Fruit & Nuts
for the Low Desert
Lucy Bradley, Agent, Urban
Michael Maurer, Former Agent, Fruit Crops
Get complete document as PDF file
For optimum fruit production in the low desert, choose deciduous
fruit tree varieties that have low chilling requirements,
early maturing fruit, and are self pollinating.
Most deciduous fruit and nut trees from temperate
climates require a genetically determined amount of cold weather
(chill hours) to set fruit. While there is still some disagreement
in the scientific community around how to precisely calculate chill
hours, a good rule of thumb is to count the number of hours between
November 1st and February 15th that are between 32°
and 45° F. These
hours are cumulative and need not be continuous. The most benefit
is derived from chilling hours occurring in December and January.
Daytime temperatures above 60° F during this period may
affect the cumulative total. Most areas of Maricopa County average
between 300 to 400 chilling hours per year. By
of fruit that require around 250 hours of chilling to set fruit
you can be sure of a full crop almost every year.
Select varieties which mature before the hot summer
temperatures arrive and avoid sunburning fruit.
If space is a consideration, choose a self-fruitful/self-pollinating
variety. Many deciduous fruit trees require cross pollination to
bear fruit. Thus, it is necessary to have two varieties of the same
type of fruit in order for either tree to bear abundant fruit. A
self-pollinating variety will have good fruit set even with only
The rootstock onto which a fruit tree is grafted can impact the tree
in a variety of ways:
provide disease resistance or tolerance for pathogens
such as Root-Knot Nematodes, Oak Root Fungus, and Phytopthora;
improve performance in a particular soil type, i.
e. some rootstocks perform well in clay soils, others in sandy soils;
control growth rate and mature size;
increase drought tolerance;
increase salt tolerance; and
modify fruit quality including taste, texture, size
Your local nursery should offer fruit trees that are grafted onto
appropriate rootstocks for your area.
The following is a list of low-chill deciduous fruit trees which
should do well in the low desert and are available at local nurseries.
This is not an all- inclusive list and many of these varieties are
still untested in the low desert of Arizona. In addition, many new
varieties are developed every year. Use the three criteria identified
above when selecting fruit trees for your yard.
* Asterisk in front of variety name means variety which has been evaluated and performed well in the Low Desert.
|*Anna: Remarkable fruit
for mild-winter climates in Southern Arizona. Heavy crops of sweet,
crisp, flavorful apples even in low desert. Fresh or cooked. Keeps
2 months in refrigerator. Chilling requirement 200 hours. Self-fruitful
or pollinated by Dorsett Golden or Ein shemer.
*Beverly Hills: Produces a pale yellow medium sized
fruit. Chilling requirement 300 hours. Self-fruitful.
*Ein shemer: Heavy-bearing, very low chilling requirement
of 100 hours. Sweet yellow apples in early summer (June in the
low desert). Excellent pollenizer for Anna. Self- fruitful.
Fuji: Recently introduced from Japan, has quickly become
Californias favorite apple. Sweet, very crisp and flavorful,
excellent keeper. Dull reddish-orange skin, sometimes russeted.
Chilling requirement listed as 600 hours, but preliminary testing
in the low desert indicate that it may be less. Self-fruitful.
Gala: Wonderful dessert apple from New Zealand. Crisp,
nice blend of sweetness and tartness, rich flavor. Skin reddish-orange
over yellow. Chilling requirement listed as 500-600 hours, preliminary
testings suggest it maybe less. Self-fruitful.
*Golden Dorsett: Outstanding sweet apple for warm winter
areas. Firm, very flavorful, sweet like Golden Delicious. Productive
throughout the low desert. Good early season sweet apple. Chilling
requirement of 100 hours. Self-fruitful.
*Gordon: Produces a reddish-green fruit for fresh use
and cooking. Chilling requirement, 400 hours. Self-fruitful.
|Castlebrite: Firm and juicy.
Good flavor when fully ripe, otherwise somewhat tart. Good size.
Bright orange with red blush. 450 chill hours. Self-fruitful.
Gold Kist: Excellent backyard apricot for warm winter
climates. Freestone, very good quality. Heavy bearing. Early harvest,
late May to early June. Requires 300 chill hours. Self-fruitful.
