What Fruit Trees Grow in Michigan?
Situated among the Great Lakes, Michigan's two peninsulas provide a range of growing conditions for production of fruits. Warm summers and cold winters allow many fruit trees to prosper. Depending on the tree, it is planted where expected winter low temperatures are not detrimental. The Upper Peninsula typically has shorter, cooler summers and much colder winters compared with the larger Lower Peninsula. Overall, Michigan is in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 6.
Grown throughout the state, but arguably the only fruit tree that reliably produces a crop in the Upper Peninsula, apple is the most important commercial fruit crop in Michigan. According to the Michigan State University Extension Service, Michigan often ranks second only to Washington state in production of these fruits. Contact your local extension office for a list of apple cultivars that grow best in your area of the state; those trees demonstrate the best winter hardiness, disease resistances and adaptability to soil.
Both sweet and sour cherry trees grow in Michigan. Sour cherry trees (also called tart or pie cherries) are better adapted to colder winters than sweet cherry trees in general. Moreover, sour cherry trees tend to bloom later than sweet cherry trees, which guarantees that any later untimely spring frosts tend to threaten only the sweet cherry blossoms and fruit set.
Peaches are most heavily grown in commercial orchards in southwestern Michigan. The milder winter temperatures along the shores of lower Lake Michigan diminish any problems with winter branch die-back or loss of dormant flower buds, but peach trees can be enjoyed throughout much of lower Michigan.
According to Michigan State University Extension, two varieties of pears (Bartlett and Bosc) are commonly grown in orchards in Michigan. Oceana County comprises the largest number of pear tree orchards. Pear trees are well-adapted for culture across much of the Lower Peninsula, where winters are milder.
Steven F. Berkheimer and Eric Hanson of Michigan State University's Department of Horticulture mention several other fruit trees that can be grown for their tasty fruits. These tree species aren't usually grown in commercial orchards, but have merit. They mention four native fruit trees called pawpaw, serviceberry/saskatoon, red mulberry and elderberry, as well as the less common (non-native) fruit trees, persimmon, white mulberry, black mulberry and quince.