New Fruits for a New Year

Friday, January 21st, 2011 by Jenny Watts
    • Bare root fruit trees are now available. Choose one tree or a whole orchard and get them planted while the weather is good for digging.
    • Strawberries can be planted any time now. Get them in early, and you’ll be picking strawberries this summer.
    • Primroses will give you the most color during this cold weather. Choose some pretty ones now for your boxes and beds.
    • Prune fruit trees, grapes, berries, and ornamental trees this month. Take in a pruning class and sharpen your shears before you start.
    • FREE Fruit Tree Pruning Class on Sunday, January 30 from 10 AM to 2 PM at Sanhedrin Nursery, 1094 Locust St., Willits.

New Varieties for the Orchard

Whether it’s a new variety for an old orchard, or an old variety for a new orchard, home-grown fresh fruits just can’t be beat. So consider planting some of these tasty fruits this year.

One of the most exciting new apples is called Honeycrisp. Developed at the University of Minnesota, it is now one of the most popular apples in the country. The red-over-yellow fruit is so crisp that a bite of apple almost “snaps off into your mouth”. It is very juicy and also stores well.

An unusual apple called Pink Pearl is named for its bright, pink flesh. It has a yellow-green skin, and a crisp, juicy flesh with tart to sweet-tart taste. It is a good keeper and makes a colorful, tasty applesauce. The profuse show of pink flower blossoms in the spring is an added bonus.

One of the very best keepers is called York. The greenish-yellow apple is very firm with crisp, juicy flesh that is very fine for baking and cider. Its late harvest extends the apple season.

A couple of interesting new pears are Magness and Potomac. Magness is a cross between Seckel and Comice and is a short-necked pear that is soft, delicately sweet, and juicy. It is almost free of grit cells and is described by some as “the best pear in the world.” Potomac is a small, sweet pear with buttery, fine-textured flesh. The skin is light green and glossy and the flavor is pleasingly tart. Both trees are resistant to fire blight.

Who can resist a new peach or nectarine? Donut peach has grown in popularity as it has become familiar in the markets. This odd-looking peach is white-fleshed with a sunken center, such that it resembles a doughnut. The seriously juicy flesh offers a delicious sweet flavor.

Baby Crawford is an antique variety that is considered the best-flavored peach by some. This small, intensely flavored yellow freestone has a golden orange skin with a slight blush. It makes a very rich dried fruit.

Rio Oso Gem is an old variety that is a favorite late yellow freestone. The fruit is large with sweet, rich flavor and it is excellent fresh or for freezing.

Cavalier nectarine is an attractive fruit that has orange-yellow skin blushed with mottled dark red. The medium-sized yellow freestone is firm and aromatic. It is resistant to brown rot, which can be a problem in the orchard as the fruit ripens. It is a hardy tree with showy blossoms.

Arctic Jay and Arctic Rose are two white nectarines that have been taste test winners. Arctic Jay is richly flavored with a balance of acid and sugar, while Arctic Rose is extremely sweet when ripe. Both are self-fruitful and highly recommended for home orchards.

The “Chinese date” or Jujube has reddish-brown fruits that are sweet and chewy like dates. These trees are hardy, drought-resistant and pest and disease free. Li jujube is self-fruitful.

Now is the time to plant fruit trees of all kinds from bare-root trees available at local nurseries. Be sure to add some of these tasty varieties to your orchard.