with the production, processing, marketing,
distribution, and consumption, to a multiplicity of other benefits
and services that are less widely acknowledged and documented.
These include recreation and leisure; economic vitality and
business entrepreneurship, individual health and well-being;
community health and well being; landscape beautification; and
environmental restoration and remediation." (Butler, L. and D.M.
Moronek (eds.) 2002. Urban and Agriculture Communities:
Opportunities for Common Ground. Council for Agricultural Science
and Technology (CAST). Ames, IA)

With new thinking and new designs for productive urban farms, the idea
of locating agriculture in the city takes on many characteristics and
offers some exciting opportunities for the future.

Harvesting and Storage

Apples are mature when they easily separate from the tree when twisted upward and when they taste good. They should be picked before the core gets areas with a glassy appearance (water core).

Sweet cherries, apricots, figs, plums, prunes, and peaches taste ripe when ready for picking. Ripening will continue after harvest. For canning or drying, they should be left on the tree until completely ripe. Sour cherries are ripe when they come off the tree easily without the stems.

European pears should be picked when still green but when they easily separate from the tree. Most varieties other than the Bartlett require a month or more of cold storage before they will ripen properly. Oriental pears can be picked when they are sweet and juicy.

Figs are ripe when they are very soft and droop on their stems. Persimmons ripen late in the fall when they become soft and lose astringency.

Nuts fall to the ground when they are mature. They can be gathered after falling to the ground or they may be shaken to the ground or into a harvester. Nuts are dried for storage, and dried nuts can be frozen.

Fruit needs to be stored cool (near 32[degrees]F) but not frozen. A good storage room is insulated against heat and freezing. Humidity in the storage room should be moderate.

National Grower/Horticultural Organizations

The following organizations address growers' concerns nationwide through dialogue, annual meetings, and publications.

* American Pomological Society. 103 Tyson Building., University Park, PA 16802.

* American Society for Horticultural Science. 701 N. St. Asaph Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-1998.

* International Apple Institute. P.O. Box 1137, McLean, VA 22101, (703) 442-8850.

* International Dwarf Fruit Tree Association. 14 S. Main Street, Middleburg, PA 17842.


1. Fruit and nut trees are grown on a commercial scale or by home gardeners.

2. Trees are adapted to a variety of climatic conditions, but all trees are susceptible to frost damage.

3. Trees can be standard size, semi-dwarf, or dwarf.

4. Fruit and nut trees can be found for temperate climates and subtropical or tropical climates.

5. Depending on the type of tree selected, a variety of cultural practices are necessary.

6. Proper site selection, soil type, and fertility need to be considered when planting trees.

7. Many trees require pruning.

8. Trees pollinate by wind or insects, and some growers bring in bees to increase pollination.

9. Harvest and storage depend on the crop. With proper storage conditions, the fruit or nut can be kept fresh longer.

Something to Think About

1. What type of sunlight requirements do most fruits require?

2. How deep should the hole be to plant a fruit tree from a nursery?

3. Name five fruit trees and five nut trees.

4. List four drupe fruits.

5. Identify two temperate fruit trees and two subtropical fruit trees.

6. Describe the storage of apples.

7. Why are fruit trees pruned?

8. Compare the advantages of planting in the spring to planting in the fall.

9. How are fruits and nuts harvested?

10. Compare standard, semi-dwarf, and dwarf trees.

Suggested Readings

Barritt, B. H. 1991. Intensive orchard management. Yakima, WA: Good Fruit Grower.

Childers, N. F., and W. B. Sherman, Eds. 1988. The peach: World cultivars to marketing. Gainesville, FL: Horticultural Publications.

Galletta, G. J., and D. G. Himelrick. 1990. Small fruit crop management. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Janick, J., R. W. Schery, F. W. Woods, and V. W. Ruttan. 1974. Plant science. An introduction to world crops (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: W. H. Freeman and Company.

