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Trees flower however no fruit set

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Harvest starts with ...
Trees purchased from Daleys are now over 4 years old, there has been limited success.

Tree grape, dwarf mulberry and plum trees are bearing well. I am concerned the mulberry is not a dwarf variety as despite heavy pruning the tree is 4m high, fruit are low quality however in large quantity.

Trees do sustain some frost damage, last year was particularly severe.

Black sapote, longan and Grumichama set flowers however no fruit develops despite heavy watering after flowers appear.

Looking for advice please prior to removal and planting other trees.
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22nd December 2016 12:12pm
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brad16 says...
Hi Harvest,

It would be a shame to remove those trees after waiting 4 years. If they are seedlings, try to be patient. Fruit trees grown from seed take a while to produce fruit and the trees you listed are well worth the wait.

It may take another few years yet and it isn't abnormal for fruit trees to flower a few seasons before fruit sets and holds to maturity.

Depending on how 'heavy' the watering is, you may be wasting water. Trees only need as much water as is useful, and any more than that actually makes their life more difficult. I have a few small pomegranate trees (no more than 50cm tall) that put out a few flowers a month ago. I thought 'awe ... aint that nice', gave them some water as a reward, and the next morning they had dropped. Another pomegranate (same age) flowered last week. At the moment, my potted trees get just enough water to stay alive (I mean this literally ... they are all wilting, but still alive), and the pomegranate flowers are setting to fruit (the tree isn't big enough to support even one mature fruit). My point is that they don't need 'extra' water when they are flowering. Infact, it may even make them think 'oops, what is going on? Better wait till next season to give it go'.

I grew up eating mulberries from the tree and wanted that experience again. I have Hicks Fancy, but was disappointed with them because they weren't what I remembered from my youth, and considered them 'inferior quality'. I then realised the mulberries I used to eat were Black English. I guess 'quality' is subjective and maybe you are like myself and have a particular taste that you are used to. Do you know the type of mulberry you have? The Hicks Fancy have a more 'blackberry' look than the Black English. Also, only a small percentage of the fruit on the tree will look like the 'postcard' ones they always take pictures of in fruit bowls. The others are fine but the 'eye-candy' ones are always the first to go.

I don't know about dwarfing mulberry trees, but they are naturally large (can't reach the top on tippie-toes) and there aren't numerous varieties around, like citrus for example. So if they have a rootstock that will stunt a naturally 12 metre tall tree to 8 metres, for example, then that is a 'dwarf mulberry'.

My father planted a 'dwarf' lemon tree that never grew above knee height. The dumbest tree I've ever seen. It produces 2 lemons (maybe sometimes a 3rd) and you have to bend down to your knees to pick them!

Personally, I think the word 'dwarf' has lost its significance. People look for dwarf trees to fit in their yards, ideally around 2 to 3 metres, so they can reach the full harvest and fit a decent variety into a suburban yard. 'Dwarf' trees are also sought after for pots in inner city balconies. Different people expect different things from the word 'dwarf'. Really it just means it shouldn't grow to the normal size that particular variety reaches. If a tree naturally grows to 20m and some rootstock stunts its growth by an amazing 50%, that 'dwarf' tree will still grow to 10m. Plants like citrus and apples have been commercially cultivated for centuries and there are many different varieties with many different characteristics. Some that stunt the growth of the tree and is suitable for 'dwarfing' other varieties. Mulberries don't have the benefits of a such vast commercial cultivation to create such a variety of characteristics. There is sufficient citrus variety (or compatible species) to 'dwarf' citrus down to your knees, but I don't see mulberries having such a scale of variety to achieve such significant retardation of growth.

Anyway, your trees are very yummy fruit trees. When they are 15 years old or so, you won't know how you ever lived without them. Give them some more time.
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19th January 2017 7:49pm
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denise1 says...
` Yep I agree that they may be watered too much. Remember to give a fertiliser with enough pottassium to support flowering and fruiting but not more than it needs. You could also try hitting the trunk with a rubber mallet -however with due care. It can shock the fruit into bearing and usually as a last resort. The little result of damage usually recovers rapidly but I cannot guarantee. The person who gave me the tip swears that it usually works.
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auckland NZ
21st January 2017 11:32am
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Original Post was last edited: 21st January 2017 11:33am
Sawyer says...
My grumichama took over 9 years to fruit. Fruit is ok but no one is going to write poetry about it.
My advice .....cincture the lot.
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21st January 2017 8:55pm
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