So if you had to guess, what would you say is the average life span of a fruit tree in Texas – 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 years? I reckon if you got right down to it, most fruit trees last about 10 years in the landscape. However we have documented evidence of orchards still producing economic yields when they are 30 plus years old. Hence, the question, what do we do with old fruit trees? Or said another way, when do we decide to start over and stop “babying” those old, tired trees?
There are several reasons for the death of fruit trees, but the most common causes are scale, bacterial canker, peach tree borer, root rot, overproduction, and lack of care. There is no question that the number one killer of peach trees in Texas is scale. Scale literally sucks the life out of trees and in fact once a tree is severely infested, it is very hard, if not impossible, to revive. Hence, annual dormant oil applications are critical for the survival of fruit trees.
Bacterial canker is the second leading killer of fruit trees, especially Prunes sp., i.e. peaches, plums, and apricots. There is no cure for this bacterial problem once the trees are infected, so the goal is to maintain healthy trees. The more healthy the trees, the better they withstand the problem. The key is keeping the trees healthy with water, fertilizer and good weed control. The better you do these three, the less this potential killer will affect your trees. Still, even the best cared for trees will eventually succumb. Selective pruning of cankers can prolong the life, but eventually one must bite the bullet and start over.
Most folks would like to blame borers for the downfall of their trees. It is true that peach tree borer is again a major problem for Prunes sp., however many times other borer problems are secondary. If you have had trees die of peach tree borer in the past, you will have to spray to keep this pest in check. However, secondary borer problems can result from things which weaken the trees. What happens is the trees become sick and weak for whatever reason, which allows other borers an opportunity to get started in this weak wood on the tree. This secondary infection by the borers will usually finish the trees off.
Root rot, specifically cotton root rot, has been a huge problem in Texas for many years. Luckily this fungus does not occur everywhere, but where it does occur, there is nothing you can do to control the problem. Certain plants like Mexican plum and persimmon are less susceptible, but even these plants can succumb under high-pressure conditions. Maintaining good soil drainage and preventing tree over cropping can reduce the problem.
Another type of root rot that affects fruit trees is post oak root rot. This problem is associated with areas formerly inhabited by brush and trees, especially Post oak trees. Again there is no control for the problem.
Lastly we need to address your particular care or management program. Trees, even fruit trees, are particularly tough once established. A peach tree can endure an enormous amount of drought once established for several years and pears are well known for their hardiness. Still there are a few things we can do from a management standpoint that can reduce the amount of stress encountered by your trees. For one thing, there is only a limited amount of fruit a tree can hold without breaking down. Not only do branches break, but also the tree is pushed to the limit trying to fill out the huge amount of fruit on the tree. All food goes to this end and the result is limited stored food in the tree, which makes it vulnerable to cold damage. So crop load balance is one area of management that can help reduce tree stress. Ideally fruit should be thinned to one fruit for every 30 to 40 leaves on the tree. Of course, I realize you can’t control Mother Nature and the late freezes she sometimes throws our way which is why the fruit was limited in many parts of the state in 2003.
Other management aspects we have control over are food, drink and competition. Trees are just like us, they have to eat, they need water for the various physiological processes which occur in the cells and it is easier for one tree to grow in a small space than it is for 10. The most limiting factor to plant growth in Texas is nitrogen. Nitrogen is needed for strong shoot growth, and chlorophyll development, which is the backbone of photosynthesis or food manufacture. Contrary to some beliefs it does not matter where the tree acquires its nitrogen, i.e. either organic or inorganic sources. The key is that the tree has a sufficient amount to make 10 to 15 inches up to 2 feet of annual growth each year. If your trees are making this amount of growth under your current program, even if it means you are doing nothing at all, you are doing well. When your trees are not growing, have yellow leaves and look poorly, it is time to take action.
