If you get it right, fruiting is a no-brainer, but if it’s not the right variety, you may never have a crop.

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Just because your new fruit tree bloomed this spring doesn’t mean it will produce fruit. It all depends on the variety you chose, and whether it’s reliable in your immediate microclimate.

If you get it right, fruiting is a no-brainer, but if it’s not the right variety, you may never have a crop.

For example, the older apricots at the first home I bought flowered like crazy every year, the first to do so in my orchard. But despite water, pruning, fertilizer, etc., I never got a single apricot in 20 years. The previous owners definitely planted the wrong trees for our yard.

Choosing the right one is vital because you’ll invest years in its growth before you finally see a crop … or not. If the one you chose isn’t well adapted locally, it will languish, fail to flower, fail to produce fruit, or the fruit won’t ripen.

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Here are three handy tips to help you get the right fruit tree for your yard this year. Look for these details on the grower’s tag attached to each tree.

Get season timing right. Fruit-tree varieties are labeled as early, midseason or late. This relates to the fruit yields, and also to flowering times. In areas of late frost, choose late-blooming varieties to ensure the weather is more settled and bees are flying when they bloom.

The success of fruit trees depends on the variety you choose, and whether it’s reliable in your immediate microclimate. (Tribune News Service)
The success of fruit trees depends on the variety you choose, and whether it’s reliable in your immediate microclimate. (Tribune News Service)

Check chilling requirements. Each kind of fruit has a need for winter cold; some, such as cherries, need a lot more winter cold. This is linked to dormancy, because without enough cold the trees can’t “rest” in winter and lose vigor. They will finally fail, often when the bark is sunburned from too small a canopy to shade itself. Know how many chilling hours your local climate produces in order to avoid those trees that ask for more than you can give.

Choose the right size. Fruit trees are grafted in ways that make them smaller and better adapted to your backyard. The original full-size trees are recommended where deer are a problem so eventually fruit is produced beyond their reach. Semi-dwarf trees are about 30 percent smaller, making the fruit more accessible where space is limited. They are also easier to pick and prune than standard sizes. Dwarf fruit trees are even smaller, and make a fine choice for growing fruit in the city.

Independent garden centers that have been in your town for a long time are the best places to buy fruit trees. These folks know the local climate and only order fruit trees that will grow well and fruit easily. They can tell you why one variety may be better than another, and offer informed tips about your soil, local winds, typical diseases and other characteristics.