Now is the time to think about planting fruit and pecan trees. In January, most all nurseries have an ample supply of quality trees. Plan and act quickly as most of these are bare-root trees that will not last long in the bag.
Besides bare-root trees, nurseries also offer these trees already planted
into containers. It is very important to be sure that varieties are planted
that are best suited, adapted and recommended for the
First I would like to discuss stone fruits, beginning with nectarines. While nectarines are generally not recommended for this area because of disease problems, if you insist on having a tree, the best variety would be Sun Red, which is a small cling stone variety ripening in late April.
Plums do much better in our area. Currently recommended by Victoria County
Extension is Bruce, a large red-skinned, that is excellent for jelly. Two other
recommended varieties are Methley, for fresh eating,
that ripens in early June and the
The most popular stone fruit by far is the peach. In choosing a peach, one
must look at the chilling time or hours required by each variety. Chill time or
chill hours is defined as the number of hours during which the temperature
remains between 32 and 45 degrees F. The following peach varieties (with chill
hour requirements in parentheses) are recommended for
The next fruit for consideration is probably the most popular of all, the "one a day keeps the doctor away" apple. Anna and the Dorsett Golden are the two recommended varieties, but they do best on acid soils planted in open airy sites to minimize diseases. The most important aspect in apple tree selection is to purchase trees grafted on M9 or MM106 rootstock. The MM106 is a semi-dwarf tree while M9 is a dwarf tree requiring a trellis. The Dorsett Golden is a good pollinator for the Anna. In my personal experience with these two varieties, the squirrels harvested more than I did.
Another very popular home garden or yard fruit is the pear. Among the
Oriental hybrid varieties are the
Moving to berry varieties, every home gardener should consider blackberries.
Within the thornless varieties, the Apache is the
best. A second choice would be the Arapaho. Both varieties ripen mid-May to
late June, producing a medium-sized berry. If you don't mind a few thorns, you
can choose from three varieties. The best choice is Kiowa, an extremely large
berry, ripening late May to mid-June. The other two,
A couple of other berries worthy of mention are the raspberry and blueberry. The only raspberry recommended for this area, with very limited success though, is the Dorman Red, a heat tolerant variety. Its fruit quality is usually fair - at best. Blueberries (rabbit-eye varieties) are not recommended for our area because they require an acidic pH. But, if you have a sandy type soil with a low pH and are interested in possibly working with the county extension agent in establishing a blueberry test plot, please give the county agent a call.
The most fun berry of all to raise is the
strawberry. Currently the only two varieties for this area are the
All of us are familiar with the wild mustang grape. With home vineyards or arbors, we have the table grape or the juice/wine grape to choose from. There are currently two table grape varieties recommended for this area, the Orlando Seedless and the Black Monourra. The former is a white French-American hybrid, the latter a red grape. If your talent is wine/juice making, the following are your choices: Black Spanish, Champanel, Favorite, Rouconeuf or Lomanto. These are all red wine varieties except the Reuconeuf, which is a pink.
As a small child, I remember picking and eating fresh figs from my grandparents' trees. What a treat! You, too, can enjoy three different varieties of figs in this area: Celeste, a small fig that ripens in mid-June, and Texas Everbearing and Alma, both medium-sized that ripen in late June to August.
Have you ever bitten into a semi-ripe persimmon? Made you pucker? Currently
The last fruits to talk about are the citrus fruits.
One other citrus deserves mention and that is the Meyer lemon. It does well, but must be protected from cold temperatures. Other citrus like loquat or kumquat are used mostly for landscaping, but are also edible.
Lastly, I will touch on pecan trees for the homeowner. I know many of these
currently recommended are not what we find in yards and gardens in
A favorite pecan of mine is the Prilop, which is a very good producing, medium-sized nut that shells out about 55 to 57 percent kernels per pound of whole nuts. Putting nut production aside, a well cared-for pecan tree also serves as a beautiful shade tree for a yard.
With spring around the corner, consider planting fruit and nut trees and enjoying the fruits of your labor. I wish you good luck and good harvesting.