*Katy: Large, all purpose flavorful freestone. Tree
ripe fruit is subacid (not tart). A favorite apricot for warm-winter
climates. Early harvest, late May to early June. Requires 400
chill hours. Self-fruitful.
Modesto: Commercially grown for shipping. 300-400 hours
*Patterson: A vigorous tree. Fruit are medium to large
in size with good firm, modestly flavorful flesh. Good for freezing,
drying, and canning. Requires 500 chill hours. Self-fruitful.
Royal Rosa: Extremely vigorous, more disease tolerant
than other apricots. Bears young and heavy. Especially nice fruit:
sweet, low acid, fine flavor. Very early harvest (early-to-mid
May). Excellent backyard apricot. Requires 500 chill hours. Self-fruitful.
|*Black Mission: Popular
and flavorful for eating fresh or dried. Medium to large pear-shaped
fruit has skin which is black-purple and strawberry-colored flesh.
Tree is large and long lived. Well adapted to elevations below
*Brown Turkey: Sweet tasting and best eaten fresh.
Bell shaped medium to large fruit has browish- purple skin with
pink flesh. Tree is large and best adapted to 2,000 - 3,000 feet.
Not as prolific as Mission.
*Conadria (White): Mild and sweet with whitish-pink
flesh. Large fruit with cream to light green colored skin. Good,
eaten fresh or dried. Tolerates heat well.
*White Kadota: Good, fresh or dried, suitable for canning.
Fruit is medium sized with yellow skin. Flesh is amber with few
seeds. Hot weather aids in ripening
|*Bonanza Miniature: Popular
yellow freestone - large fruit is sweet, low in acid, with a mild,
refreshing flavor. Mid-to-late May in low desert climates. Five-
to six-foot tree. Chilling requirement very low, 250 hours or
August Pride: Large, all-purpose yellow freestone for
mild-winter climates. Sweet, aromatic, rich flavor, one of the
best. Chilling requirement less than 300 hours. Self- fruitful.
* Babcock: Long-time favorite white-fleshed freestone.
Sweet and juicy, aromatic, low in acid. Very high-scoring in taste
test. Chilling requirement of 250-300 hours. Self-fruitful.
* Desert Gold: Very early ripening: mid-May in Arizona.
Tree-ripened fruit has good flavor and sweetness for such an early
variety. Yellow Clingstone. Heavy bearing. Chilling requirement
of 250 hours. Self-fruitful.
*Desert Red: An excellent quality, firm cling peach
that has good color. Produces large fruit when thinned and girdled.
Chilling requirement of 200-300 hours. Self-fruitful.
*Earligrande: Medium size, low-chill peach from Gulf
Coast Texas. Yellow semi-freestone. Very early (May). Successful
in Arizona and similar climates. Chilling requirement of 275 hours.
Evas Pride: Delicious, fine-flavored peach with
very low-chilling requirement. Medium- to large-sized yellow freestone.
Ripens early-to-late May. Chilling requirement of 100-200 hours.
Flordaking: High quality early season peach. Large,
firm, flavorful semi-freestone, very sweet when fully ripe. Mid-May
in warm winter climates. Chilling requirement 450 hours or less.
*Flordaprince: From Florida, successfully grown in
Arizona. Yellow, semi-cling, larger fruit than Desert Gold, more
tolerant of desert heat. Ripens late April to early May in Arizona.
Very good quality when tree-ripe. Chilling requirement of 150
Flordagrande: Excellent yellow-fleshed semi-freestone
peach. Flesh will have some red coloration at maturity. Requires
less than 100 chill hours.
May Pride: Very early-ripening, semi-freestone peach
for warm winter climates. Ripens in May with Desert Gold. Delicious,
sweet and tangy fruit. Very large for such an early peach. Large,
showy pink blossoms. Chilling requirement 175 - 200 hours. Self-fruitful.
Mid-Pride: Best yellow freestone for warm winter climates.
Mid-season peach. Chilling requirement of 250 hours. Self-fruitful.
*Tropic Beauty: Excellent quality yellow flesh, firm
freestone peach. Produces a large fruit when thinned and girdled
properly. Chilling requirement of 100-200 hours. Good for the
low desert. Self-fruitful. Ripens early May.
