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THE NEED FOR CROSS POLLINATION
Many fruit trees require a tree of another variety that blooms at the same time to be planted nearby as a cross pollinator. Not all yards have room for this.
I have found that the good old fashioned “Bartlett” Pear tree will bear fruit prodigiously without a pollinator. (My own tree bore so heavily that it became an absolutenuisance!)
“Montmorency” Cherry also does not need a cross pollinator, and has the most wonderful, pure cherry flavor. It is a tart (pie) cherry, but it is not so sour that you can’t eat them fresh. Dried tart cherries can be used in place of raisins in cooking, and many people prefer the taste.
I have an antique apple tree in my yard called “Grimes Golden.” It is sweet and spicy and just bursting with juice, and it produces more fruit than I can use without having a neighbor planted near it. It is excellent for cooking as well as fresh eating.
The “Green Gage” Plum will produce plenty of fruit with just one tree and is ideal to can, freeze, or make plum honey. More than once, I’ve stood at the tree and made a meal on the sweet, ripe fruit.
DISTANCE BETWEEN TREES FOR ADEQUATE POLLINATION
Opinions vary on the required distance between pollinators. Some tell me that a fruit tree should not be more than 200 feet away from a suitable pollinator.
I have heard others say its 200 feet maximum for pear trees and 100 feet apart for apple trees. I disagree since too much depends on the way the wind blows to carry the pollen in the right direction.
Many people don’t have property lots that are that big, and trying to depend on your next door neighbor’s tree to pollinate your own tree is folly.
My preference is for a maximum of 50 feet apart. A bee that collects pollen from your neighbor’s tree might visit several other trees and plants before it reaches your own, and rub off most of the needed pollen. Or it may fly in the opposite direction.
Drive around the neighborhood to see if nearby gardens have fruit trees that are close enough to pollinate yours effectively. This might work while you are getting started, but a tree that is there now might be chopped down at some point.
It’s much better to plant your own pollinator. Also check for plants and trees in the vicinity that may create a problem in your garden, such as walnut trees or conifers, or even too much shade.
Finally, Dwarf trees are ideal if you need cross pollination. Nevertheless, if your lawn space is limited but you still require a lot of fruit, you could plant one Standard sized tree and a Dwarf tree of a different variety as a pollinator.