New deciduous tree fruit varieties don't appear very often, but when they do, it usually points to a significant development in flavor, hardiness, or disease resistance. Here are some of best of the more recent additions to the fruit tree world.
Apricots for the North
'Harglow' is reputedly hardy and fruitful from USDA Zone 4 in the North to zone 8 in the South. Cross-pollination is not needed. It makes large, juicy, flavorful fruits and the tree has some resistance to the common apricot diseases of brown rot and perennial canker.
Apriums and Pluots for California
These fruits are hybrids of apricots and plums, and as you might expect, the apriums taste and grow most like apricots, and pluots are most like plums. Pluots and apriums perform best in California where winters are moderately cold and late-spring frosts are rare. Apriums grow well throughout apricot-growing regions of California, Washington, and Utah. Pluots grow wherever Japanese plums grow well (primarily zones 5 to 8). How they both perform outside California isn't known. All need cross-pollination (recommendations are listed with each variety).
'Dapple Dandy' is a very sweet pluot with white-flesh streaked with red. The medium-sized fruit has deep red and yellow mottled skin. Pollinate with 'Flavor Supreme' or any Japanese plum that blooms simultaneously.
'Flavor Delight' is a sweet, yellow aprium with strong apricot flavor tinged with plum. Pollinate with any apricot.
'Flavor King' is a deep red, deliciously sweet, and spicy pluot. The tree is naturally small. Pollinate with 'Flavor Supreme' pluot or 'Santa Rosa' plum.
'Flavor Queen' is a sweet pluot with greenish yellow skin and amber-orange flesh. Pollinate with any other plum or pluot except 'Flavor King'.
'Flavor Supreme' is a pluot with red flesh and greenish maroon and mottled skin. Pollinate with any other pluot or 'Santa Rosa' plum.
Apples for Anywhere
The premier deciduous fruit of North America, apples grow in most regions. Breeders look for two significant traits: flavor and disease resistance. Several of the following varieties offer both qualities. All apples produce better if pollinated by a tree of a different variety.
'Alkemene', a reddish orange variation on 'Cox Orange Pippin', is prized in the coastal Northwest for its sweet-tart flavor, productivity, and scab resistance.
'Anders' varies with the time of harvest: Picked in late August, color and flavor are similar to those of 'Granny Smith'; later, the fruit develops red striping and tastes like 'Fuji'. Also, it is low-chill; produces well in mild-winter areas of zones 9 through 10.
'Enterprise' is a late-ripening apple with glossy red color and zesty flavor. It is immune to scab and resistant to fireblight, cedar apple rust, and powdery mildew.
'Fiesta' is a sweet and tangy red apple with a green background that resembles 'Cox Orange Pippin'. Best adapted to the coastal Northwest.
'Ginger Gold' is a 'Golden Delicious'-type apple that ripens five weeks earlier than that variety. It's large, yellow, rust-free, crisp, and juicy. Widely adapted.
'GoldRush' is a late-ripening yellow apple with fine, spicy flavor and crisp texture. Immune to scab and resistant to mildew and fireblight, it grows well in the Midwest and Northeast.
'Honeycrisp' is a very hard red apple from Minnesota. Its flavor is good fresh or when used for baking. Somewhat resistant to scab.
'TropicSweet' is another low-chill variety with medium-sized, red, sweet fruit. The tree is resistant to powdery mildew and fireblight but requires pollination by 'Anna' or 'Dorsett Golden'.
You can grow sweet cherries throughout zones 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, and 7b in the eastern United States. In the West, trees also produce well in parts of zones 8 and 9. Hardier sour cherries produce good crops in zone 4.
'Glacier' is a deep red, large, and crack-resistant sweet cherry produced on a hardy, self-fruitful tree.
'Emperor Francis' is a yellow cherry that isn't exactly new but is productive and sweet. Well adapted to the Northwest.
'Surefire' is a red, self-fruitful, late-blooming sour cherry. Excellent for juice, pies, jams, and jellies.
Peaches and Nectarines
If you live anywhere in the peach-growing areas (zones 5 to 10, but especially 6 to 9), find room for at least one peach tree.
'Roseprincess' is an excellent white nectarine for the East.
'Arctic Queen' is a sweet, white-fleshed nectarine. 'Arctic Rose', 'Arctic Star', and 'Arctic Supreme' are similar varieties.
'Delta' is a low-chill peach developed for Gulf Coast areas. Fruit skin is yellow with red blush; flesh is yellow. Tree is resistant to bacterial spot.
'Harrow Diamond' is a large yellow peach with excellent flavor. It ripens midseason and resists bacterial spot.
'Heavenly White' is one of the best-tasting, white-fleshed nectarines for California that produces large, juicy fruit.
'Juneprincess' is a red-skinned, yellow-fleshed nectarine developed for the humid Southeast. Moderately resistant to bacterial spot.
'Q 1-8' is a sweet, white-fleshed peach. Resistant to peach leaf curl.
'Santa Barbara' is a low-chill peach for coastal California with a sweet, yellow flesh. Its yellow skin has a slight red blush. Freestone.
'Southern Pearl' is a large, white-fleshed peach developed for the Gulf Coast region. The fruit has slightly tart flavor; the tree resists bacterial spot.
'Sunraycer' is a low-chill nectarine suitable as far south as central Florida. The fruit is large, yellow-fleshed, and flavorful; the tree is resistant to bacterial spot.
Most kinds of plums grow throughout zones 5 to 9, but adaptation varies. Check with your local extension office for more guidance.
'Black Ruby' is a new, reddish black Japanese plum that resists disease and performs well in the Southeast. It requires cross-pollination from another plum for maximum production.
'Bluebyrd' (pictured above) is a sweet, European-type plum with deep purple skin and amber colored fruit. It produces heavily when cross-pollinated. 'Bluebyrd' is hardy and disease resisitant; a good choice for Mid-Atlantic gardeners.
'Victoria' is a very productive, pinkish red plum from England.
Lance Walheim grows citrus trees in California's Tulare County. He's also written several books on various garden topics.
Photo by Scott Bauer/USDA Agricultural Research Service