Food Producing Trees

Food Producing Trees – The Most Popular That People Grow

Do you have any food producing trees on your property?

UPDATE: Scroll down for the list of most popular food producing trees.

“The best time to plant a tree was ’10 years ago’, and/or ‘today’.”

If you’re even a little bit into the concept of self sufficiency, I highly recommend planting a food producing tree (or several) on your property.

Why? Because it’s free food! How bout that for a bit of self sufficiency?!

Are you a procrastinator? Have you put off the idea because it might take many years before a new tree bears fruit?

Well, don’t procrastinate. Like I said a moment ago, the best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago, and today!

Years ago we lived in a climate where just about any fruit tree would grow (Zone 10). We planted quite a few in the yard during that time and eventually enjoyed the fruits of our labor. It was well worth the effort.

Funny story: One tree that we wanted to plant was an Orange tree. So we went to Home Depot and picked one from their garden section, brought it home and planted it. It thrived. However when it finally produced some fruit, guess what? They were grapefruits! That was the last time I trusted the labels on fruit trees in that particular store! Went to nurseries after that…

Having since moved away from that region and now residing in a northern colder climate (Zone 3b), my choices are limited.

However I haven’t let that stop me… Can you say, Apple trees?

Popular related reference book:
Holistic Orchard reference book
Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way

Fruit Tree Climates

Tree Climate Zones

Hardiness zones are used as a guide in selecting appropriate trees for particular areas. The climate zones are determined by average minimum yearly low temperatures.

That said, one ‘trick’ is to look around your neighborhood -see what’s growing.

avg min low temps.

(1) Below –50° F
(2) -50° to -40° F
(3) -40° to -30° F
(4) -30° to –20° F
(5) -20° to -10° F
(6) -10° to 0° F
(7) 0° to 10° F
(8) 10° to 20° F
(9) 20° to 30° F
(10) 30° to 40° F
(11) 40° to 50° F
(12) 50° to 60° F
(13) 60° to 70° F

Hardiness Zone Map & Frost Dates

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Interactive Map

Most Popular Food Producing Trees

UPDATE: Based on your comments from this article’s original publish date in 2018, we had a total of 163 trees.

Here are the results for the most popular food producing trees:

Top 5 trees
1. Apple
2. Plum
3. Cherry
4. Peach
5. Pear

apple 19
plum 17
cherry 15
peach 12
pear 12
pecan 10
mulberry 9
apricot 8
avocado 5
banana 5
fig 5
lemon 5
orange 5
walnut 5
almond 4
nectarine 4
paw paw 4
persimmon 3
chestnut 2
guava 2
olive 2
papaya 2
tangerine 2
coconut palm 1
filbert 1
key lime 1
lime 1
mayhaw 1
pomegranate 1

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  1. Have Apple, Pear, Cherry, Sea Buckthorn, Crabapple, Honeyberry (all producing for number of years. Planted and growing, but not yet producing much/any—-Plum/Blueberry.

  2. Ken,
    It is fun. I worked all day in my orchard and now here is topic about fruit trees. Plum and apple are my favorite fruit trees. They are easy to plant and to care for it. Cherry is next one. It is on the third place only because I more prefer first two. It is the easiest fruit tree to care for it.

  3. We are in zone # 6 and have 2 small orchard spaces on our property.Orchard #1 has 2 peach trees, 2 apple trees,1 plum and is 4 years old . Orchard #2 has 2 peach,1 apple,1 pear , 1 apricot and was planted last year.
    These 10 trees should provide our needs as well as some for trading to folks. I am not an orchardist , but am thankful to have a friend who is. He has given great advice and guidance.

  4. Zone 2 we have apple,pear,plum,cherry, haskap,currants and my favorite by far saskatoons. Second favorite is cherry-plum very prolific 2″ fruit( cross of plum wuth sandcherry)Raspberries also grow great we have 10 varieties.

  5. Here in Willamette Valley, Oregon my wife planted a “non-fruit bearing plum tree” ( so labeled on the tree.) that generates the sweetest golden fruit that has me racing with my dog to gobble up due to their sweetness.

    Most of the time, the dog wins the race so I have resorted to test-tugging the fruit on the tree when I am out in the yard.

