I am starting a fruit orchard on 11 acres of land in zone 8a. The soil is blackland prairie which is a very nutrient rich clay normally used for crops like corn. I definitely am not going to ammend the soil and risk the "clay pot" effect. I will give it compost the second season and nitrogen fixing cover crops. I will be keeping the irrigation to a minimum so nothing that needs to be watered more than once a week. There will be no man made fertilizers. I really want some recommendations as I am going to plant a little bit of everything out there.
Here is what I plan already. Add to my list if you think it will survive and possibly fruit. Exotics and alternative food crops are especially wanted.
You might be able to get away with some citrus. Mandarine orange or tangerines. Also kumquats and lowquats would work I think. I don't see apples on your list and I'm sure you could find one that would work. I would say peaches too.
Almonds, with few exceptions, need a cross pollinizer. They bloom very early, need well drained loamy soil, and low humidity. Chances are you will lose the blooms or fruit to freezing weather since they are one of the first fruit trees to bloom. Bacterial leaf drop will cause the leaves to drop prematurely.
You might contact AgriLife( Cooperative Extension) to find out how many chill hours your property averages. You will probably have to go with low chill hours fruit producers. Low chill apples, peaches, nectarines, plums, and the new low chill hour cherries would work wll. With the cherries you would have to make sure that you have the correct root stock because cherries are grafted on root stock meant for sandy soil or clay soil. This also has to do will nematode problems. I've purchased trees from this nursery and was very pleased with the plants. http://www.baylaurelnursery.com/catalog/lowChillVarieties.html
You will have to be careful with your choices. If the trees bloom before your last frost date, you won't get fruit. My last frost date is supposed to be the first week in March, but in years such as the winters of 2005 and 2006 when I had a late frost, I lose all my peaches, plums and pluots. I shared loads of peaches and a few pluots (new trees) with the squirrels this year. I lost my apple trees to grasshoppers. Grasshoppers love the leaves as well as the tender bark on new apple trees.
Flying dragon root stock is not recommended for Texas because of our alkaline soils. Now if you could find a naturally neutral or slightly acidic patch, but the only places you would find those conditions would be in far east Rexas or parts of the Post Oak Savanna areas.
Before you plant citrus you might want to check the latest information for your area regarding the citrus yellowing disease. I understand it has been detected right at the southwest border with Mexico and it is in Florida. I cannot remember the scientific name of the disease, homulongmong or something like that, but it is terminally bad. Nursery stock growers in our area are being told that they can now only grow in covered facilities. And home growers are being advised not to plant citrus. Some kind of phsilid carries the disease and one bite is terminal for the tree. So far researchers have not found any resistant stock to use in developing resistant strains of citrus. This stuff is bad news.
I dont plan doing citrus because the land is out in the country at the bottom of a hill so it will probably be colder than the surrounding areas. There are some very new varieties that may work but I am putting it off for this year. Everything I am planting has a chill time of 400 and under. I was thinking about a cherry tree since I have a weeping variety already at my house that does pretty good. It doesnt produce fruit but has stood up to the heat and drought.
Betty... which cherry did you buy and have you had production from them? The Lapins and Stella are available from the company I am purchasing from this winter.
I don't know about the gojis, I am trying a few this year and they don't look too happy. They are from the mountains so they may not like heat a whole lot. You might want to test a few before buying in big.
Get some of the dark-fleshed persimmon varieties such as Chocolate. Yum!
I planted three goji at my house this year. They have grown about 5 feet and did produce flowers but no berries yet. I think they need some shade during the peak heat hours. We have had over 42 days 100+ degrees so far and they are still doing okay. They do tend to grow kinda lanky.
Lee, the cherry trees are called Royal Lee and Minnie Royal. Both needed to pollinate each other. Both need 400 - 500 chill hours. I bought them from RainTree Nursery and planted them this year. Texas Gardener ran an article on low chill cherries a number of months ago and mentioned 4, including the two I mentioned. Unfortunately, I don't remember the other two.
According to Dave Wilson Nursery, Lapins need 800 chill hours and Stella needs 700. On average, how many chill hours will the orchard get?
I am in Texas chill zone 4. I checked out Agrilife and believe that I should be around 450-650. Since I am in a low area, I think that it will be on the high end of that range. It is right outside Staples, TX. I heard about those two varieties of cherries. Bay Laurel listed some of their cherries as low 400-500 while other sites list them much higher. I think that since it is so iffy, I might need to go with the varieties that you recommended. They are the ones getting all the publicity.
I have been looking at citrus on this site http://www.plantfolks.com/preview/sitebuilder/Plantfolks/CitrusAvailability.html
They list some very unusual and cold hardy varieties. I cant wait till winter so I can start planting. However, I still have to put up1400 ft of deer fencing. I might wait until it is less than 100 degrees. I didnt get any rain from Edouard. It passed just North of us.
Been to the plant folks house. Thats where my citrus came from. LOL. BTW that's a one man operation, kind of a hobby gone out of control. Don't expect a open 24 7 type of service. Ned knows his cold hardy citrus.