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How Many Years Until Your Tree Bears Fruit?

by Stark Bro's on 04/11/2011
Fresh-Picked Apple

There’s an old proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

In a culture that is largely inundated with instant gratification, the natural process of growing fruit trees may seem like an eternity. It’s not uncommon for people to list time as one of their top reasons for not growing food — time that has less to do with planting and more to do with waiting; however, any gardener will remind you that anything worth doing is worth waiting for.

So, on average, how long is it before you should expect to see fruit from your newly planted trees? Take a look.

Stark Bro’s Fruit Trees – Years Until Fruit

Stark Bro’s Trees are 1-2 years old when shipped. “Years Until Fruit” begins counting after the trees are transplanted into your growing space.

Fruit Tree Type Years Until Fruit
Apple Trees 2-5 years
Apricot Trees 2-5 years
Banana Plants 2-3 years
Cherry Trees (sour) 3-5 years
Cherry Trees (sweet) 4-7 years
Citrus Trees 1-2 years
Fig Trees 1-2 years
Mulberry Trees 2-3 years
Nectarine Trees 2-4 years
Olive Trees 2-3 years
Pawpaw Trees 5-7 years
Peach Trees 2-4 years
Pear Trees 4-6 years
Persimmon Trees 3-4 years
Plum Trees 3-6 years

Well what do you think? Are the time-frames about what you expected? Longer? Shorter? You will find that fruit trees like applesapricotsnectarines, and peaches are the most viable solutions for short-term home owners — increasing property value — and a treat to leave for the next occupants! Those who can grow citrus trees comfortably, well, you’ve got it good — fresh-squeezed orange juice in the morning and lemonade in the summer! For us colder-zoned folks, citrus trees can be grown in containers and brought inside over the winter, should we want to try our hand at growing these tasty fruits.

Hitting the top of the waiting list are sweet cherries and pawpaws. These edibles require a longer-term commitment, so it’s best to get these started right away so that you can enjoy the edibles you love as soon as possible! While they’re growing, these trees make for some beautiful landscape additions.

Find how many years until berry plants fruit here »

Topics → Planting & Growing, Tips

54 Comments

  1. Timothy H permalink

    You were literally getting a list together!! I didn’t know you were actually going to make this post just in answer to my question. Thank for the fast response!!

    • Meg permalink

      You are so welcome, Timothy — it was a great question & useful information for folks to reference! ;)

  2. Cathleen permalink

    In 2004 we planted an orange tree. When we purchased it, there was fruit on it. Seven years later, we have had no fruit! There were a few blossoms there last month and we were shocked! What are we doing wrong?

    • Meg permalink

      Hi Cathleen! I’m sorry for my delayed reply. If the orange tree had fruit when you purchased it, can I assume you did not purchase it from us? (We typically ship trees prior to their fruit-bearing years.) The main thing I’m thinking of is pollination: do you see bees around, pollinating when your tree has blossoms?

      Another thought, if you haven’t seen blossoms every year– have you been fertilizing the tree? Nitrogen will promote green growth (great way to give a tree a good head-start), but it doesn’t aid in bloom production. Too much nitrogen in the soil can keep a tree bloom-less.

      • Suzy Tyler permalink

        A sucker below the graft may have over taken the primary tree. They grow vigorously and seldom produce fruit. If they do produce, the fruit is often inedible.

  3. Why don’t you offer non-dwarf fruit trees? I have lots of space and would prefer something other than dwarf or semi-dwarf, but is there some disadvantage to non-dwarf trees? Or is there just no market for them anymore with the suburban backyard grower? Can a mature non-dwarf be expected to outproduce a semi-dwarf annually? By roughly how much?

    • Meg permalink

      Oh, we do have standard-size trees! Just not for every fruit type. :) Part of that is because of lack of interest – the semi-dwarfs produce a plethora of fruit, & the pruning/maintenance of the slightly smaller tree is more manageable without needing risky equipment. On average, a semi-dwarf will still grow to be around 80% of a standard tree.

  4. Tyler permalink

    Do these time frames apply to supreme trees or just the non-supreme trees? How much older are the supreme trees than the non-supreme? Thanks for the helpful post, it will help me to prioritize my next order.

    • Meg permalink

      Hi Tyler! The supremes are actually the same age as our regular trees (about 2 years), they are just the most vigorous growers in our crop. This fruit-bearing timeframe leaves a few years difference for each type of fruit, so a supreme apple tree might bear at the 2-3 year mark (being a more vigorous variety), whereas a non-supreme might bear at the 4-5 year mark. All numbers are acceptable for apples, & I can’t guarantee that a supreme *will* produce sooner, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they did. :) Does that help?

