Food Production: Growing fruit trees

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Apples on the tree

Image by Gavin Andrew Stewart CCBY2

Growing fruit is an option for anyone in North Carolina, though the types of fruit you can grow may vary depending on your location. In the NC piedmont, we can produce a variety of fruits, such as apples, figs, pears, persimmons, peaches, and plums, to name a few. Growing fruit trees requires a time commitment, and here are a few steps for success.

  • Site selection is a crucial and often overlooked component. Consider available space and available sunlight. Is there is anything that will interfere with tree planting and growth? This might include buildings, other trees, power lines, and other utilities, such as cable, internet, phone, gas, water, and sewer. Before digging, call North Carolina 811, which will contact the relevant companies to mark infrastructure that could be damaged (or cause you dam-age) during digging.
  • Sunlight is critical for fruit production, and fruit trees require a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun per day. So ensure that neither other trees nor structures are casting shade on the proposed growing area.
  • Always reference your soil sample report to identify what, if any, lime needs to be added to the soil. A soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5 is optimum for fruit tree growth. If you have questions about soil sampling, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent.

Now the fun part: picking which tree to grow. Pick the one you or your family will enjoy growing and eating. For more information on fruit trees, see the “Tree Fruits and Nuts” chapter of the NC Extension Gardener Handbook and the NC State Extension comprehensive resources for fruit trees.

—Bryan Hartman

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