The quince: characteristics and cultivation

The quince it is an ancient fruit tree: I am over 2000 years which is known and cultivated. It appears to be from Crete, its scientific name Cydonia oblonga could derive from the ancient name of the Greek island. Although it is often called quince and sometimes pear quince, this tree is not actually a sub-variety of the apple tree, but rather a plant with its own characteristics, to apple and pear it belongs to the class of pomaceous.

Today he considers himself a minor fruit, or ancient fruit, and is a little out of use. Apples have been more successful commercially, definitely sweeter, even if the quince deserves to be rediscovered for its particular flavor, especially suitable for preparing jams or in the very good quince.

There cultivation of quince it is enougha similar to that of the apple tree and we can successfully manage this plant in an organic orchard, or at least using only natural methods. Let's see in detail the characteristics of the plant, the place suitable for planting it and the cultivation technique, from planting to pruning.

The quince: characteristics

The quince it is the only species of genus Cydonia, belongs to the large family of rosaceae and we classify it among fruit trees as pomacea (like the aforementioned apple, pear and nashi trees), it is a fairly modest tree.

Her foliage tends to be regular and harmonious already in a natural way, we can then discipline it with the right pruning operations that we will see later, it is still a tree of good effect ornamental in garden contexts. Has leaves green, covered with a light down and about 8 cm long, which fall in winter. The quince tree blooms in late spring or early summer, usually in May.

The fruit of the quince

The fruit looks a lot like an apple, often deformed. When it is unripe it is covered with a whitish down, which loses with maturation, revealing one nice yellow skin. the pulp is light in color and oxidizable when exposed to oxygen, i seeds they are numerous, arranged in a double row in the center of the fruit, surrounded by a mucilage.

Suitable climate and terrain

Climate. The quince is a cold tolerant tree, the almost summer flowering period protects the plant from the risk of late frosts. It is therefore a rustic plant, which can be grown in different areas of Italy. Even if it tolerates summer heat well, in too hot areas it can have problems producing due to lack of cold winter hours.

Exposure. It is a species that produces well in full sun exposure, on average sheltered from the wind.

Land indicated. It is a fruit tree that has a good ability to adapt to different types of soil and is also satisfied with poor soil, as long as there is no excess of limestone and water stagnation. The soil pH must be acid or sub acid.

Plant a quince tree

The right moment to plant a quince sapling is the period of vegetative stasis, from November until the beginning of spring. Where the climate is harsh, it is better to wait the end of February so as not to expose the newly transplanted seedling to intense frosts.

The rootstock. Before planting a quince it is good to choose the plant that best suits the characteristics of the soil in which it will be planted. In this the choice of rootstock, on which we can get advice in the nursery. For the quince tree they can be usedthe same rootstocks of the pear tree, generally the wild quince is chosen.

Pollination and variety. Most varieties of quince are self-sterile, so to have production it is important to have two different varieties. Even the self-fertile varieties give better results with cross pollination, which is why we must always think about having more than one variety for the purpose of good pollination.

Digging the hole. Once the variety has been decided and the plant obtained, we proceed with planting. To plant a quince we first need to dig a hole 50 x 50 x 50 cm, so that the roots have plenty of loose soil in which to develop. During the excavation it is worth keeping the more superficial earth, home to aerobic microorganisms, separate from that of depth, when filling it is good to keep the same order, to better maintain fertility.

The planting. L'bare root sapling must be positioned in the hole, filling with earth, making sure that the shrub remains straight and at the right height, take the collar as a reference. In the last 10 cm of soil we can mix some compost or manure well ripe, as fertilizer. Once the hole is completely filled let's compact the earth next to the newly planted sapling e we water abundantly.

Planting layouts. The distance between one plant and another depends on the rootstock chosen (if more or less vigorous) and on the training system (if flat or in volume). On average, the quince kept in palmette is 3 meters away from the other plants and 4 meters on the rows, if instead you keep the plant in a pot you will need to stay wider, keeping 5-6 meters between the trees.

