It seems as if everyone is interested in growing fruiting trees this year, but aren’t sure about pollination. For starters, the conditions that work against fruit production are as follows; cool, rainy weather conditions during flowering season, old and unproductive trees that do not flower (apple/pear trees life span is 40 years then need to be replaced), apples perform biennially with a great crop one year and not much the next, and lack of pollinating insects (I encourage you to plant insect attractors such as borage, Monarda, Marigolds, Pansies, Euphorbia, Trollius, and Arabis.)
Apples (malus) and Pears (pyrus)
Both apples and pears require a second tree for cross-pollination, ideally within 500 feet. In most prairie cities and towns of 7500 or more, a single tree in a yard will probably suffice. To be safe, a second (alternate variety) is suggested. You should try and plant different varieties when it comes to apples and pears for an ideal crop. If you only have a small space consider purchasing a combination tree where four or more varieties have be grafted on to the same tree. Also, pears can cross pollinate with apples as long as both trees bloom at the same time.
Cherries and Plums (prunus)
Sour cherries are self-pollinating so only one tree is needed for fruit production. We often carry quite a few different varieties of these types of cherries such as Evans, and the romance series (Cupid, Valentine, Juliet, Romeo). They are all great tasting cherries with high sugar content and are prairie hardy.
For edible, prairie hardy Plums to cross pollinate and bear fruit, it is essential that the varieties bloom at the same time. Varieties that bloom mid-season will cross pollinate both early and late blooming varieties, as well as other mid-season bloomers. Chokecherries will also aid in cross pollination.
Grapes are self-pollinating. Cross pollination is not essential, but some hybrids may have non-viable pollen. Because of this, it is recommended to plant 2 or more varieties. Remove all suckers from the base of the leaves after the end of June. Remove ends of canes 2 to 3 leaves past the last fruit cluster. Also prune out and remove all non-producing canes.
Blueberries are self-pollinating, but 2 or more varieties will result in a better yield and larger berries.
Currants and Gooseberries (ribes)
Currants and gooseberries are self-pollinating. Excellent fruit production can be obtained with just one plant. If currants are grown near gooseberries, however, yields can be even better!
Strawberries (fragaria), Raspberries (rubus) and Saskatoons (amelanchier)
Strawberries, raspberries and saskatoons are all self-pollinating. Only one plant is actually required and they do not cross-pollinate each other.
Generally, they are self-pollinating plants. However, it has been found that planting one Polar Jewel variety among Tundra and Borealis will greatly increase fruit production.
I hope this helps and encourages you to try some different fruit producers, as there is nothing like fresh picked apple pie and preserves.
Author: Colleen Tanner