Growing fruit in a state with a short growing season and a harsh winter, like that in Minnesota, can be difficult. Obviously, bananas and pineapple are not options. However, one can grow apples, apricots, plums, pears, cherries and peaches under the right conditions. Please note: most of these fruit trees are self-incompatible, which means more than one variety is necessary for the tree to produce fruit.
Growing apples in Minnesota generally means staying away from the popular supermarket varieties such as Red Delicious and Golden Delicious. Instead, if you want to grow summer apples select Beacon, Hazen, Mantet, Norland, State Fair, Westland, and Whitney Crabapple. The best fall apples include Centennial Crabapple, Chestnut Crabapple, Red Baron, Sweet Sixteen, Wealthy and Wolf River. McIntosh is another choice but only in southeastern Minnesota.
For winter apples, Haralson, Haralred and Macoun can be grown throughout Minnesota. Connell Red, Fireside and Keepsake can be grown in southern Minnesota; Honeygold, Northwest Greening and Red Regent can be grown only in southeastern Minnesota. Fall-Winter apples that can be grown in southern Minnesota include Cortland, Honeycrisp and Red Prairie Spy.
A small variety of apricot trees are known to be hardy enough for Minnesota. Since apricots are not self-fertilizing, you need to select two different varieties of apricot trees if you want them to produce fruit. Both apricot hybrids (Prunus. armeniaca x P. mandshurica) Moongold and Sungold are appropriate for growing in southeast Minnesota. However, the apricot variety Scout (Prunus mandshurica 'Scout') can be grown in both southern and northern Minnesota.
A number of varieties of hybrid plums (Prunus salicina x P. Americana) will grow in southern Minnesota including Alderman, La Crescent, Pembina, Pipestone, Superior, and Waneta. Two other varieties, Toka and Underwood, will grow in both southern and northern Minnesota. Of these, Superior and Toka are pollinators. The best bet for growing European plums (Prunus domestica) is the Mount Royal variety if you live in southeastern Minnesota. Luckily, it is self-compatible. A few varieties of cherry plums (Prunus cerasifera) are more adaptable and can be grown in other areas of Minnesota such as the Compass (a pollinator), Sapalta and Red Diamond.
Pears (Pyrus communis) are best grown in southeastern Minnesota since the only two varieties that are recommended for northern Minnesota (Luscious and Gourmet) are not pollinators. Varieties that are known to do well in Minnesota include Golden Spice, Summer Crisp, Parker, Patten, Gourmet and Luscious.
Three species of cherries can be grown throughout Minnesota: Nanking cherries (Prunus tomentosa), sand cherries (Prunus besseyi) and pie or tart cherries (Prunus cerasus). The best varieties for Nanking cherries are Orient, Drilea or seedlings sold as "Hansen Bush cherries." For sand cherries, the best choices include Black Beauty, Brooks or Sioux. Pie cherry varieties that are good include Meteor, Northstar and Mesabi. Only pie cherries are self-compatible.
A few varieties of peaches (Prunus persica) can be grown in southeastern Minnesota including Hardy, Red Haven, Elberta, Majestic and Scarlet Prince. Since peaches are self-fertile, you only need to plant one variety to produce fruit.
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