Monday, September 23, 2013

Plant Your Home Orchard Now

UGA Extension Specialist Bob Westerfield has written a couple of recent articles on planting a home orchard, pointing out in both that choosing the right trees for your area is an essential step toward a successful and productive orchard. Insect and disease resistance are important elements of that success, but so is timing.

In "Plant Fruit Trees Now to Create a Home Orchard," Westerfield points out that the best time is now.

The article explains much of what a homeowner needs to know to get a productive orchard started, including site selection -- emphasizing drainage and sunshine -- ground preparation, and planting. Usefully, it also explains how to select a healthy tree for planting. Westerfield recommends the purchase of one-year-old trees:
"A common mistake made by many homeowners is to select oversized or ready-to-bear nursery trees. Experience has shown that younger trees bear almost as soon, are easier to keep alive and develop into more healthy vigorous trees than do oversized stock. Older trees cost more to grow and are sold at higher prices, but are usually worth less."
In "Select Best Fruit Trees for Your Region of Georgia," Westerfield identifies fruit tree varieties that perform well in the different regions of the state.

Recommended apple trees for Cobb County include "Ginger Gold, Gala, Mollie’s Delicious, Ozark Gold, Golden Delicious, Mutzu, Yates and Granny Smith."

For pears, choose "Orient, Carrick Waite, Kieffer, Magness, Moonglow, Starking Delicious or Dawn."

For plums, he recommends the Japanese varieties  "Methley, Morris, AU Rubrum, AU Producer, Spring Satin, Byrongold and Rubysweet."

Apples hang from a tree at the University of Georgia - Mountain Research and Education Center in Blairsville, Ga. Image credit: University of Georgia.
In addition to the information in the two articles linked above, homeowners interested in starting a small orchard out in the yard can refer to the information in UGA Cooperative Extension's multiple fruit/orchard publications: "Minor Fruits and Nuts in Georgia"; "Home Garden Pears"; "Home Garden Apples"; "Home Garden Figs"; "Plums for Georgia Home Gardens"; and "Diagnostic Guide to Common Home Orchard Diseases", among others.

For additional information, or for UGA publications on fruits not listed here, contact the Cobb County Extension office at 770-528-4070.