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Growing Fruit Organically in Northwest Arkansas

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1 Growing Fruit Organically in Northwest Arkansas
Guy K. Ames, Horticulture Specialist

2 In the beginning… What are fruits and why are they so appealing? Botany of Desire! Why perennials? And why in the Ozarks?

3 So why is it so danged difficult???
Diseases and insects uncontrollable…and the heat—whew! Organic controls expensive and too often ineffective Some of our soils are poorly suited for fruit plants Big-box stores offer wrong varieties on wrong roots Cultural prejudices??? What should we be growing? So why is it so danged difficult??? The photo shows an apple with one of the summer rots (probably black rot), a serious problem for organic growers.

4 Remedy: Try “unusual” species
Get the right varieties on the right roots Shade; evaporative cooling; mulch; choose north slopes Berm, ditch, fracture, amend Optimize water retention ACCEPT SOME DAMAGE—change our notions of beauty and health. Local & fresh trumps! The top photo shows Juneberries (saskatoons). Bottom is a pawpaw.

5 Very difficult to grow organically in the Ozarks:
Most apple varieties Most pear varieties All peaches, plums unless… Most bunch grapes, but… Raspberries w/o shade Cherries…except “tart” Quince, cranberry, lingonberry, currant, etc. Kiwifruit, pomegranates, guava… yet The photo shows oozing from a peach tree, probably because of peachtree borer. Peaches and plums can be grown organically at the garden/homestead level if 1)wild plums and untended peaches are eliminated, 2) early maturing varieties are planted, 3) excellent sanitation is practiced (mostly removal of brown rot mummies), 4) ground under tree is worked up by chickens or tillers to destroy curculio pupal cases. Quince, etc. are cold-climate crops. Kiwifruit, etc. are warm-climate crops…and might bear experimenting with.

6 Serious and Common Apple Problems in AR & OKLA:
Summer rots Plum curculio Fireblight Cedar apple rust Deer, squirrels Borers! Heat Fly speck & sooty blotch Poor soil Top left: bitter rot of apples (on of the summer rots) Lower left: sooty blotch & fly speck on apples Lower center: roundhead apple tree borer larva Lower right: Plum curculio adult

7 Serious and Common Pear Problems in the Ozarks: fireblight, fireblight, and fireblight…
Slide on left is blight-resistant pear budded onto a shoot from the (blight resistant) rootstock, but immediately adjacent to blight-susceptible stump: to illustrate the power of genetic resistance.

8 Serious & Common Peach Problems in the Ozarks
Brown rot!!! Plum curculio!! Peachtree borers! Bacterial spot Oriental fruit moth June beetles Bacterial canker Root rots Peach leaf curl Photo is brown rot.

9 Serious and Common Grape Problems in the Ozarks
Black rot Downy mildew Powdery mildew Grape root borer Grape berry moth Eutypa + phomopsis=dead arm Birds June and Japanese beetles Photo: black rot

10 Do Grow: Persimmons Strawberries Blueberries if … Select Munson grapes
Elderberries Select apple varieties on MM.111 Blight-resistant pears on calleryana or ?? Muscadines Jujubes Do Grow: Photo: Yates American persimmon Blueberries if you water through the season, even after harvest, and you take care to adjust pH.

11 Do Grow (cont.): Blackberries (U of A !!!) Pawpaws! Juneberries
Tart cherries (if soil…) Raspberries w/shade … Peaches and plums IF Gooseberries Experiment with: cold-hardy figs, zombie fruit and other heat-tolerant plants Photo is Chinese melon tree, Cudrania tricuspidata. Tart cherry rootstocks need well-drained soil to avoid root rots.

12 More specifically: PEARS Europeans: Magness & Blake’s Pride Maxine
Potomac Pineapple Tyson Keiffer & Seckel* Asians: Shinko Korean Giant Koyama Clear Moon* Seuri* Top photo is Magness. Bottom is Shinko. Keiffer, Seckel, Clear Moon, and Seuri have only moderate resistance to fire blight—careful cutting out of blighted limbs necessary every year.

13 More specifically… Arkansas Black King David* Arkansaw Pristine
APPLES (on MM-111): Arkansas Black King David* Arkansaw Pristine Williams Pride Enterprise Florina Liberty * Orleans* Top photo: mix of Williams Pride and Pristine Bottom photo: Arkansas Black *King David, Liberty, and Orleans susceptible to summer rots.

14 More specifically (cont):
GRAPES: Carman Champanel America (& other Munson varieties?) Edelweiss & Swenson Red Mars* & others w/organic copper Photo: Carman

15 Pest and Disease Management
Right varieties Right site or modify Be watchful—direct action! Be patient w/beneficials Seldom intervene; right tool at the right time Diversify and prevent Accept some damage Top: Assassin bug feeding on Jap beetle on blackberries Bottom: Apple baits an electric deer fence.

16 Eco-logical Pest Management?
“Bringing knowledge to bear in a timely fashion.” “Tolerance” vs. “resistance” – keep plants healthy … But remember: “pests” have their own imperatives! Healthy, organic plants can and will still get lots of damage—tolerance means they can bounce back.

17 Processing as Part of Pest Management
Photo: Pressing apples for cider. Point is that processing fruit will allow for more pest damage than fresh fruit. Processing as Part of Pest Management

18 Experiment? Photo: Sweet cherries in high tunnel. Photo Gregory Lang, MSU

19 Soils and Fertility Heavy clay soils Rock Weathered
Low fertility (“ultisol”) Low O.M. Organic fertilizers expensive

20 Soils and Fertilizers (cont.)
Solutions: Right plant/right roots Fracture, ditch, & berm Add O.M. but … Mulch heavily Source local fertilizers and mulch Adjust pH as per soil test Don’t add too much O.M. to planting hole or you’ll create the “potted plant” effect.

21 summary Get the right plant from the start!!!
Common sense pest control Mix it up/diversify Know your soil and adjust accordingly Always mulch Accept some damage

22 ATTRA publications on fruit:
Access: or Tree Fruits: Organic Production Overview Apples: Organic Production Guide Blueberries: Organic Production Grapes: Organic Production Organic Culture of Bramble Fruits Climate Change and Perennial Fruits and Nuts: Investing in Resilience Pawpaw — A "Tropical" Fruit for Temperate Climates Peaches: Organic and Low-Spray Production Pears: Organic Production Persimmons, Asian and American Strawberries: Organic Production Plums & Apricots: Organic Production Community Orchards Cherries: Organic Production

23 Thanks to DigIn! and NCAT
Photo: Arkansas Blacks in picking bag. Note minor imperfections.

24 The End

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