At the nursery, people often ask, “What fruit trees should I get?” And I usually respond with, “What do you like to eat?” If you are going to invest time and money into something, it should be something you enjoy. For preserving the question changes slightly to, “What do you really like to eat?” This is where you start your selection process.
How Much Should I Grow?
Let’s say your answer to the first question is, “I really like peaches.” A dwarf peach tree can produce between 45-135 pounds of fruit. A standard tree can produce 135-270 pounds of fruit. In 2019, the average American ate 153 pounds of fresh fruit per year. So if you want all your of your fruit to consist of peaches, you can probably get by with 1 peach tree. If you want to share with your family or friends, you would need more. If you want to divide that up among other fruits, one healthy tree could provide you with all you need.
Amounts of Fruit Produced
Here is a list of what various fruits can produce
- Apple a dwarf apple produces 40-160 pounds, a standard produces 400-800 pounds
- Peaches & Nectarines a dwarf peach produces 45-135, a standard produces 135-270 pounds
- Pears a dwarf pear produces about 50-150 pounds, a standard produces 150-300 pounds
- Cherries a standard tree can produce 150 pounds of fruit.
You will probably note that there is quite a range in pounds produced. Age, care, pruning all make a difference. Basically if you plant one tree per person, at the tree’s maturity you will have enough fruit for a year for your family.
Staggering the Harvest
Starting with the first good crop of beans and ending with pears and apples, canning season can start as early as May and go all the way into October. You can make this a bit more manageable by selecting trees that ripen at different times. Take apricots for example, Autumn Glo ripens between August 7th and September 1st whereas Blenheim ripens earlier, between June 25th and July 5th. By carefully looking at the ripening dates of your trees, you can stagger and extend your period of harvest. This gives you time to enjoy fresh fruit longer and spread out the weekends you will need to spend canning your harvest at its peak. You can find ripening dates for a variety of fruit trees on Dave Wilson Nursery’s website.
Selecting the Best Canning Variety
Some fruits are better for eating fresh off the tree and some are more flavorful than others when canned. I have never found a variety suitable for canning that I didn’t enjoy fresh so I always select those that are listed as suitable for baking and canning.
- For apples, Fuji, Braeburn, Jonagold, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, Jazz, Honeycrisp, and Cortland.
- For apricots check out August Glo, Blenheim, Autumn Royal, Earligold, Gold Kist and Goldcot.
- The best sweet cherry for preserving is Bing as the pits are easy to remove, the best sour cherry is Montmorency which is self-fruitful and great for pies and cobblers.
- For peaches, look for freestone varieties to make preparation easier. O’Henry and Elberta are top rated for canning.
- In Nectarines most varieties are suitable, but freestone varieties make your work easier. Double Delight is a favorite variety.