These apples and pears were grown in North America during the Colonial Era and through the time of the American...
Fruit Tree Bloom Dates
A fruit is an ovary whose primary function – from the tree’s point of view – is to bear seeds, which are the “offspring” of the tree in embryonic form. In order to create fruit and seeds, the tree’s flowers need to be fertilized, or pollinated, and in order to be pollinated, many trees need to receive pollen from another tree that is of the same species but a different variety. See our primer on fruit tree pollination.
You might think that making sure an apple tree produces fruit is as simple as having two different apple trees in your yard, but there is one important variable to take into consideration: those two trees must be in bloom at the same time in order for either of them to be pollinated. It’s all very well and good if your Liberty is covered in flowers and there are bees all over it, but if the Blondee at the other side of the yard hasn’t even opened its flowers yet, then all that pollen is going to waste (except for the honey). The two trees cannot pollinate each other in this scenario.
Another reason to pay attention to bloom time is the weather. If you live in an area where late frosts are common, you can avoid complete crop loss by choosing varieties with later bloom times. A blossom that is not yet open is a lot less likely to be damaged by freezing temperatures. What counts as a late frost? From a fruit growers perspective, a late frost is one that happens during the bloom period. In NY, bloom starts in mid-late April with apricot bloom and ends in early June with the last of the apple bloom, and we almost always have freezing temperatures during apricot bloom, often even snow.
The exact dates of bloom are different in the various climates around the country, but the sequencing of species and varieties will aways be roughly the same. For this reason, we rarely give actual bloom dates; instead, we tend to use descriptions such as “early blooming” or “late blooming.” This means that the variety will bloom early or late within the bloom period that is specific to the area in which it is being grown.
Apple Bloom Dates
The period within which all apple varieties will bloom is roughly three weeks in spring, right on the heels of pear bloom, and each specific apple variety will bloom for roughly a week within that period. (Bloom times can be extended or shortened by temperature variations from year to year.) As is common practice when discussing apple bloom, we have divided the bloom period into five smaller time frames and assigned each variety to one of these five divisions as shorthand for stating how early or late that variety typically blooms.
Here are the bloom groups:
Group 1: early
Group 2: early-mid
Group 3: mid
Group 4: mid-late
Group 5: late
Fortunately, this does not mean that your trees must belong to exactly the same bloom group in order to pollinate each other. Rather, your trees shouldn’t be at opposite ends of the spectrum. Avoid matching trees from Group 1 with trees from Groups 4 and 5, and avoid matching trees from Group 5 with any from Groups 1 and 2. If these simple rules are followed, you have done what you need to do to ensure that your apple trees will pollinate each other.
Of course, you can also just let our handy Pollenizer Search do the work for you!
Finally, you can solve almost any pollination issue by adding a tree that blooms mid-season. Such trees can usually pollinate both early and late blooming varieties.
Asian and European Pear Bloom Dates
Pear bloom starts roughly midway through peach bloom and about a week before the start of apple bloom. The bloom period for pears is more condensed than that of apples, which means you are much less likely to have pollination problems arising from incompatible bloom times.
Asian pears are compatible with European pears. 20’th Century, Hosui, Niitaka, Olympic, Shinko, Shinseiki, and Yoinashi are in bloom at the same time as the majority of European Pears.
European pear bloom is less attractive to bees than apple bloom. It’s a good idea to plant your pear trees near each other and, if you have bee boxes, move them into the area during bloom.
Cherry Bloom Dates
Because sweet cherry pollination is complicated, we always recommend that growers start with one self-fertile “universal pollenizer.” This way you are guaranteed to have at least some cherries in your crop. Once you start adding trees to your cherry collection, you will likely have questions about bloom times. The two lists below are groups that will not make good pairings because their bloom times are at the opposite ends of the sweet cherry bloom period:
|Earliest Bloom||Latest Bloom|
We do not recommend using tart cherries as pollenizers for sweet cherries, as the bloom time for tart cherries is usually later than that of sweet cherries.
Plum Bloom Dates
European plums (Prunus domestica) and Japanese/hybrid plums (Prunus salinica) cannot be used to pollinate each other. When planting plums, the safest course is to plant several varieties of European plum or several varieties of Japanese/hybrid plum, or both. Exact data on bloom time is unavailable for some varieties, so we typically suggest planting as many different varieties as possible. This said, Santa Rosa and Bubblegum/Toka are excellent self-fertile pollenizers for other Japanese/hybrid plums that also produce an outstanding fruit.
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