Featured post

Local Tree Help

If you want to buy trees, need help with your fruit trees, or want to inquire about our research orchard please call 512-844-2957. Our orchard is private and small but we do allow classes, tours and retail customers to pick up trees and soil. We also deliver and plant trees in Central Texas.

April 2014 Updates and Schedules

Currently we are on track to have apples all year round. The amount of apples is unknown. We had a great pre season. This is a photo of one of the early season Anna/Dorset hybrids that really enjoyed the weather (this tree is potted and started blooming Feb. 10th!).

Dorset potted 3rd year. Somehow apples are almost ripe!

Dorset potted 3rd year. Somehow apples are almost ripe!

January 2014 Updates

New updates for 2014. In January we foresee a different type of season for our climate. With flooding and excess rain in the Fall, there will be an uncharacteristically high amount of moisture in the soil. This will help maximize the immune system and the success of many varietals. The temperatures in Dec and Jan were so much lower than the average that we foresee an interesting season for all trees, but especially the colder varieties (Golden, Gala, etc.).

The biggest surprise is the new varietals from Houston (Anna and Dorset Golden) that have proved two things so far with their early-season success. They have shown the stability and aggressive fruiting nature of these trees in our climate. But more importantly it has shown that most of the trees bought under those names at big box nurseries are fake. We had gotten many Dorsets in 2009 and none of them are behaving anything like the new ones this year. We have been able to track exactly what real versions of this varietal will do. They are covered with heavy blossoms and started around Valentine’s Day and are going to ripen June 1st approx. By tying the branches down we have eliminated their desire for leafy growth and you can see where each fruit bud is getting maximum energy from the roots and are bursting with blossoms.

It is possible that this unusual Fall has affected both of these things. Remember, these trees are only 2 years old, were grown in containers in Houston in 2012 and were heavily fruiting when they arrived here in June of 2013. They were planted immediately and really rooted and took to the training. They are now actively fruiting and are not putting much energy into leafy growth. We have tried to give them a healthy central leader, eliminate competition and spot prune very little. This is important. The only pruning we did was to remove a large limb at the trunk and we picked one that didn’t look productive or well positioned on the tree. We of course tried NOT to top any of the trees. The research shows that if you want a second year semi-dwarf to fruit, you cannot prune the central leader.

So far going into February and late February we have seen the heavies blossoms imaginable and we hope the next update will reflect great fruit setting results.

The bees are back! Even after bee problems in 2012 (too many and a hive removal) they have come from the woods in good numbers. Luckily we are on a wooded lot and the tree growth provides great shelter for bee populations.

The fake Dorset Golden and Ein Shemer (probably Granny Smith) have not started any growth yet. This is indicative of normal later season varietals. They look just like the Gala and the Jonogold and the Golden Delicious, all mid season or late season types. All of these trees are still dormant (Feb. 23rd) and will probably not even start anything until Mid March to April.

The conclusion, buy ANNA! and then get something you know will cross-pollinate with them. We had Anna start one week earlier than Dorset and this is no problem. All of the new trees are now in full bloom and the bees are all over both of them.

End of 2013

Update for 2013

All apples in 2013 ripened in June. That is normal for our climate. Blooms in February and ripe in June. The warm climate speeds up the season and the trees for this climate have naturally short periods for ripening. An apple normally takes 130-170 days but in Austin it can be as little as 100 days. In 2014 we have a selection of late blooming trees, including Gala and Jonagold and we hope to find these producing later so that we have some fruit all year long! The Annas and Dorsets are trees that will eventually produce twice a year and that could also serve to extend the season!

Please contact us about trees and tree services. And in 2014 we will update about picking apples and available fruit and fruit products. Call with questions.

NEW apples and NOW palm trees

We currently have new varietals of apples (12 in total) and a new shipment of drought tolerant palm trees. We have Mediterranean Fan, Windmill, Blue Mexican Super and Pindo palms. All palms are as low as $60-$180. Delivery in Texas is $1 per mile per tree and planting is $45 per tree for small trees. Call us at 512-844-2957 with questions or orders.

