What You Can Grow

  You can grow a wide array of fruit and nut trees in north-east Kansas. Some easier to grow than others. here is a well-rounded list that explores the possibilities.

The recommended varieties are ones that have some degree of resistance to common diseases, and are reasonably productive.  Much of the information is from our own experience and we acknowledge that not everyone’s experiences will be the same since our local growing environments vary widely.  Sunlight, soil type, moisture and soil fertility are a few of the factors governing tree health and productivity.

Apple –  Apples are  processable, portable, and culturally familiar fruit, but there is a whole rogues gallery of pests and diseases that will stand in your way of getting that bumper crop. To get of to a good start , select the most disease resistant cultivars you can find. Cultivars with known resistances to the big three, fire blight, scab, and cedar apple rust are what to look for. Selection of appropriate rootstocks suited to your site and maintenance regimen are also important considerations when selecting apples. I highly recommend reading The Apple Grower by Micheal Phillips to learn more about apple trees.

Cultivars include:   Ashmeads Kernel, Baldwin, Enterprise, Freedom, Golden Russet, Jonafree, Liberty,, Pristine, Redfree, Rebella , Releika , Roxbury Russet, Williams Pride,

Apricot –  Though it is difficult to get fruits yearly because of its early bloom time and the meddlesome plum curculiio causing premature drop, when you do get tree ripened fruits it is worth it because you’ll never taste anything as good in the super market. One of our favorite fruits!

Autumn Olive- Though considered to be an invasive species in many parts of the country , autumn olive can produces an outstanding fruit great for processing and fresh eating. Choose selected cultivars such as Amber and Ruby for which we have had great success. These large bushes need adequate rainfall to produce high yields of fruit. Harvest is made simple by shaking fruit onto sheets. The plants nitrogen fixing buddies, actinorhyzal bacteria, make it a useful nurse plant or food forest component.

Black walnut – Many people dislike these large trees because of the juglone they produce which is toxic to other plants. The nuts that fall on lawns may be considered a nuisance.  Well those nuts have some of the highest concentrations of protein of any temperate nut bearing tree. A truly high quality food. We would recommend planting named varieties that have nuts with more meat and are easier to crack. They are native, drought resistant, and are long lived trees.

Varieties include:   Daniels, Emma Kay, Football, Rowher, Ridgeway, Sauber, Schrieber, Suprise, Thomas Myers, etc.

Cherry – Aside from recommending Sand Cherries, Nanking Cherries & other species, there are varieties of Sour (Pie) & Sweet cherries to consider.   Our research is not as extensive on cherries but they can grow here successfully.   Cherries are vulnerable to late spring frosts which will affect the fruit set. They are also susceptible to a variety of diseases (black knot, leaf spot, brown rot and others).  Pests include borers and curculio. Borer prevention is essential since the holes provide pathways for other diseases.   Trees that are given good care and planted in better situations (sunny well with good airflow), will do better.  Keep an eye out for older ‘heirloom’ varieties that have done well in our area.  There are plenty of pollinators in the area, but is helpful to group different cultivars in a given planting.

Sour (Pie) Cherry –  Pie cherries generally have a better track record in our area than sweet cherries.  They are tough plants, have fairly consistent fruit production and have minimal pruning requirements.  Usually self fertile.

Varieties include:    Montmorency, North Star, Balaton , surefire,

Sweet Cherry – Sweet cherries are big trees that don’t thrive in our climate. Brown rot can ruin your crop it the course of a day.  Trees need one or more known pollinating sweet cherries to set fruit.

Che- The cousin of the tough Osage orange, the Che tree shows much promise for growing in our region. Blooms late, and produces a mesmerizing red fruit by September. Watermelon/mulberry flavored fruits with a smooth juicy texture.

Cornelian cherry – This is an edible dogwood with attractive flowers and foliage.  It may prefer more protected areas but does makes a good hedge, and is a small tree.

Varieties:  Any named varieties would be acceptable.

Pollination:   Need to plant two different varieties to ensure pollination.

Crabapple – They produce smaller fruit good for wildlife.  Many can be eaten or made into jam.     Ornamental white blooms and red fruit.  We are recommending  the Evereste patented variety.  Is very resistant to diseases. There are also others that have some resistance such as Dolgo, Centennial, etc.  Pollination comes from local crabapples and apples.  Not an issue.  Some pruning is required.     The tree size depends on the rootstock.

Currants & Gooseberries – These are fairly tough plants but some are susceptible to white pine blister rust and mildew.  Most currents are either black or red and have distinctive flavors and uses depending on which type you get.    Recommended resistant currant varieties include:   Ben Sarek, Minag Smyriou, Titania, Minnesota #52, Jostaberry, Jhonkheer Van Tets (?), Red Lake (?), Rovada (?) and Crandall (aka Buffalo Currant, Clove Currant and a cultivar named Crandall).

Hazelnut – This plant is native, drought resistant, grows in shade or sun, and can be a good hedge plant.   No pruning required.    Ornamental value.   There are some named varieties with larger nuts.   Hazelnuts planted in the open, away from trees will less likely be visited by squirrels.   Pay attention to the source descriptions since some are more tree like and others are more shrubby.

Varieties – Avoid European filberts because of potential disease issues.   Hybrids or pure Corylus Americana seedlings or rooted clones will work fine.  The hybrids will make bigger nuts.  Varieties include: Delta, Gamma, Gem, Jefferson, Lewis, Tonda di Giffoni, Santiam, Clark, and Yamhill.   There are also good seedling hybrids from Badgerset.

