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FAQs: When should I expect to harvest the first fruit from my new fruit tree/berries?

English: Fruit on display at La Boqueria marke...

English: Fruit on display at La Boqueria market in Barcelona. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When should I expect to harvest the first fruit from my new fruit tree? Our standard answer is 2-3 years to first fruit. In some cases your trees may arrive with flower buds and be apparently ready to produce fruit. It is best, however, to remove any fruit that sets in the first two years. This allows the plant to focus its available energy on establishing a strong root system, trunk, and primary branches. After two years fruit trees are generally established well enough to continue growing strong while producing a moderate crop of fruit. Expect your tree to need another 2-3 years to produce heavier crops.

There are, of course, some exceptions. Newly planted fruit trees that are allowed to mature fruit in their first year might not initiate fruit buds again for several years, as they make up for the excessive energy drain making fruit in that first year. Small fruited cherries and plums can produce small crops right away without compromising growth, thin the fruit if a lot of fruit sets. Finicky persimmons may start fruiting between 3 and 7 years after planting, or more. To encourage earlier production in your persimmon feed your tree with a fertilizer that is high in Nitrogen and Iron the first few years. If you live near enough to Raintree Nursery you could also consider taking home more mature ready to bear fruit trees we offer each year. Allow the trees to re-establish for one year and they will be ready to produce nice crops of fruit for you.

How about first fruit for berries? Floricane blackberries and raspberries produce fruit in the second growing season of the cane; primocane berries produce fruit in the fall of the first growing season of the cane. It will take 2-3 years for the root system to be fully established and your planting ready to produce full crops.

Blueberries tend to be slow growing plants, again, 2-3 years is a reasonable time expectation to harvest good quantities, with full production needing another 2-4 years. There will often be some berry production in the first year, thin the fruit if a lot of fruit set, otherwise it is OK to allow those fruit to mature.

Day-neutral (everbearing) Strawberries will produce a good crop the first year when planted early enough to establish the roots, generally by mid-April. Remove blossoms until you have 3-5 mature leaves on the plant, then you can allow fruit to set. June-bearing varieties will also bloom in the first year. Remove those blossoms and position runners to fill in your row and you will be rewarded with a heavy crop in the second year.

Unusual Fruits and Berries, such as goumi, goji, Sea Buckthorn, currants, gooseberries, and Blue Honeysuckle tend to start producing fruit at 2-3 years, or when the plants are established.

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About Theresa Knutsen

Theresa Knutsen is a horticulturist and writes the Raintree Nursery newsletter "Growing Tips." Email: theresa@raintreenursery.com.

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