    The area I live in is surrounded by cherries and berries of wide variety. I do miss the citrus trees and the lemon tree I used to have in my backyard in California though. A lemon tree in the backyard encouraged me to catch and eat more fish.

    I have been thinking of growing a Meyer lemon in a big pot and putting it in greenhouse during winter frosts up here.

  6. Cherries and apples and plums, oh, my! : ) I planted almond seeds last year, transplanted the apple seedlings (ranging between two and three years) and got the last peach transplanted a few weeks ago. Two pears in the front yard that are into their second year, and three apricot trees, one that should bear this year. We have one mature almond, a walnut, a nectarine, and two plums. I’m going to keep all the new trees pruned below 8 feet.

    I need to prune the grapes and plum trees this week. Adding to my list-that-never-ends.

  7. Zone 8b near-coastal WA. Planted apples, pears, Asian pears, peaches, apricots, plums, and sweet, semi-sweet, and sour cherries. Golden fig that’s trying but was tip burned this winter. Have had to replace some that the elk ate. Crab apples go in this year. Limes in pots in the house. Also have filberts and hope to get hardy pecan and Persian walnut in this year too.

    YouTube has a video of Nebraska farmer that grows citrus in greenhouses. Uses constant temp of the ground to heat and cool. Food for dreams . . .

  8. Thanks for the article, Ken.
    It reminded me to beat the trunks of our fruit trees. (Just came in from doing that)
    I had read that beating the trunks of fruit trees will stress them and put them into a survival mode, end result is for them to produce more fruit.
    We have an apple, which did an extremely great job last year in production.
    A peach which produced 4 peaches last year. A pear that has produced nothing and a cherry that needs a pollinator partner. These are very young trees.
    Granny used to have a plum and they were the best tasting, of course it has been cut down a long time ago.
    We also have numerous Walnut trees along the roadside and a few on brother’s property, along with a few scattered apple trees.

  9. I would really like this more if everyone would say what zone and then be more detailed.
    Example zone 5 apple…Cortland or Honey Crisp
    zone 5 plum Early Blue

    Also standard or dwarf..semi dwarf.

    Just a suggestion.
    Regards, Dannyg

    1. Although I can give you the zone, the rest won’t help you in my case.

      I’m in zone 6. I grow most of my trees from seed. The English walnut was purchased, one of the plums was purchased (Stanley, I’m unsure of the rootstock) and the almond was purchased (I can’t remember the variety, but it’s self-fertile and blooms over an expended period. The other almond trees are its seedlings).

      All the peach trees, apple trees, pear trees, and two of the three apricots were from seed. The other apricot was a rescue and I have no idea of the variety.

    2. Danny
      Zone 5
      Cresthaven peach
      Bartlett pear
      A three variety apple
      All dwarfs…. although we must have some pretty tall dwarfs running around these parts.
      Peach and pear were a farm store purchase. Family Farm and Home
      The apple was a mail order from Gurney’s. Umpteen yrs ago.

      1. Joe c
        Our Bartlett Pear trees do well for us here. The dwarf peach trees are both Reliant. Apples are early blaze, cortland, lodi, rome , the Honey crisp is still struggling.
        I have room for another peach and I will give the Cresthaven a try. Thanks for the tip.
        Regards, Danny

  10. I am currently laying out and planning for planting of my orchard. I am in zone 7 and plan on planting two of each tree. I have been to my fairly local university extension and have taken a few classes on this, so hope the info has stuck. For now I am planting 2 D’Anjou Pears, 2 Utah Giant Sweet Cherries, 2 Italian or Blue Damson Plums, 2 Reliance Peach (my FIL grew these in Idaho near Boise and they did well, and were yummy), and hopefully 2 Harcot apricots. It is very important to look at chill hours and get the variety that has the longest chill hour requirements. I know apples are very easy to grow, but for now, I am not interested in planting any. We will see if I have any room! I also am going to plant various berry bushes as well. Unfortunately, it looks like I will have to wait 3 years or so for some bounty, but if I am not around, hopefully these fruit plants will nourish those who come after me.

