Fruit Growing

Fruit Growing


(1) A branch of horticulture, the growing of fruit plants over isolated areas of land or in orchards for their fruit (including berries and nuts). Fruit growing involves the raising of pip, drupe, nut, and berry crops, as well as nursery cultivation. Subtropical fruit growing and the raising of citrus plants are usually considered to be independent branches of horticulture.

Fruits, berries, and nuts have high nutritional value. They contain a large quantity of sugars, including fructose, glucose, and sucrose. For example, pips, drupes, and berries have a sugar content of 13–17 percent. Dried figs, persimmons, and apricots contain as much as 75 percent sugar. Fruits also contain fats (as much as 77 percent in walnuts, pecans, pistachios, and almonds), organic acids (malic and citric acids), minerals, aromatic substances, provitamin A, and vitamins C, B1, B2, B6, P, and PP. Black currants, the fruits of Actinidia, and underripe walnuts are particularly rich in vitamin C. Nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, filberts, almonds, and pistachios, contain 15–22 percent protein. Their caloric value is nearly equal to that of butter and higher than that of fish, meat, and bread.

Fruit has a number of properties that account for its great significance in the diet and in dietotherapy. Winter apple and pear varieties, nuts, and frozen drupes (plums, cherries) and berries (raspberries, strawberries) are capable of withstanding prolonged storage and distant transport. Fruit may be dried or processed into preserves, compotes, pastilles, marmalade, jam, confections, jelly, juices, syrups, wines, and ethyl alcohol. Hence, fruit products can be consumed year-round. Many fruit plants are décoratives and are used for landscaping cities and other populated areas. Almost all fruit and berry plants are good nectar bearers.

History. Fruit growing is one of the oldest branches of horticulture. Fruit and berry crops are native to Southeast Asia, Middle Asia, Transcaucasia, and the Mediterranean coast. Ancient written sources mention fruit cultivation in Babylon and Assyria in 3000 B.C., in China in 2000 B.C., in India in roughly 2000 B.C., in the Crimea in 700 B.C., and in Greece between 400 and 300 B.C. It is believed that apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, olives, and pomegranates have been cultivated for more than 4,000 years. Sweet cherries, cherry plums, and lemons have been raised for more than 2,000 years. In what is now the USSR, fruit crops were cultivated 2,000 to 5,000 years ago in Middle Asia (Sogdiana and Fergana) and Transcaucasia (Bactria and Armenia).

During the feudal period and, especially, in the Middle Ages, fruit growing spread to Western Europe, particularly to France. At this time it was pursued on fiefs and in monasteries and was essentially natural in character. With the development of capitalism and the formation of a world market, methods of cultivation of fruit and berry plants were improved.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, fruit growing developed intensively in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Great Britain. In Germany the cultivation of fruit crops intensified in the 19th century. During this period many valuable varieties of fruit crops were developed. These included the apples Bilé rozmarinove, Loskrieger, London Pippin, and Calville Blanche and the pears Winter Dechantsbirne (Easter Beurré), Beurré Bosc, and Belle des Bois. Large commercial orchards appeared in the 19th century in Western Europe and the USA.

In Kievan Rus’, fruit growing first developed in the tenth century in monasteries and on princely domains. In the 15th and 16th centuries orchards for the cultivation of apples, pears, cherries, plums, and gooseberries were located in Moscow and its environs. Lemons, oranges, peaches, and apricots were raised in greenhouses. In the same period cultivation of wild and garden strawberries began. In the 18th century, fruit growing developed significantly in southern and southwestern Russia and outside Moscow. This was encouraged by the publication of scientific literature on fruit cultivation in the late 18th and early 19th century. In Russia, especially in the Crimea, Middle Asia, and the central European portion, fruit growing became a commercial enterprise in the early 19th century. However, its development was inhibited by the general backwardness of pre-revolutionary Russia, the country’s inadequate system of communication, the lack of refrigerators, and the absence of a fruit-processing industry.

In the USSR. The development of fruit growing in the USSR has been fostered by the socialist reconstruction of agriculture, large capital investments, increased mechanization, improved organization of labor, and the introduction of scientific advances.

The area occupied by orchards and berry plantings has grown from 665,000 hectares (ha) in 1917 to 3,734,000 ha in 1973. In the latter year, orchards occupied 1,293,000 ha in the RSFSR, 1,188,000 ha in the Ukrainian SSR, 167,000 ha in the Byelorussian SSR, 192,000 ha in the Uzbek SSR, 110,000 ha in the Kazakh SSR, 178,000 ha in the Georgian SSR, 145,000 ha in the Azerbaijan SSR, 55,000 ha in the Lithuanian SSR, 162,000 ha in the Moldavian SSR, 40,000 ha in the Latvian SSR, 52,000 ha in the Kirghiz SSR, 64,000 ha in the Tadzhik SSR, 52,000 ha in the Armenian SSR, 19,000 ha in the Turkmen SSR, and 17,000 ha in the Estonian SSR. The gross fruit, berry, and nut harvest in 1973 was 8,768,000 tons.

