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Fruit tree pollination

Fruit tree pollination

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Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

Before you purchaser your fruit trees, carefully evaluate the pollination requirement of each fruit. Most fruit trees need cross-pollination for good fruit set, so you may need to buy more than just one variety.

For backyard trees, the pollen sources, such as a neighbor’s apples or crabapples need to be less than 100 feet away. The honey bee is the most important carrier of pollen. Pollen transfer is seldom done by wind. Backyard plantings probably have enough bees to do the job if they are working the fruit trees. Bees are not active in cool, wet or windy weather. They also are attracted to many other flowers in the garden which prevents them from adequately pollinating your fruit.

All varieties of apples require some cross pollination for fruit set. Even though some varieties are self-fruitful, they set more fruit more regularly if they are cross-pollinated. Winter Banana, Golden Delicious, or flowering crab apples such as Manchurian and Snowdrift make excellent pollinizers.

The common varieties of nectarines and most peaches are self-fruitful. Self-unfruitful varieties of peaches are J.H. Hale, Earlihale, Hal-Berta and any other peach verity related to the Hale peaches. Most other varieties of peaches will pollinate these self-unfruitful varieties but Elberta is not a good pollinizer for J.H.Hale.

Self-fruitful varieties of apricots are Tilton, Wenatchee, Royal and Moorpark. These will set commercial crops without cross-pollination. Self-unfruitful varieties of apricots are Riland, Perfection and Rival. Any self-unfruitful varieties can be pollinized by any other variety. Sour and Sweet Cherry

All sour cherries are self fruitful. These include Montmorency, North Star, Montmore, Meteor, English Morello, Early Richmond, Hansen Bush Cherry and Nanking. Index, Lapins, Stella and Sweetheart are self-fruitful sweet cherries; all other varieties are self unfruitful. There are several varieties that are cross-unfruitful: for example, Bing, Lambert and Royal Ann (Napoleon) will not pollinate each other.

Pear Anjou and Bartlett are partially self-fruitful but should be cross-pollinated to produce heavy and regular crops. Bartlett, Comice and Hardy may set large crops of parthenocarpic fruit. Consider the fire blight susceptibility of the particular pear cultivar, since the pollen source is useless if stunted or killed. Pear blossoms have a short season and the small amount of nectar produced is not attractive to bees.

Japanese plums. Two of the most popular varieties, Burbank and Abundance, are self-unfruitful but will pollinize each other. European varieties should not be depended upon to pollinize Japanese varieties because of bloom date differences.

European Plums. Stanley and Damson are self-fruitful and will pollinize other European varieties. All other European plums require pollen from another European variety.


Pollination: the transfer of pollen from the anthers to the stigma of a flower.

Self-pollination: when the transfer of pollen occurs within the same variety.

Cross-pollination: when the transfer of pollen occurs between two varieties.

Self-unfruitful: very little fruit will set unless the blossoms are fertilized with pollen of another variety.

Self-fruitful: varieties that set fruit with their own pollen.

Cross-unfruitful: two varieties, when cross-pollinated, will not set fruit.

Compatible: varieties that fertilize each other.

Parthenocarpic: fruit that is set and grown without fertilization (no seeds present).

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