Question: What are the best fruit trees for our area?
Answer: Growing fruit trees in the home garden or landscape can be a challenging yet rewarding activity. The idea of having a fruit tree that produces fresh fruit right in the backyard can be a rewarding hobby. Growing fruit trees can be a challenge because they commonly have disease and insect issues and lets not forget about the unfavorable weather that can affect fruit production. When growing fruit trees a gardener should remember that it is a major undertaking that will take work, persistence, and learning to accept the bad years with little to no fruit production. All that hard work and persistence can pay off when you have a good year with fresh fruit hanging from the branches.
If you are interested in planting some fruit trees in your home garden, some planning before planting will help you get off on the right foot when planting a fruit tree. Proper planning can also save some trouble and negative effects on fruit production later on down the road. The first step is to select fruit that can be grown in North Carolina. Apples, pears, peaches, and nectarines usually can be grown throughout most of North Carolina. Figs, pecans, persimmons, and plums can usually be grown in eastern North Carolina.
Variety selection is a very important step that should be considered before planting a tree. Many people believe they can try growing varieties seen in the grocery store, but these fruit varieties have often been grown in areas with a climate different from North Carolina. It is also important to consider disease resistant varieties for fruit trees like pears that will suffer from fire blight if you do not select a disease resistant variety. Pollination needs is another concern when selecting varieties. For example, pecans require two different types of varieties for pollination in order to get nut production. For more information on selecting fruit tree variety types visit the fruit tree website at www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/ag28 to get the NC Extension publication on growing fruit trees in the home garden. The publication provides a table with variety recommendations for North Carolina. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can call the Sampson County Extension Center at 910-592-7161 to request a copy of following: publication AG-28 (Producing Tree Fruit for Home Use).
Along with variety selection, site selection is a critical step that one often skips when planting fruit trees. When selecting a site for fruit trees, you should select an area that is in full sun and not shaded by houses, buildings, or other trees. Avoid sites near fences and hedgerows, which could serve as cold air traps near young trees. Avoid planting fruit trees in low-lying areas where pockets of cold air can cause frost pockets. Along with choosing a site in a full sun area, be sure that the site is in an area with well-drained soil. Avoid poorly drained soils because saturated soils or standing water will drown tree roots.
Once the site is selected for your fruit tree, go ahead and get a soil test for the area. Soil sample boxes can be obtained at the extension office. Collecting a soil test before planting a fruit tree will help determine if the soil is ideal for growing fruit trees. When you get the soil test results back and you discover that the soil is not ideal for growing fruit trees, you may want to select a new site or improve the soil in the area before planting. Ideally the soil pH should be around 6.5. Typically soils in North Carolina are on the acidic side, so chances are that you will need to incorporate lime before planting.
These are some important factors to consider before planting a fruit tree. Taking these into consideration before planting will help increase your chances of success when growing fruit trees.
Reminder: If you would like to learn more about horticultural-related topics, then join the “Sampson County Friends of Horticulture.” This program offers monthly “How To” Horticultural Seminars. Please call 910-92-7161 for more information. Please call the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center at 910-592-7161 with your horticultural questions and to register for any upcoming events. Be sure to check out the Ask An Expert Widget at sampson.ces.ncsu.edu for any questions you may have.