Litz, R. E. 2005. Biotechnology of fruit and nut crops. Cambridge, MA. CABI Publishing.

McMahon, M., A. M. Kofranek, and V. E. Rubatzky. 2006. Hartmann's Plant science, 4th Ed., Growth, Development, and Utilization of Cultivated Plants. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Career & Technology.

Rom, R. C., and R. F. Carlson. 1987. Rootstocks for fruit crops. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Westwood, M. N. 1993. Temperate-zone pomology: Physiology and culture 3rd Ed. Timber Press, Inc.


Internet sites represent a vast resource of information. The URLs for Web sites can change. Using one of the search engines on the Internet, such as Google, Yahoo!,, and MSN Live Search, find more information by searching for these words or phrases: fruit production, fruits and nuts, nut production, fruit pests, fruit diseases, apples, apricots, cherries, figs, olives, pears, peaches, plums, prunes, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, and orchards.
Table 18-1
Noncitrus Fruit and Nut

Crop                (1,000 ton) (1)

Apples                   5,420
Apricots                    98
Cherries                   336
Figs                        50
Nectarines                 220
Olives                     109
Peaches                  1,148
Pears                      924
Plums & Prunes             853

           Tree Nuts

Almonds                    436
Hazelnuts                   26
Pecans                     116
Walnuts                    224

(1) Production of three recent years.
Courtesy of National Agricultural Statistics
Service, USDA.

Table 18-2
Temperate Fruit Trees

Group                      Common name      Scientific name

Pome fruits               Apple            Malus domestica
                          Pear             Pyrus communis
Drupe or stone fruits     Peach            Prunus persica
                          Nectarine        Prunus persica
                          Plum             Prunus spp.
                          Cherry           Prunus spp.
                          Apricot          Prunus armeniaca

Table 18-3
Subtropical and Tropical Fruit Trees

Group (family)    Common name     Scientific name

Citrus            Orange          Citrus sinensis
                  Grapefruit      Citrus paradisi
                  Lemon           Citrus limon
                  Tangerine       Citrus reticulata
                  Limes           Citrus aurantifolia
                  Tangelos        C. reticulata x C. paradisi
Lauraceae         Avocado         Persea americana
Oleacea           Olive           Olea europaea
Palmae            Date            Phoenix dactylifera
Moraceae          Fig             Ficus carica
Musaceae          Banana          Musa spp.
Caricaceae        Papaya          Carica papaya
Anacardiaceae     Mango           Mangifera indica

Table 18-4
Nut Trees

Family             Common name         Scientific name

Rosaceae         Almond              Prunus amygdalus

Juglandaceae     English Walnut      Juglans regia
                 Pecan               Carya illinoensis

Betulaceae       Filbert             Corylus avellana

Proteaceae       Macadamia           Macadamia ternifolia

Table 18-5
Fruit and Nut Tree Production Guidelines

                      Space per
                        trees        Pollinizer     Approx. years
Crop                   (ft) (1)     tree needed     to bearing

Apples                   5-40      Sometimes             2-10
Apricots                15-25      No                    6-7
Butternut               30-40      Yes                   3-5
Cherries, sour          14-20      No                    3-5
Cherries, sweet         20-35      Yes                   6-7
Chestnut                20-40      Yes                   5-7
Figs                    12-20      No                    5-6
Filberts                15-20      Yes                   5-6
Hickory                 20-40      Yes                  10-14
Papaw                   15-20      Yes                  10-14
Peaches, nectarines     12-15      No                    4-5

Pears                   10-20      Yes                   5-7
Persimmons              15-20      Yes                   8-10
Plums/Prunes            10-20      Some varieties        3-5
Walnuts, black          30-40      No                   10-12
Walnuts, English        40-50      No                   10-12

