Despite the cold temperatures of South Dakota a number of fruit trees can be grown successfully in the state. These include apples, pears, cherries, apricots, plums, raspberries and strawberries. Certain varieties are recommended over others based on the general growing conditions in South Dakota, the reliability of the crop and the level of disease resistance.
In apricots sungold and moongold are the two hardy varieties that are recommended for South Dakota. Though the varieties are hardy enough to bear the harsh climate, the blossoms are highly susceptible to damage by the early spring frosts. Apricots are not self fertile and both varieties have to be planted for best fruit production. It is best to plant apricot trees on the east side of the house as this leads to a delay in the appearance of blossoms whereby increasing their chances of surviving the spring frosts. Apricot trees reach a mature height of over 30 feet and start to bear fruit during the third or fourth year. A standard size apricot tree yields up to three to four bushels of fruit.
All the tart cherry varieties are recommended for South Dakota as they are hardy enough to withstand colder temperatures. Tart cherries are also self fertile and planting one tree is enough to produce a good crop. However cherry trees are early bloomers and hence there are chances of the flower buds and the young fruit getting damaged by the spring frosts. Recommended varieties of tart cherries for South Dakota include north star, meteor and mesabi. Cherry trees can grow up to 30 feet or more. Cherries generally do not extended summers and need to chill out during the winter. Cherries are highly attractive to birds who can clean out an entire tree in half an hour.
Peach trees grow very well in South Dakota since the fruits grow well in zones 4 to 8 and especially in zone 6. Most of the peach tree varieties are self fertile hence there is no need for an additional tree. Peaches rate second in popularity after apples. Peach trees require specific chilling hours below 45 degrees F to break their dormancy and start to flower. The majority of peach trees are cold hardy to temperatures of up to -5 degrees F. A few varieties like reliance, china pearl, and intrepid are resilient enough to withstand temperatures of -20 degrees F. Some good varieties include red globe, loring, suncrest and Madison.