  11. I don’t have much room to grow trees where I’m at, but I’ve still managed to have two fruit trees in front, and two in back. I have a petite plum in front, and a 4-way apple tree, that produces loads of apples. The apple tree has red delicious, yellow delicious, john-a-gold, and winter banana, all grafted on one tree. In back I have a large Italian plum, and a yellow transparent apple. Now, that front apple tree gave me an idea, and I read up on grafting. So, one spring I decided to give it a try, and grafted two john-a-gold starts, and one winter banana start on to the transparent apple tree. I got lucky, and all 3 grafts took. After 3 years they started producing lots of apples. It’s not as hard as it seems to graft apples. Doesn’t hurt to give it a try, you’ve got nothing to lose. Plums are a little harder though.

  12. Zone 5 here. We first put in apples – honeycrisp and spye. Then added red Bartlett pear and cherry. Then more apples – matsu, black Arkansas, red prairie, another northern spye, sweet sixteen (nice apple). Then another pear – Anjou. Then Reliant peach, another cherry, and plum. It appears the plums can pollinate with cherry trees and vice versa. More apple Fuji ( small and growing really slow), and a winecrisp. Our favorites are honeycrisp, wine crispand sweet sixteen we have tasted, but not from our trees yet as they are young.

    We hope to produce enough to feed us, family and friends and the animals. We have the pigs clean up the ground for us so we don’t have the rot sitting there. Eventually, perhaps we can trade some apple harvest for something someone else is growing that is labor intensive like potatoes.

    I just read an article on Grit about the Mirabelleheirloom plum tree that sounds interesting so we are sewrching for this tree to add.

  13. We are in zone 6 at 7600 feet and everything around would eat a fruit tree if planted in the ground outside. We would get near to nothing. Some people with apple trees get an occasional apple. Old man made a green house where the trees could bloom and then be kept warm with a propane heater. They usually bloom March to April and also freeze the same months. It is a lot of work, but worth it. Now our only fight is with the ground squirrels.

    1. old lady
      This may sound cruel to some but it does work. We have water troughs that have a wide lip on the edge. Fill it with water enough that the ground squirrel can not reach up to the lip of the trough and enough water they can not put their feet on the bottom to survive.

      Yes, it may awful but we discovered this by accident. The rodents kept getting into the horses water after they had drank it down to certain level an of course by the time I would find them they have dispatch themselves.
      Fish them out toss them on the road for the buzzards to have a meal. I refer to it as mother natures recycling program,,,,buzzards have to eat.
      Hence the survival of your fruit trees so you can have a harvest every year.

  14. in Southern Middle TN:
    2 apple
    2 pear
    2 chestnut

    Pear trees are everywhere down here. So many that people just drive over the fallen fruit in driveways and country roadsides. I even collect fallen ones from a churchyard up from my house. No one every gathers this fruit. Such a shame :(

  15. Zone 9-10

    Production trees
    I have several Mago, 2 Tangerine (spring producers), Lemon, 1 orange, 1 Lime, 3 different varieties of Avocado (year round production) Jack Fruit, Sugar Apple (tropical fruit you suck on), Bananas.

    Trees are essential to level 4 sustainability. Key benefit most unwanted visitors just can’t walk away with your trees. Like the raccoons around here you have to be up on your game to grab the fruits before they do.
    Also make sure to plant a variety of trees of different Genus of Family. Disease can spread quickly through an orchard. There are viruses out there that can spread from peach to plum to cherry. All are in the Prunus x Family. Plum pox virus is spread from sucking insects.. Difficult to control the spread. It was recently found in the Hudson Valley NY. This is a heavy commercial fruit production region with orchards established throughout. Now entire farms are being quarantined.

  16. Only trees that will grow where I’m at is Pinion or Juniper, good got Pinion Nuts or Gin I guess, other trees would need a LOT of watering.
    The lower valley does have quite a few “unclaimed” fruit trees that would be come a good source if/when TSHTF.
    I do harvest a lot of friends trees that they have no use for the fruit, Peaches and Apples galore.

    1. Maybe try grapes? A lot of growers don’t water at all, so it’s worth a try. Find someone who has grape vines and get a branch. Coil it up under the ground and in the spring you should have several starts. Or just stick it in the ground where you want the vine. They do need to be deeply watered for the first year or two.