Grow quince in pots

There pot cultivation of quince is possible, though you shouldn't expect great results in terms of production and plant size. You need a large container, to be filled with a soil tending to acid and well fertilized, the plant must then be regularly wetted.

Considering that the apple tree and the pear tree are much more common plants it is easy to find dwarf varieties, which are definitely more suitable to keep in pots. For this it may be preferable to choose one of these species, rather than forcing a quince in a space that would prove to be cramped over time.

The cultivation of quince

Irrigation. In some cases it is useful to irrigate the quince, in particular in particularly dry summers, also considering that the plant bears fruit in the hottest months. L'drip plant it is the best method, also for the purpose of preventing disease problems due to excess moisture in the foliage.

Soil management. The management of the land of the orchard can be carried out in various ways, generally it is chosen based on the characteristics of one's cultivation. A very advantageous method, due to the little work it entails, is thecontrolled grassing, perhaps supplemented by a little mulch near the plants.

Fertilization. Every year it is good to replenish the supply of nutrients, as explained in the article on fertilizing the orchard.

How to prune the quince

Form of farming. As anticipated when speaking of planting layouts, the two most common forms of cultivation for quince are palmette and vase, the first is suitable for professional orchards, while in the garden it is preferred to keep the crown in volume, so that the tree is raised to vase or globe. An interesting study is the article dedicated to the best shapes for the orchard.

Pruning. Quince is a plant that by its nature has one fairly neat hair, for this reason the cutting needs are limited. The important thing is to take care of maintenance, eliminating dry or diseased parts, but also unproductive parts (suckers is suckers basal). Once a year we can do more selection work, thinning out any areas that are too dense and shortening older branches with back cuts. In this case it is important to leave the branches loaded with toasts, which are the key formation for the production of flowering buds.

Thin out the fruits. It can also be useful on quince thin out the fruit, although less often than the apple tree. It is advisable to evaluate each vintage if it is necessary to remove excess fruit, in order to favor those that remain in quality and size. The tree often tends to make a natural fall, regulating itself independently.

Diseases and harmful insects

The adversity that can afflict this crop are in all respects ssimilar to those that affect other pome fruit, so apple and pear. We therefore suggest reading the following texts:

  • Diseases of apple and pear trees.
  • Parasites of apple and pear trees.
  • The carpocapsa or apple worm.

Quince chlorosis. A possible leaf yellowing it could be not a real disease but one physiopathy, due to a calcareous soil that inhibits the absorption of useful microelements.

Harvesting of quinces

The harvest takes place at maturity, which, depending on the climate and variety, usually ranges during autumn between September and October. Since the quince loses the fluff on the skin and turns yellow it is better to wait a little to seize the right moment we can recognize it by nose, seen the excellent perfume of these fruits, or by trying to detach them and checking how firm is the petiole. When the fruit is ripe it will be very easy to remove the quince from the branch by hand.

Use of quinces

Quinces in general they are not eaten raw, because the pulp tends to be astringent and acidic, even if it has a peculiar and very pleasant taste and aroma. More often they are used for jams and sweets or in any case cooked. There jam and the quince they are certainly the most famous products made with this fruit, in combination with sugar the result is perfect.

The varieties of the fruit

There are various types of quince, we can operate a first subdivision according to the shape of the fruit, dividing into honeydew, which therefore resemble apple, and periformi, also called quince pears, because they are more reminiscent of pear. Another important classification lies in identifying the ornamental quinces or flowering quinces, which are kept in gardens for purposes other than productive quinces.

Meliformi: variety of quince

Among the maliforms we remember the Tencara quince, selected in Emilia and very productive, the Champion, characterized by small fruits and a modest bearing and the Portuguese quince, recognizable by the ribs on the fruits (which also make it quite boring to peel ).

Periform: variety of quince pear

Quince pears are available in different varieties: Lescovatz and Gigante di Vrania have very vigorous plants and are excellent pollinators, Berecksi has a very fragrant fruit but is not very productive.

Video: Heritage Plant Documentation (May 2021).