How Many Fruit & Berry Plants Per Person

How Many Fruit & Berry Plants Per Person

By Melissa Norris | Gardening

Jan 10

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How many fruit & berry plants per person for a year’s worth of food do you need to plant?

Oftentimes there isn’t a lot of focus on how many fruit trees or berry plants to put into the garden in order to feed your family for a full year. The focus is typically on annual vegetables. That’s why I’m going to walk you through figuring out how many fruit trees and berry plants you need and the details you need to know to make this decision. There are a lot of factors when it comes to growing your own fruit so we’re going to tackle that today. In future episodes, we’ll cover more on caring for them.

How many fruit & berry plants per person do you need

Listen in below to the full podcast, Episode #230 How Many Fruit & Berry Plants Per Person for a Year’s Worth of Food of the Pioneering Today Podcast, where we don’t just inspire you, but give you the clear steps to create the homegrown garden, pantry, kitchen, and life you want for your family and homestead.

Benefits of Planting Fruit Trees and Berry Plants

One of the benefits of fruit trees, more so than your berry plants, is that they are perennials. That means we plant once and year after year after year it provides us with fruit without us ever having to seed start or plant it again. Now, that’s assuming the right variety was chosen and that it was put in the right spot when planted.

Many fruit trees can take up to seven years before they actually start to produce a good harvest. So with fruit trees the sooner you get them planted, the better off you are and the closer you are to getting a harvest from them.

When it comes to planting fruit bushes, aka berry plants, you may get fruit the first year with some varieties. For example, if you plant raspberries in the spring and they are an ever-bearing variety that produce an autumn crop, then you’ll be able to harvest berries that first year in the fall. Other berry types, like blueberries and elderberries, will take two to three years before you really start to get a good harvest from them. Usually, your berries though will give you a harvest faster than you’ll get from a fruit tree.

Types and Sizes of Fruit Trees

But, first, let’s talk about the different sizes and types.

Dwarf and Miniature

These are the smallest and most compact fruit trees. They usually get between 8 to 10 feet tall and wide upon maturity. The size of the fruit is not dwarf, just the size of the tree.

Benefits of a Dwarf Fruit Tree

    • The good thing about a dwarf tree is they sometimes produce fruit sooner than their larger counterparts. Possibly within as little as two years, similar to berries.
    • They are excellent candidates for growing in containers.
    • You don’t need a ladder, so there’s no climbing. They don’t get super tall.
    • They’re easier to prune and maintain.

Cons of a Dwarf Fruit Tree

    • They have a shorter life span, usually 15 to 25 years versus the standard variety, which is 50 years plus.
    • Smaller harvest. Not because the fruit is smaller, but because the tree is smaller meaning there isn’t as much fruit to harvest from it as you would get from a semi-dwarf or standard variety.

Semi-Dwarf

Semi-Dwarf trees are right in the middle and grow 12 to 15 feet tall and wide. This depends upon the root stock. Some may get a little bit taller, closer to 18 and 20 feet, but on average, upon maturity, you might need a ladder to harvest at the very top of the tree. Semi-dwarf is what we have on our homestead.

Benefits of a Semi-Dwarf Fruit Tree

    • Can be grown in containers.
    • Provides fruit faster than the standard variety.
    • Depending on the variety, you can get double to triple the harvest you would get from a dwarf tree.
    • They’ll get large enough to provide shade during really hot times of the year.

Cons of a Semi-Dwarf Fruit Tree

    • Smaller harvest than a standard variety.
    • Shorter lifespan than a standard variety of fruit tree.
    • Requires a ladder to reach the top of the tree for harvest and pruning.

Standard

Standard trees are the big boys. They can reach beyond 25 feet tall at maturity. My parents have apple trees on their property that are over 60 years old that are still producing fruit with very little pruning. They are quite sprawling since they haven’t been pruned in a number of years, but they are still producing pretty decently. My neighbor has an old standard apple tree that has fallen over in the middle of their field and it still produces fruit, even completely laying on the ground. Pretty impressive for something that was planted half a lifetime ago.

Benefits of a Standard Fruit Tree

    • Large harvest so you’ll get plenty for fresh eating, preserving, for selling, and sharing.
    • They have a long lifespan upwards of 50 years in many cases.
    • They can provide a lot of shade.

Cons of a Standard Fruit Tree

    • It takes a few more years longer for the tree to produce a harvest.
    • Definitely requires more space per tree. You’ll likely need to have some acreage if you plan on having multiple varieties. Nor do you want them too close to building and structures.
    • And you’ll definitely need a ladder for harvest and pruning on mature standard-sized trees.