The factor which makes fertility work or not work, is water. In fact most nutrients move to the roots via this soil water rather than the roots moving to them. So if you have a nutrient deficiency and it is dry, it is a water or drought problem rather than the nutrient being absent. Most crop plants would like to have 1 inch of water per week. This may seem like a lot and of course trees survive on a lot less, so if nothing else a good soaking every three or four weeks would be most beneficial.
The management practice which is the most abused and neglected in the state of Texas, is weed control. What is really sad is that if folks did nothing but keep the weeds and grass away from a tree out to the drip line for the first five to six years of the life of the tree, the tree would do better than if they did one of the above things, but did not control weeds. Weeds are severe competitors for both water and nutrients.
So if you really want something to grow, control the weeds and grass around it. There are many good ways to control weeds: hoe, herbicides, mulch, weed barrier fabrics, and others. The key to weed control is to start when you plant the tree and continue to do so for the first five to six years. You can keep it up, if you like, for the life of the tree and the tree will do even better.
The last management practice which many folks grossly abuse is that of pruning. Pruning should only be done for a specific purpose. Good reasons to prune include: developing a strong tree framework for future production, removing dead or broken limbs, and/or thinning branches out to reduce potential crop load. This pruning should be performed right at or just before bud break. In this way the tree is in an active state of growth and the wounds will heal much faster. This will reduce the chance of bacterial pathogens entering the tree. So proper pruning will go a long way to maintaining tree health. Sometimes we prune too much which allows for intense sunlight to strike major scaffold limbs. This direct sunlight on previously shaded wood along with freeze damage can lead to sunscald or dead areas on the top of the scaffold limbs. This damage leads to dead and/or broken limbs. So many times we end with old trees, which only have one or two healthy and productive limbs.
Having said all of that brings us back to the original question, “What do we do with old fruit trees?” I hope you will agree that if one had managed the tree a bit, it would be more healthy and its life span would probably be longer.
Many of the things which we discussed will kill a tree outright, mainly scale and/or root rot. When that happens, we have no choice but to start over. However, many times we just lose a limb or two from borers, sunscald, or over cropping. So we prune these affected limbs off and eventually we end up with an old tree with maybe one or two productive limbs. Oftentimes we try to rejuvenate these trees, but in reality we need to take them out. There is no reason to “baby” a tree along which has no framework on which to produce a crop. In reality it would be best to take such trees out and start over with a young, healthy tree. Given the proper growing conditions, a young tree can grow 6 to 7 feet in one growing season. One can be back into production in a matter of months.
So the take home message from this article is to take trees out when their productive life has expired. Many have sentimental value, but are worthless as far as production goes. So if your quest is to produce fruit, you must bite the bullet and take trees out when they are no longer productive.
By the same token, do not give a tree too many second chances. If it fails to produce a quality product after four or five years, then it will probably never produce one and should be eliminated.
This may seem harsh but survival of the fittest is a must for commercial orchard folks and homeowners would be wise to follow their lead.
- Growing fruit trees: A fruitful task
- How Long Do Fruit Trees Live in Utah?
- Arborists’ Recommendations for Choosing & Planting Fruit Trees
- Can You Extend the Life of Your Fruit Trees?
- IMPORTANT ROOT STOCK FOR THE SOUTH
- Pear Tree Lifespan Info: How Long Do Pear Trees Live
- How Long Do Pear Trees Live?
- Common Pear Tree Life Expectancy
- Formative Pruning
- Pros & Cons of a Cleveland Select Pear Tree
- Chanticleer Pear Tree
Growing fruit trees: A fruitful task
A change in spray regime can have a big effect. Orchards that had a strict, frequent, spraying regime which suddenly stops will often produce a diseased crop and then the following year the quality will pick up immeasurably.
A common reason for no fruit is a late frost, so if the tree’s life is in the balance, wait a year or two to be sure. Plums do tend to peg out or become weak and unproductive as they age; be ruthless and replace. It used to be said that pears were “planted for heirs”, inferring they take ages to be productive, but modern root stocks should mean fruit in two to three years. If pears are not fruiting, it is more likely to be cold conditions; they thrive in warm, sunny, sheltered sites. In colder areas try ‘Conference’ or ‘Winter Nelis’. Nick Dunn of Frank Matthews Ltd (wholesale fruit growers with a fabulous range, www.trees-for-life.com, 01584 810214) advises not to prune them hard in the first two or three years, as this inhibits fruiting.