Advanced kolkhozes and sovkhozes produce abundant fruit harvests. In 1968–69, the Agronom Sovkhoz in Krasnodar Krai produced 144 quintals of fruit per ha on an area of 1,022 ha. At the V. I. Lenin Kolkhoz in Stavropol’ Krai, an eight-year-old orchard yielded, on dwarf stocks, 200–420 quintals of fruit per ha. Large commercial orchards have been established on sovkhozes and kolkhozes. For example, the orchard that was organized at Sad-Gigant Sovkhoz in Krasnodar Krai in 1929 has an area of more than 2,000 ha. In 1970 an interkolkhoz orchard was established in Moldavia on an area of more than 3,000 ha. Along with the large orchards there are thousands of smaller ones. Farm and collective fruit growing are developing rapidly, as are nurseries that raise planting material for fruit crops.

The diversity of soil and climatic conditions in the USSR makes possible the cultivation of a variety of fruit crops (34 commercially and 18 by amateur gardeners). Owing to varietal regionalization and the development of winter-hardy varieties, fruit growing has advanced in the Soviet North, the Urals, Siberia, and the Far East. In these regions the total area occupied by orchards before 1917 did not exceed 300 ha.

The fruit-growing regions of the USSR are conventionally divided into three zones. Each zone is characterized by different fruits and different methods of cultivation. The southern zone includes the southern regions of the Kazakh SSR, the Northern Caucasus, Transcaucasia, the Crimea and other parts of the Ukraine, the Moldavian SSR, and the republics of Middle Asia. Drupes produced in this zone include peaches, apricots, sweet cherries, and plums. Apples, pears, English walnuts, filberts, pistachios, and almonds are produced, as are subtropical fruits and grapes. Berry cultivation is poorly developed. A great number of the orchards in the southern fruit-growing zone are irrigated.

The central fruit-growing zone occupies the northern Ukraine, Byelorussia, the Central Chernozem Zone, the Central Nonchernozem Zone, and the Volga Region. Close to this zone are the Northwest USSR, the Baltic Region, and some regions of Kazakhstan. Apples and cherry plums are most commonly cultivated; pears and plums are raised less extensively. Berry culture is highly developed. The following apple varieties are most common: Antonovka, Anise, Borovinka, Korichnoe Polo-satoe, and Moscow Grushovka. Cherry plum varieties include the Vladimir, Shubinka, and Liubskaia; among the plum varieties are the Ochakovskaia and Ziuzinskaia. Fruit growing is common in regions near large cities (for example, outside Moscow, Leningrad, Gorky, and Kazan) and industrial centers.

The northeastern fruit-growing zone includes the Northern European USSR, the Urals, Siberia, and the Far East. Local winter varieties of apple, such as Ranetka, predominate. Berry crops, such as currants, are of relatively great importance in the zone. Trailing varieties of fruit trees are being introduced, making it possible to grow large-fruit varieties of apple under severe continental conditions. Plums and pears are widely grown in the Far East.

In the USSR approximately 10,000 fruit varieties are grown, of which about 1,500 are recommended for commercial cultivation. (Pomology is concerned with the study and description of varieties of fruit crops.) In each fruit-growing zone and each region, regionalized varieties of fruit and berry crops have been developed. Fruit nurseries propagate the varieties regionalized in their zone according to established ratios.

The future of fruit growing is closely associated with a better distribution of fruit plantings and with the adoption of more intensive methods of cultivation. Fruit production will be increased through the use of dwarf apple and pear varieties as stocks and by the creation of varieties that have flat crowns, that can withstand a smaller feeding area, that are less tall, and that bear fruit yearly. Also needed are an increase in the area occupied by irrigated orchards, a decrease in the number of varieties, greater mechanization of work, increased fertilization, and the development of the fruit-processing industry. Increased fruit production is also possible by harvesting the wild fruits, berries, and nuts that occupy an area of 7–10 million ha in the USSR. The annual yield is as high as 4 million tons.

Worldwide. Fruit plantings occupy a broad zone in both hemispheres, embracing the temperate, subtropical, and tropical zones from 60° N lat. to 60° S lat. The temperate and subtropical zones of the northern hemisphere are most diverse in the types of fruits cultivated. Approximately 200 different fruits, berries, and nuts are cultivated in the world. Of these, about 100, embracing thousands of varieties, are grown commercially. The most common fruits are the apple, olive, date palm, banana, and mango.

Fruit and berry crops occupy an area of 2.7 million ha in China, 1.6 million ha in the United States, 913,000 ha in India, 541,000 ha in Argentina, 435,000 ha in Yugoslavia, 419,000 ha in Brazil, 328,000 ha in Japan, 425,000 ha in Italy, 286,000 ha in Poland, and 208,000 ha in France. Small orchards of 10–20 ha (rarely 100 ha or more) predominate in the United States, Argentina, and European countries. In many countries only a small number of varieties of a fruit crop are grown. For example, in the United States six apple varieties—Delicious, McIntosh, Jonathan, Winesap, Golden Delicious, and Rome Beauty—yield approximately 80 percent of the apples produced commercially.