*Tropic Snow: Medium-sized fruit. Skin is white with
red blush. White sweet flesh. Good flavor. Freestone. Ripens early
May. Chilling requirement 175-200 hours. Self-fruitful.
*Tropic Sweet: Good quality freestone, yellow-fleshed
peach. Fruit are very large when thinned and girdled properly.
Ripens just after Tropic Beauty. Chilling requirement of 100-200
hours. Self-fruitful. Ripens mid-May.
Vallegrande: This is an excellent quality, semi-freestone,
yellow-fleshed peach. Flesh is firm and ripens to 60% blush at
maturity. Flesh becomes red as fruit matures. Chilling requirement
of 100-200 hours. Self-fruitful. Ripens early May.
|Flordahome: Very nice quality,
sweet, smooth-textured, juicy, flavorful. Early bloom. Chilling
requirement less than 400 hours. Partly self-fruitful.
Kieffer: Medium to large
late season fruit. Canning/cooking. Sprightly flavor, coarse
texture. Resists fireblight, tolerates hot climates. Dependable
crops. 350 hours. Self-fruitful.
|Shinseiki: Juicy, sweet,
refreshing, crisp like an apple. Easy to grow. Keeps well. Harvest
June in the desert. Bright yellow skin. Vigorous, heavy bearing.
Chilling requirement of 350-400 hours. Self-fruitful.
Yakumo: Early harvest,
before Shinseiki. Slight tapered neck, instead of round shape
of other Japanese pears. Very nice quality - sweet, juicy, refreshing.
Crisp like apple when ripe. Chilling requirement of 450 hours.
Fuyu (Jiro) (Apple
Persimmon): Medium size, flat shape, still hard when ripe,
non-astringent. Cool or hot climate. Hardy, attractive tree,
practically pest free. Chilling requirement 200 hours. Self-fruitful.
Giant Fuyu: Larger, not
so flat as Fuyu. Crunchy when ripe like Fuyu. Sweet, flavorful,
non-astringent. Easy to grow, cool or hot climates. Chilling
requirement of 200 hours. Self-fruitful.
Izu: Very sweet, tasty,
non-astringent. Fruit ripen about three weeks before Fuyu. Medium
to large size, round shape. Relatively small tree, good choice
for backyard persimmon. Sometimes difficult to start from bareroot.
Chilling requirement of 100 hours. Self-fruitful.
|Beauty: Sweet, flavorful
plum. Red over yellow skin, amber flesh streaked red. Chilling
requirement of 250 hours. Self-fruitful.
*Gulf Gold: Green-skinned
plum which turns yellowish when ripe. Juicy, sweet, yellow flesh.
Chilling requirement of 250 hours. Self-fruitful.
*Gulf Ruby: Sweet, juicy
plum, with reddish-purple skin and amber flesh.Chilling requirement
of 250 hours. Self-fruitful.
Methley: Juicy, sweet, red flesh, mild flavor. Reddish
purple skin. Attractive tree, heavy bearing and vigorous. Chilling
requirement of 250 hours. Self-fruitful.
*Santa Rosa: Most popular
plum in California and Arizona. Juicy, tangy, flavorful. Reddish-purple
skin, amber flesh tinged red. Chilling requirement of 300 hours.
|Orange Quince: Large, round,
bright yellow fruits often exceed 1 lb. Flavorful, aromatic, used
for cooking. Early harvest. Old variety. Cold hardy, yet low chilling
requirement of 300 hours. Self-fruitful.
Pineapple Quince: Heavy
crops of large, tart fruit used in baking, jams, and jellies.
Profuse, ornamental bloom. Cold hardy, yet low chilling requirement
of 300 hours. Self-fruitful.
Medium to large. Soft shelled with good quality sweet kernels.
Classified semi-dwarf to 15 feet. Chilling requirement of 500
hours (may not be suited for Salt River Valley). Self-fruitful.
Number 1 almond for home orchards.
*Garden Prince Genetic Dwarf:
Compact, lushly foliated 10-12 foot tree. Soft shell, kernels
especially sweet and tasty. Bears young and heavy. Chilling
requirement of 250 hours. Self-fruitful.