Many of us have delicious apples of an unknown type and if you want to get another, genetically identical, Frank Matthews provides a tree rescue service. If you send the firm some suitable grafting wood it will graft it on to an appropriate rootstock and send you a new, genetically identical tree; or it can sell you the root stock and kit to graft yourself.
Because apples are such good survivors, mature specimens often occur in prime spaces in older gardens. Seize the opportunity they provide – their smallish scale and often relatively open branch structure is ideal for slotting a tree house into the canopy, albeit usually supported on independent legs. Alternatively, consider a large seat around the trunk, a climbing rose up its boughs, a low swing from a sturdy branch or just sowing some mistletoe berries in a crevice.
Removing dead or diseased branches opens up the framework; combined with a good feed, this should give any tree a new lease of life. The extra sunshine will also boost the sugar levels in the fruit, so the crop will taste sweeter.
These trees will be perfect for large patio containers for a number of years and so you can have your own fresh fruits even if space is limited! These trees are on a dwarfing rootstock and are easy to grow and crop reliably.
Buy the fruit tree collection from gardenshop.telegraph.co.uk
A client called recently, concerned about her Utah fruit trees — one peach tree, in particular.
This tree was near and dear to her heart, as her father had planted it before his passing, years earlier. She noticed one day that more than half the tree appeared to be dying. She was certain the problem was pests or a disease if some kind.
When we went to take a look, however, it became obvious that the tree had simply reached the end of its natural life span. So what is the life span of a fruit tree in Utah? And can you do anything to make your fruit trees live longer?
How Long Do Fruit Trees Live in Utah?
The answer to this question depends on the variety of tree. It’s also important to remember that they will not produce fruit for their entire lives. Specific cultivars from one variety have different life spans as well. For example, heirloom varieties have a much shorter life span, but produce more flavorful fruit than a variety bred for hardiness and longevity.
Generally, you can expect Utah fruit trees to live and produce fruit somewhere within these ranges:
Apple15 to 35 years
Pear10 to 30 years
Peach8 to 12 years
Cherry15 to 20 years
Plum15 to 20 years
Apricot15 to 20 years
Besides the northern Utah climate, the strongest influences on plant health and life span are the types of diseases and pests in your area, the growing conditions and the care you give your trees.
Fortunately, you can control some of these factors.
Arborists’ Recommendations for Choosing & Planting Fruit Trees
One way to ensure that your trees thrive and produce prolific harvests for as long as possible is to choose the right species and cultivar for your area.
But whatever fruit you prefer, giving your trees the proper care is the best way to lengthen their life. This starts with siting them correctly within your landscape. Once planted, your trees require consistent care, including periodic fertilization and pruning.
Although you can take some steps to prevent damage from pests and diseases, the most effective way to create a tree resistant to diseases and pests is to care for it correctly. A healthy tree has the best chance by far of resisting the most common diseases.
Make sure you allocate the correct amount of space when planting, and if you have self-unfruitful trees, be sure to plant two different varieties. You want a location that is protected from the harsh, winter winds, has good drainage and is not especially low-lying, as cold tends to settle in these areas more at night.
Can You Extend the Life of Your Fruit Trees?
If you choose your plants well and locate them appropriately, you’ll have a great head start. Proactive care will keep your fruit trees healthy, strong and producing stellar harvests for as long as possible.
In Utah, fruit tree care consists of periodic pruning, fertilization and pest control treatments.
When your plants receive the proper care, they will thrive year after year. Not only that, but they will produce healthier, tastier fruit that is pest-free and easy to harvest.
In Murray, Utah, Reliable Tree Care is the region’s expert in fruit tree pruning, fertilization, and disease and pest control. Contact us today to learn more about Utah fruit tree care.
