When will my tree produce fruit?

One of the most common questions we get from gardeners is when will a newly planted tree produce fruit? There are many variables that will influence this, so let’s address each one of them.

The age of the tree

Fruit trees are best planted when young, they are much happier being transported and establish much more readily if they are only one or two years old. The downside of planting such a young tree is that it isn’t going to produce a big crop very quickly. Patience is the name of the game as the rewards will be much greater later on. Sourcing a more mature tree to plant will have a more instant effect but the root system will never be as strong as a tree that has been planted when young.


The type of rootstock your fruit tree is grafted onto will influence how quickly it crops. Generally, more dwarfing rootstocks will produce a crop sooner than more vigorous rootstocks which will put more energy into vegetative growth in the early years. Ultimately a bigger tree will have a higher yield but you’ll have to wait a bit longer for it! For more information about fruit rootstocks click here.

produce fruit
Victoria 1

The type of fruit

Some varieties will crop more readily than others.

Apple trees such as Scrumptious, Red Falstaff and Christmas Pippin are very reliable croppers and will produce many apples early on.

Self-fertile pears, such as Conference and Concorde, are quicker to produce fruit than other varieties if they are not planted with other pollinators.

Of the plums, Victoria is a reliable cropper but can sometimes crop too heavily so that the branches break.

Gage trees such as Old Greengage or Willingham are more shy cropping and can take a few years to get going.

Quinces may produce a few in the early years, but not many. Mulberries and Medlars can take a few years to crop well.

Soft fruit bushes, like Gooseberry Invicta or Blackcurrant Ben Sarek®, will start cropping well in the first year. Though the small plants won’t produce large amounts. It is also worth noting that many fruit trees will have a light cropping year after a heavy cropping year. This is a natural cycle called ‘biennial cropping’ and is nothing to worry about.

The season

Throughout the year, trees will perform best if the weather is just right. Ideally enough warm, sunny weather to encourage insects to pollinate the flowers in spring and plenty of bright weather to ripen the fruit through summer and autumn. Trees also need plenty of rain to help them grow, but not too much that the quality of the fruit is affected with scab. Dry periods followed by very wet spells can result in fruit splitting or dropping. Heavy rain or hail can mark the skin of the fruit. Strong winds can scorch the leaves and damage spring blossom which will hinder pollination. Most fruit trees also require a certain amount of very cold weather in the winter to enable them to set fruit properly.

Obviously, most years the weather isn’t perfect, so always bear this in mind if you are wondering why your fruit tree isn’t laden with perfect fruit. Nature can be unpredictable and variable. The best way to get a good crop of fruit is to plant several different varieties so that at least some of them will perform well.

The time of year the tree is planted

Trees are happier if planted in the autumn. As the leaves fall from the tree the sap movement decreases and the tree becomes dormant. This is the ideal time to plant it in its final home. The roots will have the winter months to settle down before spring growth and this gives the tree a good start in its first established growing year. Therefore, trees planted in autumn are more likely to produce a good crop than those planted in spring or summer.


Where a tree is planted will influence how well it fruits. Is it amongst many other plants or trees? Trees that are crowded can receive less sunlight and have more competition for nutrients in the ground. High altitude locations are not ideal for trees. Coastal areas can be too windy, damp and salty to reliably produce good quality crops of fruit. Warm, sheltered areas with plenty of sunshine are generally best, though many varieties will cope in more shady areas or cooler climates. Trees planted in containers will need a good soil, plenty of watering and fertilising to produce a reliable crop of quality fruit.


What type of soil do fruit trees need? Thankfully, fruit trees are quite tough and will do well in most types of soil. A good depth of at least a metre of soil is preferred. A medium heavy loamy soil is best which is fertile and well-draining. Clay soils are excellent at holding nutrients so are also good for trees as long as the ground isn’t waterlogged for much of the year. Very sandy soils aren’t ideal as they can lose nutrients too quickly and roots might not anchor properly. Cherries perform well on chalky soils. A very acidic soil is not ideal.

Produce fruit


Fruit trees that are properly pruned can produce better crops than trees that are never pruned. Some forms, such as espaliers and cordons, are ideal for encouraging fruiting spurs and keeping trees more compact and manageable. Click here for more detailed information about how to prune fruit trees.


Newly planted trees really benefit from regular mulching for the first few years. A layer of bark chippings around the base of the tree is ideal, spreading about 30cm from the trunk. This helps the soil to retain moisture and inhibits competition from grass and weeds. It makes it easier for the tree to develop a strong root system and grow well to produce a delicious crop.

Should you take off the fruit of a young tree?

Yes. We would advise removing all the fruit in the first growing year and half the fruit in the second growing year. Thereafter you need only thin out damaged fruit that are not worth leaving to ripen. Or thin out if the crop looks too heavy (a heavy crop can result in smaller fruit and even broken branches). Producing fruit takes a lot of the trees energy and it is better that this energy is put into growing roots in the first two or three years. Pick off the little fruitlets as soon as you see them appearing. There is no need to remove any of the fruit from soft fruit bushes.

Related Articles…

Fruit Tree Pollination

To successfully produce a good crop of fruit, the flowers …

Full Details

Harvesting and Storing Fruit

When harvesting and storing fruit a lot is dependent on …

Full Details

Tree Planting Distances

These planting distances are approximate.  There are many factors involved …

Full Details

How to Plan an Orchard

An orchard can be any planting of three or more …

Full Details