[NAFEX] fruit that grows well in shade

Alan Haigh alandhaigh at gmail.com
Tue Nov 6 07:36:43 EST 2007

     Here's a contribution to the question of what fruit does well in the
shade.  You probably already know the traditional answer of currants and
gooseberries but the following are some of my personal observations.  This
is something I've looked at a lot because of all the non-commercial sites
(home and estate orchards) I manage.  These sites are often solar challenged
because my region in southeastern NY is essentially forest.
     First of all, the earlier the fruit ripens the more likely it is to get
adequate sun- think cherries, mulberries, Japanese plums, apricots, and
early peaches.  Also think of the sweetest cultivars or at least those
highest in soluable solids.  I was surprised to discover that the
Elephantheart plum growing on my property in about 70% shade was capable of
fairly reliably producing large harvests of amazingly sweet fruit- the shade
probably actually delays flowering a bit.  E.H is one of the latest Japanese
plums we grow here.  Earlier ones like Methely and Shiro are at least
equally shade tolerant.  Ozark Premier seems not to be.
     Of course many European plums have extremely high levels of soluble
solids but in limited experience I have found them not to be shade
productive.  It's strange that on wet years with lots of cloud cover the
Europeans sweeten up very well so I'm a little confused at how poorly they
seem to do in less than about 70% exposure.  Of course their high
susceptibilty to brown-rot increases the liability of shade.
     On apples I have even less conclusive evaluations.  I have seen Baldwin
produce a few tastey apples in complete shade and because it continues to
ripen after most of our forest trees have defoliated it may pick up some
late sugar.  Northern Spy seems to need a lot of sun. Baldwin is a high-brix
apple and Spy not so much.  I would suggest that appples that produce
adequate sugar throughout the tree, where seconds (the smaller less colored
fruit) are of good quality are likely to do well in relatively shady sites.
Fuji is an example of such an apple and it is extremely high in soluble
      Asian pears seem to do poorly in the shade because they need to obtain
very high levels of sugar to have any flavor at all.  Bartlett and Seckel do
pretty well while Highland and Aurora do not.
      Most of the smaller non-tree fruits we grow here are fairly shade
tolerant- you know, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, kiwis and so
on.  If you like paw-paws or autumn olive (I like the first, not the second)
they certainly tolerate some shade.
       That's about the extent of the contribution I can make.  While it's
good to know that you don't need absolute sun to produce some quality fruit
that doesn't stop me from being a fanatic for full sun.  Those couple of
extra hours of sun at the beginning and end of each day can make the
differnce between good and exceptional  fruit for many varieties.  I'd
certainly appreciate some input on this subject from othere list members.
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