  5. Beverley Fonzi permalink

    We had to re-plant our 1830 apple tree orchard. Last year, all the heirloom apple trees grew great, this spring, they took the hard winter and all are doing great, we didn’t have to baby sit them, they are doing so well. You should be as proud of them as we are. We grow organic and toxic sprays are not on our agenda. Cayenne pepper and a bit of dish soap cures coddeling moths etc. And like the song “big yellow taxi” leave me the birds and the bees. Mix also is used on potatoes and other buggie prone veggies.

    • Beverley, that sounds wonderful. We are always proud when our friends are proud of their success! We also love to see photos if you ever want to really show off your orchard. :)

    • Minako Sargent Fukuda permalink

      can I please have this receipe. I don’t spray being a pic and eat, so I found out in Australia were I live if you plant dock under stonefruit it controls leaf curl,. with grapes plant geranium with it, no eaten leafs,both kind of geraniums, zaggerd leaf and usual leaf ones, thank you ,Minako sargent fukuda

  6. Richard Graham permalink

    I have 6 Apple and 2 Peach trees coming up on 3 years in the ground here this coming Spring 2012, am I to expect fruit this coming year should I get the bushel baskets dusted off and ready to fill, after 3 years I can’t wait, just wish I had set out trees years earlier, I am 35 miles from your Nursery so it is no problem for me to run down to your store and get what I need, we did the tree spikes fertilizer spring and fall this last year, guess I will have to start spraying next year,,,,,,,Richard

    • I would start dusting off the bushel baskets if I were you, Richard! If everything goes in your favor (weather, pollination, etc.) your fruit trees may very well start producing fruit for you this year. Be careful not to let them over-bear so that ideal quality and ripeness are achieved! :)

  7. Greg permalink

    I’ve learned not to expect too much out of the first couple of years that the trees start producing. Loads of blooms but a handful of apples, the same with almonds. Each year the trees seem to actually retain more through to harvest. Still waiting on my other nut trees. pecan=7 years and counting, english walnut=5 years and counting.

    • Hi Greg! Your observations are pretty accurate for fruiting plants/trees in general. As they grow older and mature, they are better able to produce and retain more fruit to harvesting times. It is highly recommended that you help your young trees and plants along by thinning the fruit so that they have the energy to bear more in the future. Thank you for sharing your experience! :)

  8. Stacey Couch permalink

    Wonderful information. I just moved to a new farm last year and am starting the garden this year. This reminds me to get those fruit trees NOW!

    • Hello Stacey! One of my favorite proverbs is this: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.

      You have the right idea; good luck with your new garden space! :)

  9. Lenne' Hunt permalink

    I purchased the mini citrus trees from from you 5-6 years ago (lemon, lime, valencia, banana, and the olive). While the lemon and the olive have already fruited, the lime, valencia and banana haven’t even attempted to flower. The plants look really good – are 5 (banana) to 7 feet tall (orange and lime) with good foliage and branching. Any suggestions? I’m in zone 7B and the trees winter over in my house, then move outside in the spring. Thanks!

    • Hello Lenné! It is good to hear your lemon and olive are thriving for you. With the rest (key lime, Valencia orange, and banana) it could be something like a nutrient-deficiency issue. Each individual tree has its own set of requirements, and a lot of the time if blooming doesn’t occur it is because the trees are taking in a lot of nitrogen. Nitrogen helps put on growth like branching, leaves, and height but doesn’t necessarily encourage the tree to bloom.

      You might try adjusting back any fertilizer they have been getting to find the right balance. Another idea is to get their soil tested so that you know if they are lacking any other nutrients you can address this all at once. Your local garden center should have soil-testing kits, and your county extension agent should be able to provide this service for you if you would prefer. Keep us posted! :)

  10. In the second season of my peach trees, they bore delicious and abundant peaches, the only problem was they were only 1 1/2′ round. is this normal for new trees?

