Brochures

Trees & Shrubs

Prairie Hardy Fruit Trees

Growing fruit trees on the prairies was very challenging when the prairies were first being settled.  However, there has been a lot of breeding work done since then to develop prairie hardy fruit trees.  With these introductions comes a larger variety of fruit trees with the hardiness to survive our sometimes harsh climate.

Site Selection and Care

  1. Choose a sunny open area - full sun to part shade; ensure the tree has good air circulation
  2. Amend soil to improve its tilth - work in organic matter to loosen up soil and add nutrients. Fruit trees prefer a moist, fertile, well-drained soil
  3. Avoid very exposed windy areas, low spots (frost pockets) and wet soils
  4. When planting near large established trees, plants may have reduced vigour and fruit yield because of root competition and shade
  5. Water newly transplanted trees thoroughly and frequently until they are established.  Make sure to water during periods of drought, in the spring as well as the fall

Pollination

For fruit production to take place the flowers must be fertilized by pollen (pollinated). There are three different types of pollination:

  1. Cross-pollination
  2. Partially self-fertile
  3. Self-fertile
Cross Pollination

two plants are required to set fruit.  Ensure that compatible plants have overlapping blooming periods ensure pollination will take place.

Partially Self-fertile

one plant sets minimal fruit on its own; requires a compatible plant to get a good yield  

Self-fertile

one plant is capable of fertilizing its own flowers and setting fruit

Thinning

Thinning is the removal of some young fruit from a tree.  This helps to ensure harvested fruit are larger and have better colour. Thinning also reduces the stress on the tree caused by overproduction of fruit.  When thinning, try to keep fruit evenly distributed over the tree to prevent heavy loads from breaking branches. The best time for thinning is after the natural fall in early June, when fruit is approximately 2.5cm in diameter.

Harvesting

Apples / Crabapples

check frequently during the period when apples are known to ripen in your area.  Watch for colour change and fruit dropping.  The best way to determine readiness is to slice a couple apples and check for greenness in the flesh and taste. Pick apples a week before they are fully ripe for storage.

Pears

harvest pears when the flesh is firm and store at room temperature until fully ripe and soft.

Plums

harvest when they have a waxy bloom and the flesh is slightly soft when pressed.

Apricots

harvest when fruit begins to soften and develop its flavor.

Cherries

harvest when fruit is close to optimum colour and sweetness.

Pruning

There are a few different reasons to prune trees.  The most basic and important kind of pruning is the removal of dead, dying, and diseased wood.  This can be done at any time throughout the year. Pruning is also done to shape which should be done before flowering in the spring.  Shaping of trees should start in the early years to space branches.  Fruit trees need to have an open crown with a strong framework of several branches. This allows for air circulation which helps prevent diseases, while encouraging the admission of light.  Creating a strong framework ensures that the tree can bear a heavy fruit load and resist damage from windstorms and heavy snowfalls.

Always remember to remove suckers and water sprouts annually during the growing season. With fruit trees you will reap the benefits of higher yields if you spend some time pruning and shaping!

Reasons for Poor Yield

  • Immaturity - newly planted trees will require a couple of seasons to establish and start to produce fruit.  It will take several more seasons before you will get top yields
  • Frosts - late spring frosts can kill flower buds or flowers which in turn makes pollination impossible
  • Poor site selection - too much shade or competition with larger trees 
  • Lack of pollinators (bees, insects) or there may not be sufficient overlap of blooming periods for cross-pollination
  • Over-fertilizing - to much Nitrogen results in vigorous, lush green growth with little or no blooms
  • Starvation - plant may not have the necessary nutrients to sustain flowering and fruiting.  All plants require feeding.
  • Pruning - severe pruning of mature trees will result in vigorous new growth the following year, at the expense of flowers and fruit
  • Large Yield - trees can only support a certain number of large, ripe fruit.  If there is a large crop that doesn’t get thinned the fruit will be small and the following years crop will be light
  • Pests and Diseases - cause overall decline in tree health.  Trees are weakened resulting in a poor yield
  • Fruit drop - caused by heavy crop set, starvation, frost damage or over-crowding
  • Biennial Bearing - tree produces heavy crop one year and minimal crop the following year.  Make sure tree is getting ample water, fertilizer and thin out apples

