The Best Time to Plant Fruit Trees in Wisconsin

The average American eats about 65 apples each year, and many of them come from Wisconsin. Wisconsin gardeners also grow pears, plums, sour cherries and other fruits. Choosing when to plant your fruit trees is just as important as choosing the right cultivar.

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Wisconsin apple trees grow in back yards and commercial orchards.

Find Frost Dates

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Northern last frost dates may come 45 days later than in southern Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, the average last killing frosts occur from April 26 to May 16 in the south and from mid-May through the first week in June in the north. Northern hard frosts begin mid-to-late September, extending to late October farther south. Determining the average frost dates for your area helps you decide when to plant. Fall plantings must be made at least a month before the first frost, and spring plantings should be done well after the last frost.

Hardy Varieties

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McIntosh is one of Wisconsin's favorite apple varieties.

Apple varieties well-suited for Wisconsin's extremely cold temperatures include Red Delicious, McIntosh, Gala and Empire. European pear varieties grow throughout the state, but peaches and sweet cherries thrive only in the warmer, southeast part of Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin Extension's publications provide complete lists of appropriate fruit trees.

Packaging

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Spring planting gives trees enough time to prepare for fall's early freeze.

Container-grown trees can be planted in early spring or fall in Wisconsin, but bare-root trees must be planted in spring. The UW Extension recommends planting both types of stock as soon as trees are available in local nurseries in spring.