Spread­ing the pollen love

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - HOME - Tino Carnevale

THOSE of you that have vis­ited a plant nurs­ery in the past month or so will have no­ticed the small for­est of sticks that is this sea­son’s bare- rooted fruit­ing trees and shrubs.

With ev­ery­thing you have to take into ac­count when se­lect­ing your fruit trees it’s un­der­stand­able that people can be­come openly fear­ful when it comes to se­lect­ing the right pollinator.

The good news is it’s not all that com­pli­cated and in many cases not nec­es­sary at all.

Pol­li­na­tion is that mag­i­cal plant love process, the end re­sult of which pro­vides us with de­li­cious juicy fruit.

Fruit trees use many tools to spread their pollen such as wind and birds but by far the main one is the hum­ble bee.

Al­bert Ein­stein once said, “If the bee dis­ap­peared off the sur­face of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pol­li­na­tion, no more plants, no more an­i­mals, no more man.”

Some of the avail­able fruit trees such as peaches and apri­cots are self- fer­tile, mean­ing they will set fruit on their own with­out the help of an­other tree.

Many tree species such as ap­ples, pears, cher­ries and plums will need a part­ner tree to cross- pol­li­nate.

At the risk of sound­ing like a “where do ba­bies come from?” dis­cus­sion – crosspol­li­na­tion hap­pens when two trees that are fl ow­er­ing at the same time and of the same species but of a dif­fer­ent va­ri­ety ex­change pollen.

There is an idea that there is only one or a cou­ple of exclusive va­ri­eties that will crosspol­li­nate your tree. This is in part right, the chances of syn­chro­nised fl ow­er­ing be­tween cer­tain va­ri­eties is cer­tainly more reg­u­lar from year to year.

I sup­pose my prob­lem with this idea is that trees do not nec­es­sar­ily al­ways fl ower at the same time each year so there can be a lot of cross over from dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties that may not be con­sid­ered as com­pat­i­ble pol­li­na­tors.

Stresses and the cli­mate can af­fect the tim­ing of a tree’s blos­som so trees that have been cross- pol­li­nat­ing quite hap­pily for years can sud­denly have a year where their fl ow­ers don’t open at the same time so there is no or very lit­tle fruit set.

If you have a small gar­den and only have space for one tree and you are want­ing a va­ri­ety of fruit that needs a pollinator then it is still pos­si­ble to have your cake and eat it too.

There are multi- grafted trees usu­ally with two to three va­ri­eties that will pol­li­nate each other on the one tree.

Train­ing meth­ods such as es­palier, cor­dons

Pol­li­na­tion is that mag­i­cal plant love process, the end re­sult of which pro­vides us with de­li­cious juicy fruit

and fans mean that you can have two trees in the space of one. It is also worth check­ing to see what other fruit trees are in and around your neigh­bour­hood be­cause there is an ex­tremely high chance that there will be at least one com­pat­i­ble va­ri­ety.

AP­PLES

All ap­ples re­quire some cross pol­li­na­tion for good fruit set, there are some va­ri­eties that are con­sid­ered self fer­tile like the Jonathan and red Fuji but even they will pro­duce big­ger crops more reg­u­larly with the aid of an­other tree.

There are a few va­ri­eties that are in­com­pat­i­ble like a Golden De­li­cious will not pol­li­nate a Gala. Some pop­u­lar va­ri­eties like the Mutsu and the Jon­agold are termed triploid which means they pro­duce only ster­ile pollen.

One of the best pol­li­na­tors for ap­ples is the crab ap­ple as not only can their fruit be crafted into a sublime jelly but they also put on the most mag­nifi cent au­tumn dis­play.

PEARS

Pears are fun­da­men­tally self ster­ile so they are a fruit type that is defi nitely in need of a pollinator. The two best va­ri­eties avail­able as pol­li­na­tors would have to be the Beurre Bosc and the Wil­liams.

PLUMS

The plum va­ri­eties avail­able are split into two cat­e­gories, the large red fruited Ja­panese plums and the smaller pur­ple Euro­pean plums. The two cat­e­gories are not com­pat­i­ble all, the Ja­panese plums pol­li­nate Ja­panese plums and all the Euro­pean plums pol­li­nate them­selves. The Santa Rosa plum is a par­tially self- fer­tile Ja­panese plum and makes a great pollinator as does the Dam­son and su­gar plum for the Euro­pean va­ri­eties.

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