*Neplus Ultra: Large soft-shelled
nut, long broad flat kernel. Chilling requirement of 250 hours.
Needs pollenizer. Best pollenizer: Nonpareil.
Nonpareil Almond: No. 1
commercial almond, the standard of quality. Inter-fruitful with
All-In-One and Neplus. Chilling requirement 400 hours. Pollenizer
|*Cheyenne: Bears heavy and
early. Nuts are medium size, soft shell, with excellent kernel
quality. Tree is somewhat susceptible to limb breakage; slow growing
*Choctaw: Tree is vigorous
and is an excellent producer. Moderately precocious. Produces
pecans of outstanding quality. Shells are thin and cracks into
half kernels very easily.
*Comanche: Medium to large
sized nuts, nearly round, thin shelled. Good producer, nut quality
is excellent. Nuts tend to sprout.
*Sioux: Good producer with
small to medium sized nuts with outstanding kernel quality.
A little slow to begin producing, moderately precocious.
*Western Schley (Western):
Easy to grow, nut long, tapered, medium sized, thin-shelled,
good kernel quality. Self-fruitful. Early bearing 4 to 5 years.
Recommended for single tree planting in home garden. Less affected
by zinc deficiency than other cultivars. Precocious and prolific.
Tendency for nuts to sprout (pregerm) in the low desert.
*Wichita: Highly flavored,
medium to large sized nuts are well-filled, soft shell. Plump,
rich, distinctively flavored kernel. Bears heavy at young age.
Pollinators are Cheyenne or Western Schley. Prone to zinc deficiency.
Strong tendency for nuts to sprout(pregerm) in the low desert.
|*Cardinal: Clusters large
to medium in size. Very large, seeded, cherry red berries become
reddish black with maturity. Use for arbor or summer house. Spur
*Exotic: Berries are black,
large, seeded, crisp and sweet. Berry irregular to oval in shape
and has large clusters. Ripen in July. Spur pruned.
*Fantasy: Large, black,
seedless berry used for table or raisin. Excellent flavor. Ripens
in July. Cane pruned.
*Flame seedless: light
red, seedless, crisp, sweet berry. Cool nights are required
for full color development. Ripens June - July. Spur pruned.
*Perlette: Pale green,
round, crisp, juicy seedless medium sized berry. Larger than
Thompson, unique flavor - mild aromatic in flavor. Spur pruned,
ripens in June.
*Ruby seedless: Dark red,
sweet, crisp, excellent fresh or raisin. Ripens after Thompson
seedless. Chilling requirement of 100 hours, self-fruitful.
Ripens in June. Spur pruned.
*Thompson seedless: Most
popular grape. Green, seedless berry, fresh or raisin. Very
sweet. Self-fruitful. Chilling requirement of 100 hours. Ripens
mid June - July. Cane pruned.
|Tomari Male: Pollenizer
for Vincent Female. Does not bear fruit. One male can pollinate
up to eight Vincent females.
Vincent Female: Low chilling
required, which is adapted to Southern California. Tasty, well-regarded
fuzzy skinned fruit. Pollinated by Tomuri male.
|*Brazos: Very vigorous,
thorny, erect plant which produces an abundance of large high
quality berries. Berries are large, attractive appearance and
heavy yields, tart acid flavor.
*Rosborough: Vigorous moderately
upright canes which produces well in a wide variety of soil
and climatic conditions. Fruit are large, attractive in appearance
and have a sweeter flavor than Brazos.
|*Camerosa: Plants are large
and vigorous. Fruit are large, firm wedge shaped berries of good
*Chandler: Plant is large
and vigorous. Produces nice berries which are smaller than Camerosa,
but tend to be sweeter.
*Sequoia: Produces a big
vigorous plant. Fruit are large, wedge shaped of high quality,
but soft when ripe.
*Tioga: This plant is very
large and vigorous with big, dark green glossy leaves. Fruit
are very large, firm wedge shaped berries of medium quality.
5 page table as PDF file (133 mbyte file)
showing chilling hours,
fruit color, heavy bearing, alternate bearing, cross polluation, and free stone information for each variety, as well as harvesting times for the Low Desert