Saturday, April 23, 2016

Recommended Fruit Tree Varieties for Colorado Front Range by Carol King

Photo CSU Extension
Growing fruit trees along the Front Range in Colorado can be challenging but also satisfying.  Late frosts, heavy spring snows, and several pests and diseases make this interesting to say the least!  However, in successful years, the gardener can be blessed with bumper crops of apples, cherries, plums, and often peaches and apricots.

Here are some varieties that are considered among the best for success in Colorado  recommended by J. R. Feucht, former Landscape-Plant Specialist, CSU Extension; and Curtis Utley, Jefferson County CSU Extension.

Apples
The more reliable varieties are:
  • Cox Orange. Aromatic dessert apple. Yellow flesh.
  • Red Delicious. A good winter apple and very resistant to fire blight.
  • Golden Delicious. A fall apple of good flavor that bears sooner than most varieties.  Also a good variety to plant with other apple trees to ensure good pollination.
  • McIntosh.  An all-purpose red apple.
  • Johnathan.  A popular apple but fairly susceptible to fire blight.
  • Fameuse.  Old variety similar to McIntosh.
  • Goldrush, Pristine, Liberty, Empire, Honeycrisp, Arkansas Black, Sweet 16, Hazen, Winecrisp, Pixie Crunch, Sir Prize, Williams Pride, Fireside, and Jonafree are also recommended by Mr Utley.
Cherries
The most dependable cherries for the Front Range are the tart type. Varieties most suitable are:
  • Montmorency.  The most popular variety not only for the home garden but a leader in commercial tart cherry production.
  • Meteor.  Similar to Montmorency, but a slightly more dwarf tree.
  • Van.  A relatively hardy tree bearing sweet fruit.  Excellent pollinizer for all sweet varieties.
  • Early Richmond.  Considered the most hardy, but the quality of fruit is inferior to Montmorency.
  • Black Tartarian.  A sweet cherry that may produce fruit in some years.  Subject to dieback in severe winters.
  • Kansas Sweet.  A sweet, early, dark red variety.
  • Stella.  Shown to have good winter hardiness and is self-pollinating.
Peaches
Peaches are not as dependable as apples, plums or cherries for the Front Range. They flower early and are often are nipped by frost, thus preventing fruit set.  They are rewarding if you can get past the growing difficulties.  Recommended varieties:
  • Elberta.  This is the common commercial peach produced on the Western Slope.  It is a bit more tender in most areas of the East Slope but many occasionally produce a satisfactory crop.
  • Haven. Many named varieties. Freestone.
  • Polly. A white freestone variety that matures in late summer.   Among the hardiest available.
  • Reliance.  Considered hardiest of all. Freestone type.   Others are Halehaven, J.H. Hale and Ranger, Intrepid and Contender.
Plums
Plums are considered among the hardiest tree fruits for the Colorado Front Range, and are relatively dependable as far as fruit set.  Among the selections that can be made, the following are considered best:
  • Stanley.  Italian freestone variety
  • Green Gage.  An old, dependable variety having good flavor.
  • Blue Damson.  An early-bearing, small-fruited plum.  Fruits are of good flavor, bluish with a yellow flesh.
  • Waneta.  A late-summer maturing variety with large, red fruit.
  • Sapalta.  Considered one of the best for eating fresh from the tree; also excellent for canning.
  • Any European plum/prune.
Apricots
Apricots are even less dependable than peaches for growing.  This is not because of hardiness but because their early flowering habit makes them subject to frost.  Try a thick mulch of wood chips after the ground has frozen in fall.  The varieties Goldcot and Moorpark are worthy of trial in Colorado.

Having successful fruit trees starts with proper planting and care.  Here is an extensive Fact Sheet on how to plant a tree properly. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/gardennotes/636.html
This Garden Note will show you how to successfully grow tree fruit in Colorado: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/Gardennotes/771.pdf
Take the time and energy to plant and care for your trees properly. It will pay off in the long run.