Fruit Trees

The Truckee Meadows is a prime location with lots of sun and freezing temperatures appropriate for many fruit trees. The best fruit trees for our area are (in order):

  1. Apple
  2. Pear
  3. Dwarf cherry
  4. Peach

Selecting a Fruit Tree

When choosing a fruit tree look for the tree’s chill hours. A chill hour is one hour for every hour the temperature is between 32 and 45. Trees that need at least 800 chill hours will perform the best in our region.

Choosing a dwarf or semi-dwarf variety may make trees easier to maintain and to harvest fruit. Smaller trees are also less prone to wind damage. Very often in the Truckee Meadows we have an early warming period in January or February, causing trees to break dormancy. Then, when freezing temperatures resume, new growth is damaged or killed. To avoid this problem, choose species that are late bloomers and select species that are “hardy” to zone 3 (Sunset Western Garden Book) or zone 4 (USDA). Click here to view a hardiness zone map.

Visit Truckee Meadows Water Authority’s Interactive Landscape Guide to search a database of trees and plants.

Pruning and Thinning Fruit

Maintenance pruning is recommended from December to mid-March. Pruning to elevate limbs and thinning the interior can be done in summer after fruit drop. For more information see the section on pruning.

Trees usually set too much fruit and need to be thinned. Without thinning, fruits will be small and poor in quality. Heavy loads of fruit will reduce the next season’s crop and may lead to alternate-year bearing. Hand thinning is the best method. For the best production of apples and peaches, the developing fruit should be at least six inches apart. Cherries do not need to be thinned.

View our Fruit Tree Topic Paper for more information.