    • Great question, TJ! This is normal for many types of fruit trees, and it happens when they try to overbear. What you can do to prevent this (or worse, fruit dropping off your tree) is thin the fruit when it’s formed on your tree. You can do this by pinching off fruit so that there are 3-4 inches between fruit forming along the branches. You will also want to break up any clusters. Then, your tree can put its energy into producing fewer bigger fruits instead of many smaller fruits. :)

  11. I purchased an apple tree (golden delicious) and All in one Almond, both from Stark Bros. of course… this blog post is extremely helpful … because if my kids ask me one more time when they can pick an apple I am going to scream :-)

    • Haha, I feel for you, Mike! It’s encouraging that your kids are so excited about growing their own fruit and nuts though. Good job. ;)

  12. Richard Graham permalink

    Sarah,
    I was so surprised to see my name and what I had wrote you last month, I was down at Louisiana and in your Nursery just a couple weeks ago, I got 2 Pear trees a Asian, and a Bartlett and a Wolf River apple tree, them one pound apples will soon fill the old basket up, anyway got them all planted the next day, and they have leafed out and really looking healthy as all my other trees, nice to have Grandkids to help, making a farmer out of them, Richard

    • That’s so great, Richard! I wish I had farming family to get me involved when I was much younger — it’s so rewarding nowadays to grow your own and know where your food comes from. :)

  13. Charles Oliver permalink

    I live in a highly soil errosive area and have mostly reddish to pink clay. What type of soil is needed to grow your thin shelled Stark Black Gem Walnut?

    • Hi Charles! The Stark® Black Gem® Walnut prefers to be grown in a well-drained soil, ideally loam. I do know that many black walnut trees around here (they also grow wild here in Missouri) don’t mind growing in clay-type soils, but to get your young tree off to a good start, the well-drained requirement is a must.

  14. Kita permalink

    Hi, I am very interested in purchasing some fruit & nut trees to start my own garden/ farm on my newly acquired land. I live in the 8A zone, I really would like to know what tips & advice you have to help aiding in the growth of the plants and what plants you would recommend for my area. THANKS!

    • Hi Kita! I applaud your interest in growing your own fruit and nut trees — it’s an exciting venture! I hope this response doesn’t seem overwhelming, but I wanted to provide you with some of the resources we have to get you started.

      A good place to start is with debunking some myths you might have already heard or might hear along the way. We addressed some of the more common ones here: Weeding Out Common Growing Myths.

      It’s useful to know about the Fruit Tree Sizes available so that you may choose what works best for you.

      Many people ask us “How many years until [insert tree here] bears fruit?” so it might help to read about some of the fruit and nut trees’ years to bear so you know what to expect before making any decisions.

      Once you have that information to work with, the next step is finding what you should be Planting In your Zone. I know you’re in a zone 8A so be sure that the Fruit Trees and Nut Trees you choose are recommended to grow in zone 8. Each product conveniently mentions the zone range recommended for your growing success!

      Something else to consider is the root system and the soil your new trees will be planted in. We address some of the things you should know in our article, The Importance of Roots, but you might also consider contacting your Cooperative Extension Office to see if they have any specific advice for your area that you should know about. They will also perform soil tests for a small fee.

      You should also understand about The Importance of Fruit Tree Pollination, since most fruit and nut trees require another variety of the same fruit/nut so that pollination may take place and fruit is produced.

      Once you have decided on what you’d like to plant, before your trees arrive, you should make a “Planting Fruit Trees plan”, and watch our video on How To Dig a Perfect Planting Hole to help get you started.

      Winter can be a challenging time of year for young trees, so we also have some tips on Preparing Trees & Plants for Winter to help you and your dormant trees get through it.

      • Kita permalink

        Thanks so much for that advice! It’s very informative, a great way to get me started. I look forward to how this process will unfold.

  15. Valerie permalink

    Are the time frames based on a particular size? What if I buy one this size and plant this week in Dallas, TX? Just moved to an established neighborhood with super mature everything (house built in 1969), so I’m sure we’ll get plenty of buggage (bees, hummingbirds, etc.).

    http://www.progressivepioneer.com/.a/6a01156f204526970c0134804c4a12970c-800wi

    *Special thanks to ProgressivePioneer.com for me snagging their photo. ;o)

    • They are based on the Stark Bro’s trees we ship, Valerie!

      *Stark Bro’s Trees are 1-2 years old when shipped. “Years to Bear Fruit” begins counting after the trees are transplanted (into your yard!).

      I hope this helps you estimate depending on the maturity of the older tree you plant there. Love the photo, by the way! :)

      • Valerie permalink

        Thanks for the quick reply. I looked on your site and didn’t find a photo of what a 1-2 year old tree looks like. I also don’t know how old the tree in the photo is (it’s not mine). I also don’t know how old the trees at Home Depot are, I just know what they look like. They look the same size as the photo and have many buds ready to bloom. Is it possible to tell approximately how old the tree in the photo is? Or get a photo of what you sell? Thanks!

        • We have a blog post about stages of growth of an apple tree, with photos, here: http://www.starkbros.com/blog/stages-of-apple-tree-growth/ — this should help give you an idea of what our trees look like when you plant them and what they will look like in the future.