How Many Fruit & Berry Plants Per Person

Keep in mind that the information I’m sharing is averages. There are several factors that affect fruit production. These factors are:

  • Variety planted
  • Climate
  • Location planted
  • Whether they have good drainage or not
  • The amount of sun they’re getting (most require six or more hours of sunlight)
  • The amount of rainfall

However, these averages will give you a good reference and starting point.

When referring to the average yield per plant of fruit trees, it’s in bushels and pecks. When it comes to berries, it’s in gallons. Don’t know what that all means? Let me lay it out for you.

Volume
Peck Gallon Quart Pint Cups
Bushel 4 8 32 64 128
Peck 2 8 16 32
Gallon 4 8 16
Quart 2 4
Pint 2

 

Fruit Trees

Let’s dive in now that we have that explained.  Wondering how many fruit trees per person?

The following averages are for one mature fruit tree for each type of fruit listed.  Trees that aren’t mature will yield a lower harvest.

Apple

Dwarf: 5 to 6 bushels
Semi-Dwarf: 10 to 15 bushels
Standard: Anywhere from 5 to 20 bushels

Apricot

Dwarf: 1 to 2 pecks
Semi-Dwarf: 1 to 2 bushels
Standard: 3 to 4 bushels

Cherry, Sweet

Dwarf: 8 to 10 gallons
Semi-Dwarf: 10 to 15 gallons
Standard: 15 to 20 gallons

Cherry, Sour (aka Tart or Pie Cherry)

Dwarf: 3 to 5 gallons
Semi-Dwarf: 12 to 18 gallons

Nectarines

Miniature: 1 to 2 pecks
Dwarf: 3 to 4 bushels
Standard: 6 to 10 bushels

Peach

Miniature: 1 to 2 pecks
Dwarf: 3 to 4 bushels
Standard: 6 to 10 bushels

Pears

Dwarf: 6 to 8 bushels
Standard: 12 to 15 bushels

Plum, European

Dwarf: 1 to 1 ½ bushels
Standard: 1 to 2 bushels

Plum, Japanese

Dwarf: 3 to 4 bushels
Semi-Dwarf: 4 to 5 bushels
Standard: 5 to 6 bushels

In reviewing these, you can really tell that based on the type of tree the actual production can vary greatly. For example, the difference between the dwarf and standard apple tree is a big difference, from six bushels for the dwarf to 20 bushels for the standard. But when you look at the Japanese plum the difference is really only two to three bushels difference.

Berries & Other Fruit

Now, let’s talk about those berries and other fruit that everyone loves. When it comes to these types of fruit, you usually need one or more plants.

Blackberry

Very prolific! I think you get the most per plant from these than any other plant.

Average Yield Per Plant: 35 to 70 cups
Recommended Number Per Person: 2 to 4 plants

Blueberry

Average Yield Per Plant: 15 to 45 cups, depending on the maturity of the plant
Recommended Number Per Person: 2 plants

Elderberry

Usually people aren’t picking and then eating elderberries like you would fresh blackberries or blueberries. They’re usually consumed in syrup, jelly or jam or used for medicinal purposes.

Average Yield Per Plant: 30 to 36 cups per mature plant
Recommended Number Per Person: 1 plant

Grape

Average Yield Per Vine (Plant): 10 to 30 cups
Recommended Number Per Person: 1 vine (plant)

Raspberry

Average Yield Per Cane (Plant): 1 to 2 quarts
Recommended Number Per Person: 10 to 25 canes (plants)

Rhubarb

Similar to asparagus where you don’t harvest from the plant the first year. It needs to get established really well. The following year, you can harvest a small amount. By the fourth or fifth year it’ll be fully mature and you can harvest it for weeks on end throughout the late spring and into summer.

Average Yield Per Crown (Plant): 6 cups
Recommended Number Per Person: 2 to 3 crowns (plants)

Strawberry

Strawberries need to be replenished every three years because the original crown becomes exhausted. You can take runners from the original plant to replenish the older plants. How many strawberry plants per person:

Average Yield Per Crown (Plant): 1 pint
Recommended Number Per Person: 20 to 25 crowns (plants)

Resources:

In podcast episode #169 I covered 5 Tips to Starting an Orchard and Growing Fruit. You’ll want to check that out. There’s nothing better than raising your own fruit and not having to buy it from the store which is why we’re talking about how to figure out how much to plant for your family’s needs.

Grow more in your garden this year with my new book The Family Garden Plan: Grow a Year’s Worth of Sustainable and Healthy Food

Order the Family Garden Plan: Raise a Year’s Worth of Sustainable and Healthy Food and all the bonuses to grow your food here . You’ll learn cold frames and season extenders, composting, and so much more!

Want the best from scratch fall recipes & harvest tips? Get your FREE copy of the Pioneering Today Magazine

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About the Author

Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.

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