 Name

Height

Spread

Pollination

Harvest

Fruit & Features

APPLE - Battleford

16-20'

5-6m

13-16'

4-5m

another apple, crabapple or ornamental flowering crabapple

 mid September

6-7.5cm, yellowish-green apple with a dull red blush.  Good eating, cooking and fair storage

APPLE - Combination

16-20'

5-6m

16-20'

5-6m

tree with at least 3 varieties on one plant August - September varies depending on varieties grafted on the tree

APPLE - Dexter

10'

3m

5'

1.5m

another apple, crabapple or ornamental flowering crabapple late August - early September 7-8cm, amber apples streaked re.  Great for fresh eating, cooking, and storage

APPLE - Fall Red

16'

5m

13-16'

4-5m

another apple, crabapple or ornamental flowering crabapple mid to late September 7-8cm dull red apples with crisp white flesh.  Good eating, cooking, and storage

APPLE - Goodland

16-20'

5-6m

13-16'

4-5m

another apple, crabapple or ornamental flowering crabapple mid September 6-8cm red blush over creamy green apples.  Excellent eating, cooking, and storage

APPLE - Haralson

16'

5m

13'

4m

another apple, crabapple or ornamental flowering crabapple late September 6-7.5cm red apples, very productive alternating years.  Good for eating, and cooking, fair for storage

APPLE - Harcourt

16-20'

5-6m

13-16'

4-5m

another apple, crabapple or ornamental flowering crabapple mid September 6-7cm bright red apples with a mild flavor.  Excellent eating, cooking, and storage

APPLE - Hardi-Mac

16'

5m

13'

4m

another apple, crabapple or ornamental flowering crabapple mid September 6-7cm bright red fruit with crispy, juicy white flesh.  Good eating and cooking, fair storage

APPLE- Honeycrisp

10-16'

3-5m

10-16'

3-5m

another apple, crabapple or ornamental flowering crabapple late September 7-8cm bright red apples with sweet, crisp juicy flavor.  Excellent for cooking, eating, and storage

APPLE - Norkent

16'

5m

13-16'

4-5m

another apple, crabapple or ornamental flowering crabapple late August - early September 7cm green apples with red stripes, crisp sweet flavor.  Excellent for cooking, eating, and storage

APPLE - Norland

16'

5m

16'

5m

another apple, crabapple or ornamental flowering crabapple late August 6-7cm green apple with red stripes, crisp and sweet.  Good for eating fresh, cooking, and storage

APPLE - Odyssey

20-25'

6-8m

12-15'

4-5m

another apple, crabapple or ornamental flowering crabapple mid to late August 7-8cm green apple streaked with red, crisp sweet flavor similar to Gala.  Excellent for eating and cooking.

APPLE - Parkland

16-20'

5-6m

13-16'

4-5m

another apple, crabapple, or ornamental flowering crabapple mid to late August 6-7cm yellow-green apple with a red blush; tends to be a biennial producer.  Good eating, cooking, and storage

APPLE - September Ruby

16'

5m

13'

4m

another apple, crabapple or ornamental flowering crabapple mid September 6-7cm bright red apples with light green ribbing and a crisp juicy flavor.  Good for fresh eating, cooking, and storage

APPLE - Zestar

16'

5m

13'

4m

another apple, crabapple or ornamental flowering crabapple late August 7.5cm red striped apple with crisp juicy flesh.  Excellent for cooking, eating fresh, and storage

APRICOT - Westcot 

16'

5m

13'

4m

another Apricot variety or a Nanking Cherry mid to late August 3.5-4.5cm golden yellow red blushed fruit.  Excellent for eating fresh, canning, and jams

CHERRY - Carmine Jewel

7-10'

2-3m

8'