      1. Im going to try grapes this year,
        Actually planting, grapes, blackberries and strawberries

  17. Thanks for the post Ken! I’m hoping to put in 3 honeycrisp trees next month when we visit the property (zone 6a). The issue is they will be left on their own for extended periods of time so I’m not sure if this plan will work… does anyone have any experience with that? I can isolate them with a fence easy enough to keep wildlife from enjoying my work, but will the trees survive without occasional attention? Also… should I wait for the fall to plant or is the spring time better?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. CA_EX_2B:
      Springtime is better to plant for new trees. They need a little time to get established, and grow some new roots, and put on a little new growth. Do not prune the first year or two. They need that new growth to get strong. Definitely isolate them with a fence the first year. Water them very good when you plant them, as the roots need to settle. Also, if your going to be gone for a while, and can’t water them, you might consider a good mulch for a couple of feet around the tree if the weather is going to be dry. I think that covers it. Maybe.

    2. CA_EX_2B,
      I agree with BB Cat on spring planting. Thing is new trees need to be kept watered, unless you are planting in a continually damp area, then you might be able to plant an forget. I disagree with BB Cat on pruning. Once you plant, you might want to cut them back about 1/3. Ask at the garden center where you buy your trees, or the local County Farm extension service about what is recommended for your area. Also, when you put those trees in, you want to “Mud” them in. Dig your large hole, with a mound in the bottom to support the root ball at the correct height. Fill the hole with water, put the tree in letting the water push the air out of the root ball.Slowly start back filling the whole with dirt, allowing it to turn to mud and settle around the roots. The idea is to have the water and then mud surround the roots and drive all the air out. I’ve done this for years, and have had very few of the thousands of trees/vines I have planted die. Mulching to hold the moisture in is a good idea. Remember though, rodents will live in this mulch in the winter, and may feed on the bark during the winter. I would consider protective wrap for the trunks to prevent this, as well as sun scald in the winter. heavy wire cages around the trees to protect them from deer. Might want to consider making friends with some of your new neighbors, and maybe offer to pay one of their kids to haul some water over to the new trees during the summer if you can’t get in there. Other than this, the only other thing you could do is wait until you are on the property permanently to plant, water and tend to them. good luck

      1. Minerjim:
        You are correct on the planting. Guess I should have been more specific. Was in a hurry.


          I will use the suggestions for sure. Especially the idea about hiring one of the neighbors to haul up some water in the summer!

          Sometimes the most obvious is the hardest to see!

          1. CA_EX_2B
            When you are digging the hole make it large enough to hold both bucket & fruit trees ball. Leaving enough room when & if you ever have to remove the bucket it will be out far enough without being entangled in the trees roots during its growing spurts. The bucket you will be shopping for is a one with strong sides so you can drill holes in the bucket for slow watering to the trees roots. We used ours this way in our raised garden beds, since our water availability was limited. We only had to water every few days. This could be way to keep your trees alive without wasting water.

            The other solution is the wicking method but the bucket which the water will be stored in should have the smallest opening so you do not lose a lot of the water from evaporation.

  18. We are zone 6 and have one honey crisp apple tree. It is 2 years since I planted it and it has not bloomed yet. The neighbor has an apple tree to pollenate. I am thinking about getting one of the 5-n-1 plum trees from Burgess. Also wanting to get a pecan tree. We live on a city lot so there is not much room for trees.

    1. Actually yes you can grow trees on small lots look up espalier techniques for fruit trees. You can train fruiting trees to grow narrow along fence lines and train on heavy gauge wire similar to grape production in vineyards. This technique is becoming popular in commercial apple orchards as an efficient way to grow harvest and maintain fruit trees. I implement this technique on my citrus. It does take time and know how to prune and train the trees. A good Apple variety should give you 10-15 years of excellent production.

      1. I want to do this with apples, but in large tubs. Would that make a difference? They seem to die on a regular basis. It’s just unused space at the back of my garden…

      2. White Cracker:
        I prune my apple trees every year, and spray them with dormant spray in the spring. I prune them down to one or two buds, sometimes three, depending on which way I want the limb to go. I prune every limb on the tree. When they bloom, they look almost round. They have been producing heavy for the last 25 years, and still are very healthy trees. I also fertilize them every spring with a good compost. The moral is, if you learn to prune and take care of the tree, it will serve you for a long time. It is well worth learning to prune, and it’s really not that hard.

    2. Car Guy,
      If that apple doesn’t bloom, it could be a late frost killing the buds. If not that, might want to do a soils test. Lack of boron, manganese, iron can cause issues. I have found that these can be corrected by micronutrient foliar sprays very easily. Might ask at the county extension service about getting a soils test done.