Why Don’t My Fruit Trees Live Longer?
Growing fruit trees in the Deep South can be a wonderful, rewarding hobby that can offer many tasty returns. We are blessed with a great climate that offers a huge range of fruits that can be successfully grown here; after all there are very few places in the world you can grow citrus and apples in the same yard. But with this great climate of short mild winters also comes a wider range of bugs and fungus. It’s these issues that can weaken a fruit tree and make it have a shorter life span than we would see in more northern climates. Getting your trees to live as long as possible relies on some careful planning and work to keep them healthy
Begin by buying healthy trees grafted on the correct root stock for our area. Our climate is unique and you’ll need to find the trees that have been bred to be successful in our area. To understand this more deeply read our “Choosing Fruit Trees Fact Guide”. Having your tree grafted on the correct root stock is one of the key factors to the longevity of your trees, and it’s probably one on the most overlooked and rarely talked about points when buying fruit trees in the Deep South. In the case of peach, plum and nectarines it can mean the difference of a tree living three to four years verses ten to fifteen years. For instance, dwarfing root stocks are often a very bad idea in the Deep South. Most dwarfing root stocks have been bred for climates different than ours and are weak growers, thus being very short lived in the Deep South. There are exceptions; Flying Dragon trifoliate is a good dwarfing root stock for citrus. Here’s a chart to help guide you:
|FRUIT TYPE||CORRECT ROOT STOCK||
Wooly Aphid Resistant and Semi Dwarf
Trifoliate. For dwarfing use “Flying Dragon” Trifoliate
Keeps tree dormant in winter prevents freeze damage
Peach, Plum and Nectarine
Nemaguard or Guardian Peach
Fire Blight resistant
Native American Persimmon
Establishes on a wide range of soils and is heat tolerant
The longevity of a tree also begins with giving it a good start. Plant them in the right place. Fruit trees need a lot of sun it stay healthy, choose a place that receives at least a half a day of strong afternoon sun. Have your soil tested for pH before you plant and periodically throughout the trees life. See our “Planting Guide” to determine the correct pH each type of fruit tree. Adjusting the soil Ph to the correct range will allow the plant to absorb the fertilizer you are putting on the tree, which will keep them healthy. When you buy fertilizer choose one that releases slowly, so it feeds the tree over a long time, and be sure it includes trace elements. Just like us humans, plants need their vitamins to stay healthy.
Producing fruit is a huge drain on a tree. While young, years one and two, a tree is forming structure and building strength. Fruit loads on the tree during this time period can weaken the tree, pull it out of shape, and lead to an early demise. It is best to remove all the newly forming fruit the first year after planting. Thin heavily or remove all fruit again on the second year if the tree has not grown well. Throughout the trees life thin your crops to balance the trees health and achieve a good size fruit.
Avoid water stress. Watering during droughts, and when the trees are under a fruit load, will insure the trees remains healthy and strong. Think about installing a micro sprinkler system with a timer on it so you can take a vacation from the watering detail. These systems are cheap and easy for the home owner to install, they insure the root system is evenly watered and a timer will save you money in the long run. Read our “Micro Sprinkler Guide”.
Keeping your trees disease free goes a long way to making them live longer. Monitor your trees closely for disease and bugs, and if you find a problem email us a photo or bring in a sample of the problem. We are here to help guide you through the learning curve of what to do and when to do it. You can also read our “Monthly Orchard Guide” to get an idea on what the timing is for key sprays.
Pear Tree Lifespan Info: How Long Do Pear Trees Live
The pear tree lifespan is a tricky subject, because it can depend upon so many things, from variety to disease to geography. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re completely in the dark, and plenty of estimates can be made. Keep reading to learn more about pear tree life expectancy.
How Long Do Pear Trees Live?
With optimal conditions, wild pear trees can live upwards of 50 years. Among cultivated pears, however, this is rarely the case. Often orchards will replace a pear tree before the end of its natural lifespan when fruit production slows.