2.4m

self-pollinating late July - early August 2-3cm dark almost black cherry with a small pit.  Good for jams, jellies, juice, pies, and wine

CHERRY - Crimson Passion

6-8'

2-2.4m

3-4'

1-1.2m

self-pollinating mid August 3-4cm dark red cherries; highest sugar content.  Excellent for fresh eating and processing

CHERRY - Cupid

6-8'

2-2.4m

4'

1.2m

self-pollinating early September 3-4cm dark red-black cherries; blooms 1 week later than other cherries.  Excellent for fresh eating and processing

CHERRY - Evans

10-13'

3-4m

7-10'

2-3m

self-pollinating late July 2-3cm bright red semi-sweet cherries.  Good for eating fresh, jams, jellies, and pies

CHERRY - Juliet

6-8'

2-2.5m

4'

1.2m

self-pollinating mid August 2-3cm dark red cherries.  Very good for fresh eating and processing

CHERRY - Romeo

6-8'

2-2.5m

4'

1.2m

self-pollinating late August 2-3cm dark red-black cherries.  Very good for fresh eating, processing; best for juice

CHERRY - Valentine

6-8'

2-2.5m

4'

1.2m

self-pollinating early August 2-3cm dark red-black cherries.  Tart pie cherry, good for processing

CHERRY - Nanking

7-10'

2-3m

7-10'

2-3m

self-pollinating; for higher yield cross pollination July-August 1.5cm bright red tart cherries.  Excellent for jellies and preserves

CRABAPPLE - Dolgo

20-30'

6-9m

13-20m

 4-6m   

another crabapple, apple or ornamental flowering crabapple late August to early September 3.5cm bright red crabapples; very hardy variety.  Good for eating, excellent cooking, fair storage

CRABAPPLE - Rescue

16-20'

5-6m

13-16'

4-5m 

another crabapple, apple or ornamental flowering crabapple early to late August 4cm, green-yellow crabapples with red stripes.  Sweet apple good for eating and cooking

PEAR - Early Gold

20'

6m

13-16'

4-5m

self-pollinating; fruit production increases with cross pollination early August 5cm golden-yellow pears.  Excellent eating and cooking

PEAR - Golden Spice

20-23'

6-7m

16'

5m

self-pollinating; fruit production increases with cross-pollination mid to late September 5cm yellow pear with a dull red blush.  Good for jams and canning

PEAR - Ure

26-30'

8-9m

20'

6m

self-pollinating; fruit production increases with cross-pollination mid September 5cm yellowish-green sweet, juicy aromatic pear.  Excellent for eating fresh, deserts, and canning

PLUM - Brookgold

13-16'

4-5m

10-13'

3-4m

Nanking Cherry, Bounty or Dandy Plum mid August 2.5-3cm freestone plum, excellent for eating fresh and canning

PLUM - Brookred

13-16'

4-5m

10-13'

3-4m

Opata or Pembina plum, western sandcherry late August  4-5cm dark red fruit with orange-red flesh; good for flesh eating and preserves

PLUM - Compass

7-10'

2-3m

7-10'

2-3m

self-pollinating; good pollinator for other plums mid August 2.5-3cm dark red-purple plum with sweet, juicy yellow flesh. Good for jams, jellies, and canning and sauces

PLUM - Combination

10-16'

3-5m

10-13'

3-4m

multi-graft tree, no pollination required August A multi-grafted tree with different varieties on the same plant

PLUM - Mount Royal

13'

4m

10'

3m

self-pollinating mid to late August 4-5cm blue skinned plum with yellow flesh.  Good for fresh eating, desserts, jams, and preserves

PLUM - Opata 

10'

3m

10'

3m

Western sandcherry, Brookred or Pembina Plum late August 2-3cm plum with dark wine-red skin, waxy bloom, and green flesh.  Good for fresh eating and preserves

PLUM - Pembina

16'

5m

13'

4m

Western Sandcherry, Brookred or Pembina Plum late August 4-5cm red skinned plum with yellow flesh.  Excellent for fresh eating and desserts