  19. We have peach, plum, apricot and pecan. Would love to have some pear and apple. Not many people have apple around here. They don’t do very good.

    1. – Texasgirl,
      At the old house, the one which burned ,we had an Asian Pear that stood about 20 feet tall fully grown and averaged around fifteen gallons of fruit per year. The new owners bulldozed the damaged tree when clearing the lot, but I noticed that there a several volunteer plants coming upon a neighbors untended lot. I believe I may go retrieve a couple and plant here, as they are very apple-like when they are still a bit green. All of the volunteer trees that I have seen from similar trees have been fertile, and they are very sweet. My great-grandmother’s house in Corsicana, about an hour south of Dallas, had five pear trees growing out back. They did quite well, although apples did not.
      i can remember as a child my great-grandmother crying because her Quince tree had died, and she didn’t think she would be around to wait for another to grow old enough to bear. A member of the apple family, it was the source for pectin for her jams and jellies. and she would now have to buy boxed pectin.
      She also had old world fig and apricots growing in her yard.
      – Papa S.

  20. We made two orchard areas close to the creek and near my poultry pens; however, we have planted other fruit and nut trees throughout our land land in groups of three. Lots of American chestnuts and mulberries were planting doing this. The mulberries are also from local trees so I know they will do well. The American chestnuts are two varieties. One is from an original tree that my husband had survive on his parents’ home property. We try to grow out seeds each year. The other is a hybrid developed from these original American chestnuts that were developed here in NY by s guy that now sells them to nurseries. It is supposed to be a hardier strain. By planting in groups of three, I am hoping I have time to get a third pollinator growing out again without loss of production since two are (hopefully) still standing. I need to consider doing this (planting throughout the property) with the apple trees too I think. I have scouted an area that would be good to attempt in the next year or so.

    Next tree project is getting in the hickory trees that my son is having sent to me this spring…they were a Christmas gift. I love gifts like these!

    We have many things that will eat the trees and the fruit so all are fenced until they get big enough to withstand the deer and chickens and occasional free roaming pig. We get super high winds regularly where we live so that is another issue to be mindful about.

    The serviceberries seem to grow wild here as we have tons of them on the property, along with several wild and good tasting apple trees.

    The soil here is wonderful too even though we do have lots of rocks. The only downfall is our tyrannical governor.

    1. DamedinNY,
      re: your tyrannical governor. Like a bad lunch eaten, he too will eventually pass.

  21. How many of you that have orchards also have bears? I was told don’t even bother planting fruit trees if you have bears because they will eat it all, wreck the trees and it encourages them to stay close. I’m already going to take a chance with having chickens and I just wonder if I’ll have permanent bear residents if I provide chickens and fruit.

  22. MontanaHome,
    I agree both with Tommboy and SMG. We have a small orchard, and 6 acres of wine grapes. We are surrounded by farms that grow sweet corn. Yes, we do have bears, but in ten years have not had them come in close to the house or orchard adjoining it. (deer on the other hand will walk right through and help themselves. Have to control them.) You can buy a box of rubber-buckshot shot shells to use as “persuaders” with the bears. Once they get swatted a few times they will learn not to come into the orchard. You will have to keep this up for a few years. The Mama bears here teach their young where to go, and where not to go. I do just let the bears eat whatever grapes are left after harvest. They are a trouble in the sweet corn fields for my neighbors though. May have to try Tommyboy’s linguesa sausage idea. BTW, rendered bear fat is the best for flakey pastries and baking.

  23. Papa S.- That is really cool to have the volunteer plants coming up! How exciting. I hope they work out. Keep us updated, would love to know how that works out. My grandmother had a couple of fig trees in her yard when I was a kid. We would go out and eat figs fresh off the tree. I really miss that. I think I will give the pear trees a go.

  24. The bears you have in Montana are not the bears I would like to meet. Even in rural CA where I just moved from, the black bears come into yards, destroying fences, and eat the fruit. My gal pal had a black bear jump a fence and kill a couple goats last year. Since you will have livestock, consider fencing with energized fence and do it for the trees too.

  25. We have 1 honey crisp apple, 1 crabapple and 2 McIntosh apples. I have 2 hazelnuts and want to plant blueberries this year. Already ordered strawberry plants for a bed.

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