Fruit Tree Pollination

Q: I have newly planted fruit trees: two avocados, one plum, one nectarine, one fig, three various citrus. I have been told that in order for them to bear fruit I must have two of each variety. Do they need to pollinate each other? The plum is a few years old, fed and well taken care of, but still no fruit. All the others are 1 to 2 years old and also no fruit
– Lisa Klein
Thousand Oaks
A: Woody perennials of all kinds can take several years to acclimate themselves to your garden before they blossom or produce fruit. That said, fruit trees have varying degrees of self-fertility or self-sterility. Self- sterile plants do produce fruit and seeds, but they require pollination from another plant. Self-sterility is actually a better guarantee of long- term survival than self-fertility – because of their diverse parents and diverse genetic background, self-sterile trees will have a wider spectrum of drought tolerance and pest resistance.
Let’s take a look at each type of fruit tree you mention, and some others as well, in terms of their need, or lack of need, for cross-pollinating companions:
Avocados are basically self-sterile and will produce very small crops when planted as single trees. If your avocado is a heavy producer and it is the only tree in your yard, there must be other avocado trees in the neighborhood. To make sure you get good crops, plant the black-fruited ‘Hass’ variety in combination with ‘Fuerte,’ a green-fruited variety.
Most common plum varieties are self-fruitful, including ‘Santa Rosa,’ which is the best Valley plum. The popular ‘Satsuma,’ however, does require another variety to produce fruit.
Nearly all nectarine varieties, including the locally recommended ‘Gold Mine,’ are self-fruitful.
Garden fig varieties, such as Valley favorites ‘Brown Turkey’ and ‘Black Mission,’ are self-fruitful.
All citrus – lemon, orange, grapefruit and others – are self-fruitful.
Weakly self-fruitful, popular Valley apple varieties such as ‘Anna’ and ‘Dorsett Golden’ produce best when planted next to each other. ‘Fuji’ will produce well on its own.
All pears are self-sterile. Asian types – plant two different varieties together – will fruit best in the Antelope Valley. Common pears require colder winters than Southern California’s.
Sweet cherries are self-sterile and, due to their cold winter requirement, will grow with difficulty south of Antelope Valley. Plant ‘Bing’ and ‘Black Tartarian’ together. Tart cherries are self-fruitful.
Like the sweet cherry, almonds also are self-sterile and in need of a cold winter to produce.
Most apricot types are self-fruitful, including ‘Moorpark’ and ‘Katy,’ which are local favorites.
Weakly self-fruitful, walnuts require two different varieties to produce significant crop.
Kiwi, pistachio and date palm are dioecious trees, meaning they require male and female trees to produce fruit. Kiwi and pistachio demand Antelope Valley cold to produce. Date palm will produce in the Valley but gets too large for back yard growing.
TIP OF THE WEEK: Make sure when you plant your fruit trees that they get enough sun. They should receive at least five to six hours of direct sunlight each day.

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