Northwest Kansas has cold winters and is a good spot for fruit trees that require winter chilling. Many fruits, including apples and pears, require so-called "chill time," which is a set number of hours below 45 degrees F. These trees, which are deciduous, can survive cold winters and should produce a profusion of flowers in spring before giving way to fruit. Northwest Kansas is located in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone 5b, where winter temperatures can drop to -15 degrees F.
Apples require up to 1,200 hours of chill time, making northwest Kansas a good spot to plant trees. Braeburn, Fuji and Rome apples may be planted in the same landscape and will cross-pollinate. Braeburn and Fuji apples should be ready for harvest in October while Rome apples should be ready a few weeks later.
Braeburn and Fuji apples are crisp and sweet with green-red skin with the Rome is a softer apple with red skin.
Apple trees can grow to 20 feet, should be planted in full sun and require regular water during the growing season.
Best known for the delicate, fragrant blossoms that appear in spring, cherry trees can thrive in northwest Kansas. Bing Cherry (Prunus avium) trees should bloom in late April before giving way to plump, juicy fruit in late June. These trees can grow to 35 feet and should be planted with another cherry tree for cross-pollination. The "Stella" variety is a good cold-weather selection for a second tree.
Bing cherries may be red to nearly black and have pits. The fruit grows in small clusters. Cherry trees should be planted in full sun and require regular water.
Common pears (Pyrus communis ) including the popular "Bartlett" and "Bosc" varieties are grown in Hardiness Zones 4 to 9, but are grown commercially in California and Oregon. The fruit need between 600 to 900 chill hours, making northwest Kansas a good spot to grow these trees in a home landscape, though they should be planted in a protected spot, such as on a downslope or close to a dwelling, to avoid damage from spring frost.
Pear trees can grow to 40 feet, have bright green, glossy leaves and produce a profusion of white flowers in early to mid spring. Pears should be ready to harvest in September. The trees should be planted in full sun, require regular water and thrive in well-drained, loamy soil.
The Bartlett pear has yellow skin and juicy, sweet flesh. This pear should be picked when green and then allowed to ripen. The Bosc pear has a rough, brown skin and a sweet, juicy flavor.