Every year at the Clinton Conservation District’s annual tree sale, there are a variety of options of fruit trees that can bring color, habitat, and aesthetics to your backyard. The fruit trees offered this year are all semi-dwarf meaning they will be 12-15 feet tall and wide at maturity. Like all fruit trees, they may require pruning.
Cedar waxwings enjoying Manchurian crabapples in the winter.
Habitat Trees: Habitat trees can be planted on large acreage or in a backyard set up. They provide 2 of the 4 basic needs for wildlife: shelter and food. Crabapple and persimmon fruits are prime food for white-tailed deer; and the fruit holds to the tree into the winter so food is available later into the season. Common apple (Malus domestica), is a domesticated wild apple tree. It adapts well to a variety of sites in the Michigan weather and landscape. If planted in a backyard and tended to, it will produce fruit closer to a cultivated apple. The fruit can be picked and enjoyed. If this tree is planted in a field, fencerow, or somewhere where it will be forgotten, it will grow like a crabapple tree. The fruit will be smaller, and the tree will bush out (making it better for wildlife but less aesthetically pleasing to someone who keeps a tidy yard.)
Fruit Bearing Trees: Fruit bearing trees are essential to any homestead. There is also nothing better than fresh, in-season fruit picked in your own backyard. Fruit can be sold, given away, as well as frozen or canned. Make sure to be aware if your tree will need another tree to pollinate with. In general, apples need another apple to pollinate with (or crabapple). Generally, cherries pollinate themselves, and sweet and tart cherries will not pollinate each other. Peach and pear trees will self-pollinate but will bear more fruit with others nearby.
A fresh cherry pie.
Fuji Aztec Apple
Dabinett Cider Apple
Early Redhaven Peach
By: Katie Hafner, NFWF Soil Conservationist