Pollinated by the wind, should have plantings in close proximity to ensure pollination. Check catalogue descriptions to make sure you plant varieties that will pollenate each other.

Jujube-  Jujubes are the toughest, most pest and disease free, drought tolerant, precocious and productive trees we have ever grown! The fruit is sweetness reminiscent of an apple but  without an acid component. It is crunchy, almost explosively. They have a lightweight spongy texture,  with low water content. We are growing five trees with four different cultivars.

June Berry / Service Berry – This is a smaller bushy plant.   Some species are native to our region and other are native in other parts of North America.  Some of the bushes may sucker, forming a dense shrub.  The foliage is attractive and ornamental.   Likes sun and some moisture.

Varieties include:  – Amelanchier canadensis (this is a small bushy tree), Regent, and Smoky are some cultivars.  There are many others.

Pawpaw – A native, shade dwelling, slow growing tree with tropical tasting fruit. If you haven’t tasted one, you have to get your paws on a paw paw. Named varieties make better fruit than there wild counterparts.  They prefer deep moist soils.  They can be planted as an understory tree or in full sun as long as they are shaded when they are young. Zebra swallow tail butterfly larva can defoliate trees. Mango is one of the most vigorous cultivars.

Varieties – There are many fine named varieties to select from and most would be very acceptable.   The variety Mango grows faster than most.  Some varieties are Sunflower, Mango, Overleese, Rebecca’s Gold, Prolific, Wells and many others.

Pollination –  Planting different varieties in the same area will help although hand pollination is the best method to produce fruit.

Peach – Peaches can do well here but are susceptible to blossom damage from late spring frosts.   Peach borer is common and can kill young trees. Curculio does not seem to be a problem. Recommended varieties include:  Redhaven, Reliance, Avalon pride

Pears – The main pear disease issue is fireblight and scab.    Pears are divided into two categories here – Asian and European types.    Pears are tough trees and generally do very well here.

European Pears – These pears are usually picked just before they ripen on the tree and are stored or ripened in your kitchen.  Pears ripen from the core out, so if allowed to completely ripen, they may be too ripe for good eating and will not be any good for storage.    Usually putting a pear in a bag with another pear or apple will cause it to ripen within a week.   Varieties include:  Ayers,  Kieffer, Luscious, Magness (sterile pollen producer), Moonglow, Potomac, Seckel, Summercrisp, Tyson, Warren. harrow delight, harrow sweet, Blakes pride,

Asian Pears –  Fairly disease resistant except for fireblight (see specific notes on varieties).  Ripens differently than the European pear, can be eaten fresh off the tree.   Minimal pruning requirements.  Good eating. Ornamental value.    Varieties – Shin Li (FB resistant),  Tse Li (some FB resistance), Ya Li (some FB tolerance & a pollinator for Tse Li),  Shinseiki (FB susceptible), Shinko (FB resistance), Olympic (tolerance to FB), etc.

Pecan – A large, native, tough and long lived tree.  Pecans requires deeper soil, and pruning is minimal.      There are many good northern varieties.  An excellent reference is http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/library/hort2/mf1025.pdf ‘Growing Pecans in Kansas.’

Varieties Colby (2), Peruque (1), Pawnee (1), Posey (2), Major (1), Kanza (2)

Pollination – This is critical in order to get nuts.  Pollinating partner trees need to be within 200 feet of one another and are pollinated by the wind.   The critical aspect is matching up trees.  Some trees make pollen earlier than they are receptive to receive it which prevents self pollination.  Therefore, some trees make pollen either early or late and are receptive either early or late.  Cultivars that release pollen before their stigmas are receptive are protandrous (1) and those that are receptive before pollen release are protogynous (2).  These numbers are attached to the recommended varieties above.  For pollination a (1) and a (2) should be planted within the recommended distance.

Persimmon – These are native, tough trees, and require minimal pruning.  Don’t plant adjacent to traffic areas.  There are many good varieties to choose from.  The fruit is delicious when ripe.

Varieties – Early Golden, Ruby, Yates, Meader, Miller, Golden Supreme, and others

Pollination – Needs a male tree in the vicinity.  There seem to be a good distribution of trees in the area and a male may not need to be intentionally planted.

Plums –  The two pests the will ruin your plum prize are peach borer that devours the cambium of the tree below grade and plum curculio which cause fruit to drop before ripening. Kaolin clay has been used to succesfully to ward off the latter. Diseases such as brown rot and black knot are also to be contended with. Consider this to be a high maintenance tree. With that said, growing varieties that ripen earlier like Oblinaja means less time and money spent trying to keep the pests and critters off your plums.  Plums are divided into four categories – European plums (prunus domestica – some are good for drying/prunes), Asian plums, Hybrids (usually a mix of native American and Asian species), and Species (such as our local common American plum, prunus Americana).   All of these plums will survive here with care or luck.  Late spring frosts may eliminate a crop every once and a while.  Your selection does not need to be limited to this list.

European plums – Varieties include:  Green Gage, Mount Royal, President, Stanley, Italian prune plum

Hybrid plums –    Varieties include:  Alderman, Gracious, Kaga, Kahinta, La Crescent, Pembina, Percy’s, Superior, Tecumseh, Toka, Underwood, Waneta, Oblinaja, Beauty

Asian plums –  Varieties include:  Shiro, Santa Rosa

Species plums – Prunus Americana,


Figs in Kansas? Yes it can be done!
Figs in Kansas? Yes it can be done!