With the renewed interest in plants, gardening and growing food, fruit production is often overlooked. While vegetable gardens are started anew in spring and fall, growing fruit tends to be a long-term commitment. Fruit production occurs on trees and perennial shrubs, although not exclusively.
I would venture a guess that most gardeners have tried to grow strawberries at one time or another. I would also guess that the fruits of that labor have been disappointing. Part of the problem is that strawberry plants show up in the spring, when we needed to have them in the ground in September or October. In order to find strawberry plants at the right time, you may need to look online or talk to a local garden center about having availability in the fall.
Timing and availability is also an issue for fruit trees. They prefer to be planted in the fall (as do all trees in Texas) but stores carry them in the spring. Additionally, variety selection is of the upmost importance. Some retailers carry the same fruit trees nation-wide in all their stores, so don’t assume if it’s being sold in Denton county that it will thrive in Denton county. Many local conditions need to be considered such as soil drainage, soil pH, chilling hours and nighttime temperatures when selecting fruit trees. To do your own research on varieties and specific requirements visit https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/fruit-nut/.
I have painted a dismal picture of growing fruit in our area, but it’s actually quite feasible. The Denton County Grove at the Sandy Jacobs Government Center in Carrollton, is a demonstration site for pecans, peaches, grapes, jujubes, pomegranates and many other fruits. The Grove is always open to visitors, the plants selected do well in our area and they are labeled so you know what you are looking at.
We also have local growers of peaches, strawberries, blackberries and pecans (to name a few). Some of these operations are pick-your-own which can turn a shopping experience into a lesson on agriculture and food production. What you may not realize is that AgriLife Extension is here to support commercial producers. To that end, we are hosting a workshop for commercial strawberry production October 14. For more information or to register go to Denton.AgriLife.org/strawberry.
North Texas is also home to many vineyards and we even have viticulture specialist Michael Cook housed in our office. Michael works regionally to support grape production specifically for wine making. Check out Facebook (facebook.com/TXViticulture) to learn about upcoming events such as the December 3 Viticulture and Enology Research Symposium in College Station.
Many popular fruits can be quite fussy to grow; but a tree-ripened peach is hard to beat! Maybe you are up for the challenge or maybe you’d rather leave it to the professionals. Just don’t forget to support your local farmers!
For more information on growing fruit or our educational programs send an email to [email protected] or call 940.349.2892.