As fruit trees go, pears have a long period of production, but they will eventually slack and then stop. Many home fruit trees slow down considerably in putting out fruit after 10 years, but pear trees will often outstrip them by quite a few years. Even so, if your 15-year-old pear tree no longer produces flowers or pears, you may want to replace it.
Common Pear Tree Life Expectancy
Pear trees grow best in warm, dry areas such as the Pacific Northwest, and they can be grown in these areas in much greater variety. In other places, however, there are only a couple of varieties that will thrive, and these have relatively short lifespans.
The Bradford pear is very common, especially in cities, due to its tolerance of poor soil and pollution. The Bradford pear tree lifespan is 15-25 years, often topping out at 20 years. Despite its hardiness, it is genetically predisposed to a short life.
Its branches grow upward at an unusually steep angle, causing it to split apart easily when the branches become too heavy. It is also especially vulnerable to fire blight, a common bacterial disease among pears that kills off branches and makes the tree less hardy overall.
So as far as the average lifespan of pear trees go, again depending on variety and climate, anywhere from 15 to 20 years is possible, given adequate growing conditions.
SERIES 18 | Episode 17
Ornamental pears have become really popular garden plants, particularly Pyrus ussuriensis the Manchurian pear. The tree has inherent branch weaknesses, which means that it can fall apart and in a home garden that’s a considerable safety problem.
The biggest problem is included bark, which is where the bark grows into the junction between the branches, and means you don’t really get good, firm attachment. The result is that the branch has simply peeled off and broken. Although good bark is produced to heal the wound, it’s still an unsightly feature and unsafe when the branch breaks.
Another problem is a V-crotch or an acute branch structure. It’s where one branch has grown quickly and with the weight of foliage it acts like a lever and that can easily lead to a break.
One option for a tree with poor branch structure is to cut the tree of at ground level and then take one of the shoots and train it up into a new tree. But you may have to remove one or two poorly structured branches as it grows, and that leaves rather unsightly wounds.
Not all pear trees have the problem. There are many excellent cultivars around, like ‘Aristocrat’, ‘Chanticleer’, ‘ Capital and ‘Bradford’, which are fine garden plants.
But Pyrus ussuriensis, or Manchurian Pear, does seem to have the tendency. In fact one mature tree has included bark, it’s got V crotch and branches coming from the one point on the trunk, and thus the potential to break apart at that point. To overcome the problem bolts have been used to hold the tree together and extend its useful life.
There are techniques to overcome problems, so we don’t face them as the tree matures.
The principles of selecting a tree and preparing it for planting are the same. I doubt whether you would find a tree in a nursery with three co-dominant stems – it means that none of them are going to become the main leader and pruning two off would not leave much. It’s not a tree to buy.
A tree with two major leaders has co-dominance and that is also a bit of a problem. You could prune it out and there would be a wound – it’s not perfect but it could come good.
A better tree is one with a dominant trunk and some lateral branches which are fine. You might remove a branch and clean some of the inner branches so there is not too much rubbing in the centre of the tree but the aim is for one major stem.
Look for the perfect tree from the beginning – one with good dominant upright growth and well-formed lateral branches and that will give many years of enjoyment and pleasure, without a lot of problems.
Pros & Cons of a Cleveland Select Pear Tree
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Part of the pyrus calleryana, along with the Aristocrat, Autumn Blaze, Redspire and Bradford pear trees, the Chanticleer or Cleveland Select is an ornamental pear tree created in Cleveland, Ohio. The tree is medium sized and grows 30 feet tall and 15 feet wide. This rapidly growing ornamental tree is weather-, urban- and cold-tolerant, but it has been found to spread quickly and become invasive.
The Cleveland Select pear tree is hardy. It can withstand high winds and severe storms. The tree is cold tolerant and can handle ice storms. The Cleveland Select hardens earlier in the fall, so the ice and cold, particularly during early frosts, do not harm the tree. This resistance gives the tree a longer life span than the Bradford pear. Of the pyrus calleryana trees, the Cleveland Select is considered one of the hardiest trees.