New Plantings for 2013

This is your update for June 2013. New plantings include these varietals: Jonagold, Jonafree, Gibson Golden, Royal Gala, and Blondee. We currently have 37 trees that are being tested for extreme climate conditions. These are the varietals mentioned and a number of dwarf to semi-dwarf rootstock. Most of the rootstocks are m.9 and m.26, but there are four trees on nic. 29, which is a similar rootstock to m.9. We are considering if any of these smaller rootstocks are viable in native soil. Most of the hardier plants are on m.111 and we know that this drought-resistant rootstock is more durable for all of our conditions. But this rootstock has other characteristics that may or may not make it hard to grow to high density planting in our climate. Just because m.111 is trainable in milder climates does not mean in our long summers that we can make it work.

We are trying a variety of rootstocks and we are comparing planting and training methods. Planting methods include:

Raised bed: Trees are planted with graft joint 4-6″ above soil and in a 12-18″ raised bed created by blocks.

Mounded: Trees are planted in a mount that is raised 8-12″ above soil level. graft joint is still 4-6″ above soil level at top of mount. This will dramatically improve drainage and will let us control soil within mound easier. The roots of course will grow deeper and unless we seal this off, we cannot control completely the root exposure to our soil

Planting beds: Trees are planted in 6×6′ planting beds dug 12″ deep and filled with improved soil. Again, their roots will be allowed to leave the bed. The improved soil will attract the roots and should create a self-contained growing bed. That desire coupled with the dwarfing affect of the rootstock, pruning, etc should create a smaller root area. All of our trees planted in 2013 will have some form of staking.

Mixed soil: Trees will be planted in standard holes that have radial moats dug out around them and amended with improved organic type soils. These holes will be treated with sulfur and compost and phosphorus.

Standard soil: These trees will be planted in the ground with only minimal improvements.

Pot planting: These trees are left in 15g plastic pots. Some will be replanted to larger.

Container tree planting: These trees are planted in semi-permanent 40g-ish containers. The soil in these containers is maximized for apple trees, including drainage, root growth, oxygen, and natural fertilizers. The current mix is 50% Scotts Premium Topsoil (unfertilized dirt matter and peat), and 50% Pro Mix (degraded compost, sand and other organic matter). Hopefully this mix will maximize the sandy-type (for drainage and oxygen) combined with loamy type (rich, somewhat organic peat mix with good water-holding properties). All of these trees will be of course staked and/or trellised to some degree to allow roots to move through very loose soil with no regard for anchorage (from the roots). The current container trees are Royal Gala on hopefully m.9 (but possible m.26). Stark could not tell us which rootstock they used on this tree.

A note about G series: We have wanted to try the newer G series rootstock but have been told by quality growers that it is in too high demand. We are also worried that this demand may create an environment where growers cannot accurately predict if they are really getting G series and, because of the hype, any downside to the G series behavior in their bio zone. The G series is cold hardy, which does not matter to us, but is touted to be very disease resistant, especially to Fire Blight. This last advantage of course is highly valuable in our climate where early season humidity coupled with stressed trees and compacted soil results in various fungi infections on fruit trees. G series may present a chance for less stressed trees. But currently, none of the nursery or grower trees that we have gotten have been said to be on G. Some of the early Stark dwarfs were said to be m.9 or m.26, but of course could have been on G-16 or G-11 given the random characteristics of these classifications from last year’s trees.

B series is also a good possibility and more available. They have not become victim to the pricing hype and are a more resistant rootstock. B series is very cold hardy – designed perhaps for their Russian climates – and they improve cold resistance in the upper U.S. trees. Down here, we find, cold-resistance may be (but not clearly be) a disadvantage for a tree. It is unknown for us if if the B series cold-hardiness is correlate with degrading performance in the opposite climate or if the B series response to it is neutral. Clearly this quality alone cannot be advantageous in extreme warm climates.