                              Sprays usually
Crop                       required to control

Apples                Codling moth, (2) scab
Apricots              Brown-rot bacterial canker
Butternut             None
Cherries, sour        Fruit fly (2)
Cherries, sweet       Fruit fly, (2) bacterial canker
Chestnut              None
Figs                  None
Filberts              Filbert moth, (2) bacterial blight
Hickory               None
Papaw                 None
Peaches, nectarines   Leaf curl, borers, coryneum
                        blight, brown rot
Pears                 Fire blight, scab, codling moth (2)
Persimmons            None
Plums/Prunes          Crown borers, brown rot
Walnuts, black        Husk rot (2)
Walnuts, English      Husk fly, (2) blight

(1) The vigor of the variety and the rootstock, and the
amount of pruning, also determine space requirements.

(2) Insect, if uncontrolled, causes wormy fruit or nuts.

Courtesy of Oregon State University Extension.

Table 18-6
Starting and Bearing Time for Fruit Trees

Tree              Years to start    Years bear

Apple                  3-10           50-100
Apricot                3-4            10-25
Cherry, sour           3-4            15-25
Cherry, sweet          4-5            25-75
Peach                  2-3             5-15
Pear                   3-5            25-75
Plum                   3-4            10-20
Quince                 3-4            10-20

Table 18-7
Some Fruit and Nut Varieties and Approximate Time of Maturity

                      Approx time of
Variety                  maturity                 Comments


Lodi                 July 15-30         Yellow, won't keep
Earlygold            Aug. 1-15          Yellow, crisp
Stark Summer Treat   Aug. 1-15          Red, good flavor
Summer Red           Aug. 1-15          Red, good flavor
Gravenstein          Aug. 15-30         Pollinated by Lodi, not
                                          hardy, best sauce apple
Jonamac              Sept. 1-10         Red, McIntosh-like
Elstar               Sept. 10-20        Tart, good flavor, cool
Gala                 Sept. 15-25        Sweet, good flavor,
Jonagold             Sept. 15-30        Big, good flavor, cool
                                          climate, need pollinizer
Spartan              Sept. 20-30        Red, productive
Delicious            Sept. 25-Oct. 5    Standard red, scabs badly
Golden Delicious     Oct. 1-10          Yellow, flavorful, very
Empire               Sept. 20-30        Small, red flavorful
Braeburn             Oct. 5-15          Flavorful, stores well,
Fuji                 Oct. 10-25         Sweet, flavorful, stores well
Granny Smith         Oct. 15-30         Tart, stores well
Newtown Pippin       Oct. 10-20         Green, tree vigorous, slow
                                          to produce

              Apples, scab-resistant varieties

Redfree              Aug. 5-15          Small, red, mild
Chehalis             Aug. 15-25         Yellow, big, long picking
Prima                Sept. 1-10         Big, red, pits
Nova Easygro         Sept. 10-20        Good flavor
Liberty              Sept. 20-30        Best flavor, red
Jonafree             Sept. 25-Oct. 5    Medium, good flavor


Puget Gold           July               --
Rival                July               Mild flavor
Royal (Blenheim)     July               Self-fruitful
Moongold             July               Cold-hardy, pollinized by
Sungold              July               Pollinized by Moongold, hardy
Chinese              July               Resist frost

                 Cherries, sour varieties

Montmorency          July               Michigan strain best
North Star           July               Dwarf variety

                Cherries, sweet varieties

Royal Ann            Mid                White, pollinized by Corum
Bing                 Mid                Black, pollinized by Van,
Lambert              Late               Black, pollinized by Van,
Van                  Early              Black, pollinized by Bing,
Sam                  Mid                Black, pollinized by Lambert
Bada                 Mid                White, pollinized by Royal
                                          Ann, Bing, Lambert,
Stella               Mid                Self-fruitful, black
Compact Stella       Mid                Smaller than Stella


Revival              Sept.              Pollinized by Carolina
Carolina             Sept.              Pollinized by Revival
Layeroka             Sept.              Reliable producer
Chinese seedling     Sept.              Pollinizer for Layeroka