          It’s best to ask the source: Even if you’re getting your trees from a big box store like Home Depot, you can try asking the garden center person there if they know how old/mature the trees are. It would be difficult to tell much from a photo, since we don’t know anything else about the trees.

          Happy planting, Valerie! :)

  16. Susan Paolo permalink

    I have ordered some cherry trees and pecan trees, in addition to blueberry bushes and strawberry plants. I am fortunate to have a 40 acre space to play with, and I’m thinking about the best place to plant them. For convenience to water supply and ease of harvest, it would be nice to have them close to the house. But I’m wondering if this will draw the critters — mice, raccoon, deer, etc. to hang out close to the house where they could create some other trouble. Since I have some flexibility about where to plant, how far from the living space / ornamental gardens is recommended?

    I also ordered a mulberry tree as a ‘distraction’ for the birds. How many years until it fruits, and how far should it be from the other fruit-bearers?

    Thanks. I’m having fun dreaming of my future bounty!

    • Trees that provide a source of food for wildlife will naturally draw them in. If you want to have your fruit trees nearer to your house for ease of care, you might want to at least plant the mulberry trees further away to attract the critters. These critters will visit where the food is, so as far away as what makes you comfortable is the best way to go. Deer around here will actually pass several types of fruit and nut trees to browse the leaves of the mulberry trees we grow. ;)

      That being said, you should consider protecting the young mulberry trees (fence around them) so that they are able to grow to be your protector trees despite the wildlife. The mulberry will take about 2-3 years after you plant them to start fruiting.

  17. Jason permalink

    I live in the North Carolina Piedmont on the border of zones 7b and 8. What heat-resistant apple trees would you suggest for my area? We have 90F+ temps for two or more months of the year and various pests/diseases. thanks

  18. Caryl Safford permalink

    I would love to order a couple of the Montmorency cherry trees you current have at sale price, but I need to know how they do around Black Walnut trees. Our 1 1/3 acre lot is lousy with them!
    Thanks,

    • Black walnuts are wonderful, but plants and trees can struggle around the walnut tree’s territorial root system. Sour cherries, like the Stark® Montmorency Pie Cherry, are considered “tolerant” of the juglone toxin produced by black walnut tree roots. (find this information and more here: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/info_walnut_toxicity.htm)

      We would still suggest planting out of the range of these roots if possible. I hope this helps, Caryl! :)

  19. Sam permalink

    I am looking for a dwarf lemon tree that is very productive (and hopefully sooner than later) as our old one just got bulldozed as part of a remodel project :-(
    I live in los angeles close to the beach. Thanks for any advice.

    • The variety that we carry is called the Dwarf Meyer Lemon tree, which is fairly productive once it gets established and matures. Many people who grow it, myself included, have to keep it in pots and move it indoors for the winter (which often means pollinating it by hand if it is blooming during this time) but where you are in California should allow you to grow this plant outdoors year-round!

      Unfortunately, California also has restrictions on shipping most citrus trees into the state, so you might have your best luck shopping locally. We recommend giving the Meyer Lemon a try, but your local grower/supplier might have an even better variety for you there! :)

  20. Marge permalink

    I was told that peach trees have to be planted with another tree nearby (as in male/female) We just got out first house and planted one tree. Can we could on it to produce fruit?
    Thank you.

    • It depends on the variety of peach you are growing whether or not it needs a pollinator growing nearby. Some varieties are not going to produce fruit by themselves, like our Stark® Hal-Berta Giant™ Peach. *Most* peach trees are self-pollinating and won’t require another variety growing nearby to produce fruit.

  21. Bruce permalink

    Hello,
    Our land in northern middle Tennessee has an area that never lacks for water. In fact,there is enough water in the soil that crawdads make burrows there. Poplars and Sycamores seem to thrive well there. I have hear that apple trees do better in well drained soils. It seems with the water, this would be a great area to produce something. I am interested in knowing fruits, nuts, berries that would do well here. Preferably production that is good for preserving.

    We have some well drained land as well. There are a number of existing Black Walnut trees here that seem to be thriving. We cleared an overgrown area and found a lone apple tree that was overgrown with vines. After clearing everything away from it, it return to us almost two bushels of apples, even though there isn’t an apple tree or any fruit tree in any direction I know of. I didn’t believe that single apple trees would produce in that situation.

    Can you speak to what trees might do well in that situation? Maybe how apples, peaches, mulberries, nut trees, etc might do?

    I appreciate your thoughts!!!
    Best regards,
    Bruce

    • Black walnut trees were the nut trees I had in mind when you described your soil environment, but it sounds like you already have some there, Bruce!