Cleveland Select pear trees are resistant to fire blight. The trees thrive in urban settings. Their branches do not break easily when compared other pear trees. The Cleveland Select tolerates dry and well-drained, moist soils. It thrives in full sun and is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8.
Cleveland Select pear trees produce clusters of white blossoms with 2- to 3-inch petals in the spring before the leaves appear on the tree. It has more blossoms than other pear trees. The leaves are glossy and oval shaped, and the tree has an appealing pyramidal shape. This tree has brilliant yellow, orange, purple and red leaves during the fall. The tree is bred for ornamental purposes, and is fruitless.
Cleveland Select pear trees are showing up in areas they were never intended to grow. Some have produced fruit, which they were never intended to do, and the seeds are easily spread. They grow wild and multiply rapidly. Their rapid expansion has disturbed railroads, parks and roadways, especially with the added bird populations. Seedlings are not the same as their parents either, and they have large thorns and grow in dense formations.
Chanticleer Pear Tree
The beautiful flowering Chanticleer pear tree is a landscapers delight. This article will tell you all about this lovely, ornamental pear tree.
With the advent of spring, the Chanticleer pear tree springs to life with a sheet of white flowers. It comes from the genus Pyrus, belonging to the same family as the apple, the Maloideae family. Originally cultivated for the fruit, many pear tree varieties were later introduced for their ornamental value. The tree is planted for both; fruit as well as beautifying the landscape. It is native to China.
- The Chanticleer pear is an upright, pyramidal, deciduous tree that will grow up to 40 feet high, and spread 15 feet wide.
- It is favored by landscapers where lateral space to spread is restricted.
- It is also known as Improved Bradford, Cleveland Select, or Callary pear tree.
- It has earned the distinction of being awarded ‘the Urban Tree of the Year’ by the Society of Municipal Arborists in 2005.
- Since it is upright and does not create a mess with its shedding, it is a popular street tree.
- It bears white flowers that grow in abundant clusters.
- Although edible, its fruit is not very highly favored.
- The fall season sees a drastic change in its smooth, glossy long and pendulous-shaped leaves, as they now turn purplish-red.
A line of chanticleer trees in bloom
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An orchard of chanticleer pear trees in bloom
Chanticleer pear tree branch in full bloom
Flowers of the chanticleer pear tree
- The Chanticleer ornamental pear is a shallow-rooted tree that grows well in most soils; alkaline, clay, dry, loamy, moist, sandy, well drained or wet.
- Of all the flowering tree types, this one is easy to grow and maintain.
- Soil should be maintained at a pH balance between three and six, which will result in good flower production. They do well in zones 5 – 8.
- Regular watering should be done for young plants until established, after which they can be watered as per seasonal changes.
- Fertilizing a pear before its bloom period will ensure a good and long bloom.
Although resistant to most diseases, this tree too, like its other pear cousins, can fall prey to a variety of fungal and bacterial diseases. Fungal diseases include black rot, blue mold rot, canker, scab, etc. Most of these diseases affect the leaves underside, and then spread to the whole tree. Unchecked and untreated, they damage the flowering capacity of the tree, and tend to rot it from within. There are many pesticides available that one can use to ensure that the pear tree stays healthy and devoid of all pests and diseases. Of all diseases, it is very resistant to fireblight.
Due to its steep, upright main stems, the Chanticleer is very susceptible to branch breakages, especially as these trees approach 15 to 20 years of age. It becomes very vulnerable during storms or snowfalls. Pruning in time is the only way to contain the damage. Train the tree when it is young, to multiple trunks and to develop a strong structure. Prune either in winter or early spring, before the flower buds begin to sprout.
Chanticleer pear tree, with its bright white flowers, and purple red fall foliage, will add amazing beauty to your landscape in every season. Not to mention that in spring, it will attract a large number of beautiful bees and butterflies to your garden!
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