Brown Turkey         Aug.               Large, brown
Desert King          Aug.               Green, large, sweet
Lattarula            Aug.               Green, golden inside

             Filberts (some regions too cold)

Barcelona            Oct.               Standard variety, pollinized
                                          by Davianna
Davianna             Oct.               Light producer, pollinized
                                          by Barcelona

               Nectarines (fuzzless peaches)

Stark Red Gold       Aug.               Southern and northeastern
                                          Oregon only
Harko                Aug.               Better fruit set
Genetic dwarfs       Aug.               Grown in pots, take inside
                                          for winter


Veteran              Aug. 20-25         Regular bearer
Red Haven            Aug. 5-10          Most popular, clingstone
                                          until fully ripe
July Elberta         Aug. 1-20          Old favorite
Early Elberta        Aug. 24-28         Old favorite
Rochester            Aug. 24-30         Old favorite
Reliance             Aug. 5-10          Resistant to cold
Frost                Aug.               Resists leaf curl
Genetic dwarfs       Summer             Very small trees, grow in
                                          pots, indoors in winter

                Pears, European varieties

Bartlett             Aug. 15-30         Pollinized by Anjou, Fall
Anjou                Sept. 5-20         Pollinized by Bartlett, needs
                                          45-60 days of cold storage
                                          before ripening
Bosc                 Sept. 10-30        Pollinized by Comice
Cascade              Sept. 10-30        Pollinized by Bosc, needs
                                          45-60 days of cold storage
                                        before ripening
Seckel               Aug. 30-Sept. 10   Pollinized by Anjou, Bosc,

                  Pears, red varieties

Red Bartlett         Aug. 15-30         Pollinized by Anjou, Fall
Reimer Red           Sept.              Pollinized by Bartlett
Red Anjou            Sept.              Pollinized by Bartlett
Starkrimson          Aug. 1-15          Pollinized by Bartlett

                Pears, Oriental varieties

Chojuro              Sept.              Pollinized by Nijisseiki,
Nijisseiki           Sept.              Pollinized by Chojuro,
  (20th Century)                          Shinseiki
Shinseiki            Aug.               Pollinized by Nijisseiki,
Kikusui              Aug.               Pollinized by Chojuro,

Fuyu                 Nov.               Seedless Japanese
Garrettson           Nov.               American, small
Early Golden         Nov.               American, small

                Plums, cold-resistant varieties

Mount Royal          Sept.              Self-fruitful
Superior             Sept.              Pollinized by Pipestone
Ember                Oct.               Pollinized by Superior

     Plums, European varieties (prunes when dehydrated)

Italian              Sept. 10-30        Tart, "purple plum"
Brooks               Sept. 20-30        Bears regularly, large
Parsons              Sept. 1-15         Pollinized by Stanley, sweet
President Plum       Sept. 20-30        Pollinized by Stanley
Moyer Perfecto       Oct. 1             Best dried, sweet
Stanley              Sept. 1-15         Bears but brown rots

             Plums, Oriental varieties

Early Golden         July               Apricot-like flavor
Red Heart            Sept.              Pollinized by Shiro
Shiro                Aug.               Pollinized by Red Heart
Burbank              Aug.               Pollinized by Elephant Heart

             Walnuts, black varieties

Thomas               Oct.               Seedlings inferior
Ohio                 Oct.               --
Myers                Oct.               --

              Walnuts, English varieties

Franquette           Late Oct.          Standard variety, limited
Spurgeon             Late Oct.          Late bloomer, hardy
Chambers #9          Late Oct.          Heavy producer, moderately

Courtesy of Oregon State University Extension Service.
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Title Annotation:PART 5: Plants and Society
Publication:Fundamentals of Plant Science
Date:Jan 1, 2009
Previous Article:Chapter 17: Small fruits.
Next Article:Chapter 19: Flowers and foliage.

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