      Apple, peach, and mulberry trees can all be more tolerant of “wet feet”, or standing water, around their roots than sweet cherries, for example, but it’s better if the water drains away over time. There are root diseases like phytophthora that develop in poorly-drained, wet soils that can be detrimental to affected trees.

      Even berry plants like cranberry and lingonberry are tolerant of “boglike” wet soils, but they have a better chance at survival if they have time to be able to become established before the water comes.

      What you might consider is planting water-loving shade trees like willow trees, and the nut trees of your choice, where the wet soil is, and save the more ideal cleared land for your fruit and berry production!

  22. Karen permalink

    I just planted my three dwarfs trees. I read all of these comments, and I found them to be very helpful! Thank you! Regarding the timeframes, is this chart for both dwarf and standard varieties? I assume the dwarf bear fruit sooner??

    • Thank you for the compliments, Karen :)

      And that’s right! Dwarf fruit trees tend to reach maturity sooner than their larger counterparts, so they are often more likely to bear on the early end of the “years to bear” spectrum.

  23. Dennis Owens permalink

    In the 1990s I planted my first Sweetheart apricot tree with two more trees planted in subsequent years. The first tree is now on its last legs, so to speak, so I need to replace it with a tree other than The Sweetheart variety, mainly because the neighborhood squirrels discovered that the nut inside the pit is edible. What variety do you recommend as a replacement. I am assuming that the squirrels will not go for the other varieties.

    • It’s been my experience, and the general consensus, that squirrels will go for pretty much any fruit, especially if it’s something you want for yourself! When it’s not the edible kernel they’re after, they’ll gladly take the fruit for the moisture to stay hydrated instead.

      With that in mind you can put nets over your fruit trees after they’ve bloomed to try to deter squirrels, and you might ask your local garden center or local growers what they do to fight off squirrels.

      So, really, you can plant any variety of apricot that interests you to replace your Sweetheart. Two options I’d recommend are Goldcot Apricot because it’s cold-hardy, which you may not need if you live in a warm zone, or Harglow Apricot for its disease-resistance — makes for an easy-care tree!

  24. Heather Carlsen permalink

    I thought I had seen a blog post about the average yields of dwarf trees. It is my goal to grow all of our own fruits and vegetables for the year, and preserve by canning, drying and freezing. But it is hard to gauge how many trees I will need to meet this goal. And understandably, I don’t want to wait until the trees I have are producing fruit only to find that I needed another couple trees. Is there data that you have that would help me to estimate how much fruit I could expect (under ideal conditions of course) per plant from the various trees and brambles that I have? I was sure I had seen this information somewhere, you may be able to just link me back to it. Either way, I have dwarf apples, pears, peaches, plums, and cherries. I also have one semi-dwarf cherry, and raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry plants. Thanks!

    • I’m not sure that blog post exists, at least not here at Stark Bro’s — but it’s a great idea!

      I can provide a general reference here, as long as you don’t mind approximations that may vary depending on individual variety, maturity, year, environment, weather, etc. :)

      • Dwarf apple trees yield approximately 5-6 bushels
      • Dwarf pear trees yield approximately 6-8 bushels
      • Dwarf peach trees yield approximately 3-4 bushels
      • Dwarf (japanese) plum trees yield approximately 3-4 bushels (dwarf european plums yield approximately .5-1 bushel)
      • Dwarf (sweet) cherry trees yield approximately 8-10 gallons (dwarf pie cherries yield approximately 3-5 gallons)
      • Semi-dwarf (sweet) cherry trees yield approximately 10-15 gallons (semi-dwarf pie cherries yield approximately 12-18 gallons)
      • Raspberry plants yield approximately 2-6 quarts
      • Blackberry plants yield approximately 1-2 quarts (about 4-8 lbs)
      • Blueberry plants yield approximately 3-8 quarts (3-12 lbs)

      Home orchardists find that (at fruit-bearing maturity) 2 fruit trees of each type should satisfy a family, but it’s not a bad idea to plant more if you have the space. You can always can or share the surplus! ;)

      Sometimes it’s a little harder to gauge how many small-fruit plants will provide for a family, so resources suggest (for a family of 5):

      • 4-5 raspberry plants per person
      • 3-4 blackberry plants per person
      • 2 blueberry plants per person

      You can obviously adjust this depending on your space and also your family’s tastes, but I hope this helps!

      I would also recommend contacting your local county Extension and seeing if they have any other recommendations for your plan. They will at least be able to provide a soil sample test so you know that your location is best for a thriving and productive home orchard. Find the contact information for your county Extension here: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/

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