(2) The science that studies the structure, growth, development, reproduction, and fruit bearing of fruit, berry, and nut crops. The science of fruit growing elaborates the scientific bases of the different methods of cultivation for various crops, varieties, and fruit-growing regions. The science and the experiments closely associated with it were in a rudimentary state prior to the October Revolution of 1917. The 13 experiment stations for fruit growing that existed at that time (in Sochi, Sukhumi, Tashkent) had been established only at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Limited research was begun at the Nikitskii Botanical Garden in 1812 and at the Petrovskoe Agricultural and Forestry Academy (now the K. A. Timiriazev Moscow Agricultural Academy) in 1865. Research was also conducted at the Nikitskii, Penza, and Uman’ schools of orcharding.

The development of fruit growing as a science was furthered greatly by the Russian scientists A. T. Bolotov, M. V. Rytov, R. I. Shreder, L. P. Simirenko, N. I. Kichunov, V. V. Pash-kevich, A. S. Grebnitskii, and I. V. Michurin. Bolotov described more than 600 local varieties of apple and pear, and Michurin developed a large number of valuable varieties of apple, cherry plum, and pear.

After 1917, fruit growing and experiments in fruit cultivation developed vigorously. In 1920 the Moscow Agricultural Academy established the Soviet Union’s first chair for the study of fruit growing. By 1972, 18 institutions of higher education and 60 technicums had departments and divisions of fruit growing. A network of 16 research institutes and 50 experiment stations has been established. In addition, departments of fruit growing have been opened at 17 research institutes of agriculture.

The principal scientific institutions dealing with the cultivation of fruit plants are the I. V. Michurin All-Union Scientific Research Institute for Fruit Growing (in the city of Michurinsk), the Central Genetic Laboratory (in Michurinsk), the All-Union Institute of Horticulture (Leningrad), the Nikitskii Botanical Garden (Yalta), and the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Tea and Subtropical Crops (in the city of Makharadze). The All-Union Institute of Horticulture has a department of fruit growing. The research conducted at all these scientific institutions and at institutions of higher education is coordinated by the V. I. Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Achievements in the study of the biology of fruit and berry crops have been significant. Academician V. V. Pashkevich did important research on pollination, and Professor V. A. Kolesnikov and Academician T. K. Kvaratskheliia have done extensive work on the root systems of fruit and berry plants. The theoretical foundations of fruit growing in the USSR were laid by P. G. Shitt, who established the age periods of fruit and berry crops, the cyclic renewal of fruiting and growth organs, morphological parallelism, and the stages of development of fruit and berry plants.

Soviet plant breeders have developed a large number of varieties of fruit and berry crops, which are included in regionalized sets as they are tested. Breeders in the Urals and Siberia have obtained winter-hardy apple varieties. Important work on the comparative study and selection of the best varieties of fruit and berry crops is being conducted by the State Commission on Strain Testing of the Ministry of Agriculture of the USSR with the aid of 300 strain-testing districts.

In Western Europe, the science of fruit growing arose in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Research institutes and experiment stations for fruit growing and institutions of higher education where fruit growing is taught were opened in the first quarter of the 20th century. The following scientists have been important in the science of fruit growing: R. K. Knight and W. S. Rogers (Great Britain); L. H. Bailey, H. B. Tukey, W. H. Chandler, and N. F. Childers (USA); R. Goethe (Germany); Ŭ. Ctoutkob (Bulgaria); N. Constantinescu (Rumania); M. Coutanceau (France); G. Friedrich (German Democratic Republic); and P. G. de Haas (Federal Republic of Germany).

In the USSR the journal Sadovodstvo (Gardening, published since 1838) discusses fruit cultivation. American journals dealing with the subject include Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science (Geneva-New York, since 1903) and American Fruit Growers (Willoughby, since 1880). Other journals include Jardins de France (Paris, since 1827), Revue horticole (Paris, since 1829), and Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society (London, since 1846). Fruit cultivation is also discussed in Archiv für Gartenbau (Berlin, since 1953), which is published in the German Democratic Republic, and in Gradina via şi livada (Bucharest, since 1952), which is a Rumanian publication.

International congresses on fruit growing have been held since 1952 in Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and the United States.


Plodovodstvo, 2nd ed. Edited by V. A. Kolesnikov. Moscow, 1966.
Dragavtsev, A. P., and G. V. Trusevich. Iuzhnoe plodovodstvo. Moscow, 1970.
Rybakov, A. A., and S. A. Ostroukhova. Plodovodstvo Uzbekistana. Tashkent, 1972.
Kolesnikov, V. A. Chastnoe plodovodstvo. Moscow, 1973.


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