Selecting Fruit Tree Varieties for Central Oregon Landscaping and Home Orchards

Amy Jo Detweiler
EC 1622 | May 2008 |

Are you interested in growing fruit trees in your landscape? There are several kinds of fruit trees that can be grown successfully in Central Oregon—the challenge lies in selecting varieties that are most likely to bear fruit in this region.

A typical growing season in Central Oregon ranges from 70 to 100 days, depending on where you live (see Central Oregon Climate and How it Relates to Gardening, page 4 in "For more information.") Frost can occur at any time of the year, including when fruit trees are flowering or setting fruit—with possible damage to fruit. Although a tree may grow well, fruit production may vary each growing season. At lower elevation, the milder climate generally increases the chance of producing a successful fruit crop.

Fruit tree varieties

The apple tree is the most reliable fruiting tree in Central Oregon, followed by hardy Asian pear, European pear, plum, and sour cherry. You can also try peach, apricot, sweet cherry, hardy kiwi, and some kinds of nuts, but these trees may not bear consistently.

Tips for successful fruit production

The following may increase your chance of fruit production.

  • Select cold-hardy, short-season varieties.
  • Choose a site with full sun and well-drained soil, as most fruit trees prefer this type of environment. Western or southern exposures may cause trees to bloom earlier, increasing the chance for frost damage.
  • Select high spots with good air flow to prevent frost damage.
  • Consider pollination requirements of plants before purchasing.
  • To prevent killing bees or other pollinators, do not spray insecticides during bloom.
  • Select dwarfing rootstock and semidwarf trees because they produce apples sooner than their standard counterpart. They also take up less space in the landscape and are easier to maintain due to their smaller size.
  • Protect plants from the elements in mid- to late-spring and early summer; use frost cloth to protect blossoms and young fruit after blossom drop.
  • Manage your fruit trees to minimize insect and disease problems. This will help maintain plant health and is critical to prevent the spread of disease to commercial fruit growers in your area.

Pome fruits

Apples

Semidwarf and dwarf apple tree varieties produce fruit in 2 to 3 years. Semidwarf varieties usually are 12 to 15 feet tall. Cross-pollination is recommended for all apple varieties to produce fruit. Crabapples planted within a quarter mile of your apple tree may serve as a pollinizer if bloom times align.

apple

Table 1. Apple varieties for Central Oregon

Variety Harvest time Pollinizer Characteristics Common uses Size
Gala Fall Cortland, Honeycrisp, Liberty Red-yellow; good flavor, sweet; heat-tolerant Eating Semidwarf
Haralred Late fall Yellow Delicious Red; firm, juicy, tart All-purpose Semidwarf
Honeycrisp Fall Red Baron, McIntosh Pale red; sweet, very crisp, juicy Eating, cooking Dwarf (6-8 ft tall and wide)
Liberty Fall Freedom, Golden Delicious, McIntosh Red; great flavor, crunchy, mildly tart; resistant to rust, scab, and fireblight Eating, juice, sauce Semidwarf
Lodi Summer Yellow transparent, Crabapple varieties Yellow; tart, juicy; very early Pie, sauces Semidwarf
McIntosh, Red Late fall Cortland, Yellow Delicious, Jonathan, Red Baron Bright red, white flesh; tart; heavy bearer Eating, cooking, cider Semidwarf

Asian pear

Asian pears often are referred to as :apple pears" because of their crisp, juicy texture. Asian pear trees are considered partially self-fruitful. However, in cold climate areas such as Central Oregon, cross-pollination with another Asian or European pear variety is recommended for improved crop set. Asian pears are ripened on the tree.

pear

Table 2. Asian pear varieties for Central Oregon

Variety Harvest time Characteristics
Atago Late fall Sweet, juicy
Kosui Late summer Best tasting
Seuri Late fall Brown skin; crisp, sweet, aromatic
Shinseiki Late summer Yellow skin, white flesh
Shinsui Late summer Orange; very sweet; reliable
Yoinashi Fall Brown skin; crisp with butterscotch flavor

European pear

European pear trees generally require cross-pollination to set a good crop. The varieties listed here are usually suitable as pollinizers for each other, with the exception fo Bartlett (which may bloom too early to effectively pollinize others). European pears are ripened off the tree—they may require a period of cold storage to ripen to best eating quality.

Table

Table 3. European pear varieties for Central Oregon

Variety Harvest time Characteristics Common uses
Bartlett Late summer Sweet, juicy; pick when fruit is green - it will change to yellow when ripe Eating, canning, baking, drying
Bosc (russeted or standard) Fall Standard types; green skin with some russeting. Russeted types; golden skin. Sweet, juicy; long neck Eating, baking, drying
Conference Late fall Green skin can become russeted depending on the weather after bloom; juicy, sweet Eating, storage
Rescue Fall Reddish-orange; sweet, smooth, juicy Eating, canning, drying
Orcas Fall Large, yellow; juicy, flavorful Eating, canning, drying

Stone fruits

Apricots

Apricot trees bloom early in the spring, and their blossoms or young fruit often are damaged by frost. Fruit set in Central Oregon is not reliable.

Sour cherries

Most sour cherries are used for baking in pastries and pies. All of the varieties listed in Table 4 are self-fertile and do not require cross-pollination. Sour cherry trees are more cold-hardy than sweet cherry trees in Central Oregon.

Sweet cherries

All fo the sweet cherry varieties listed in Table 4 are self-fertile and do not require cross-pollination.

Peaches and nectarines

Peaches and nectarine are two of the fruit trees least likely to bear fruit in Central Oregon. Their early spring blooms (nectarines bloom even earlier than peaches) are very susceptible to frost damage. Although the trees may grow well, fruit set is unreliable. Peach trees require heavy fertilization, pruning, and a site with good air movement. Plant peach trees in a protected area.

Plums

Plums are among the more hardy fruit trees in Central Oregon. All of the varieties in Table 4 are European - type plums and are most reliable than Japanese-type piums in a cold climate.

Table 4. Stone fruit varieties for Central Oregon

Fruit Recommended varieties for Central Oregon
Apricots Self-fertile: Chinese Sweet Pit; Cross-pollination required: Moongold (by either Sungold or Scout), Sungold (by Moongold)
Cherries Sour (all self-fertile): Danube, Montmorency, Northstar, Surefire; Sweet (all self-fertile): Benton, Index, Lapins, Stella, Sweetheart
Nectarines None recommended
Peaches Self-pollinated: Reliance
Plums/ Prunes Self-fertile: Green Gage (Yellow-green), Italian Prune (blue), Mt. Royal (blue), Stanley (blue)

For more information

OSU Extension publications

For more detailed information on selection and cultivation of the fruits listed in this publication, visit the OSU Extension Catalog.

Other resources

Fruit tree suppliers

Inclusion of suppliers on this list does not mean that the Oregon State University Extension Service either endorses these companies or intends to discriminate against companies not mentioned.

Nursery directories

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