Looking at our vast Wyoming prairies, deserts, and mountain landscapes, one would think fruit production just isn’t in the cards. The fact is you’d be dead wrong! Just a quick count by me indicates there are at least 12 different varieties of fruit grown in Wyoming. Let’s have a look at some of the fruit varieties you can grow.
Even today, these century old apple orchards are still producing fruit—a tribute to the fact that apple trees are indeed hardy for Wyoming conditions. It’s estimated that there are over 3,000 apple varieties available to be grown. Unfortunately, one apple tree doesn’t work to produce fruit; it requires another separate apple or crabapple tree to serve as a pollinator. Typically, these trees need to be within 500 feet of each other to work; of course they can be closer. It has everything to do with bees flying back and forth from flower to flower.
Since before statehood, Wyoming farms and ranches have been growing apples.
Raspberries are native to Wyoming’s mountains, and unlike apples they don’t require another raspberry to produce fruit—they are self-fertile. Raspberries are suckering shrubs with thorns, that is to say, they will sucker from their root system. The wise gardener will develop an area that allows for this suckering without invading other portions of the garden. Raspberries are prolific producers of fruit from an early age, some varieties producing fruit twice a season, once in mid-summer and again in the fall, while others produce in fall only. Typically raspberries die back to the ground every year in Wyoming. There are two types of raspberries, ones that produce fruit on new wood while others produce fruit on second year wood. Only buy raspberries that produce fruit on new wood because the wood always dies back each winter.
Like the other fruits mentioned, plums are very hardy for Wyoming. Most are small trees under 15 feet tall at maturity. Native plums, those found in Wyoming, are self-fertile, while others require a second separate tree for pollination. Some plums have dark blue skin while others have red or yellow skinned fruit. Their flesh is usually colored yellow to orange and is extremely sweet and tasty.
Chokecherries are a large shrub or small tree native to Wyoming. The fruit is born in clusters and ripens in late summer. Chokecherry berries are typically harvested and turned into jams and preserves. Mostly, chokecherry fruit is a dark purple red; however there are yellow fruited chokecherries native to Wyoming that have also been brought into the horticulture trade.
Other fruits include currants, strawberries, elderberry, apricot, buffaloberry, serviceberry, blackberries, sour cherries and chokeberry—even peach.
The take home message is you can grow fruit in Wyoming, and most importantly in your landscape.
This article first appeared in the January 27th, 2017 edition of the Wyoming Plant Company News sent to subscribers. You can subscribe to the newsletter using the form on the sidebar.