Garden Talk: End of Season Fruit Care

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

On Garden Talk, Larry Meiller finds out what we should to for our fruit plants and trees to successfully overwinter. Plus, great fruit varieties for Wisconsin to put on our 2014 garden wish list.

Featured in this Show

  • Growing Fruit In Wisconsin Can Be Rewarding, Delicious

    Wisconsin is well-suited to grow a variety of fruit and it doesn’t mean having acres to devote to it.

    Scott Reuss, the University of Wisconsin Extension horticulture and agriculture agent for Marinette and Florence counties, said that those looking to grow their own reap unique rewards.

    “Growing fruit is one of the joys of being out and about in the garden because of the sweetness and flavor and nutritional value,” Reuss said.

    Reuss recently took part in a UW Extension apple-tasting events where he tasted about 75 cultivars. When choosing a cultivar, taste and hardiness are equally important, he said. Tasters also want to consider if there will be more than one use that a consumer can put it to, like eating raw, cooking, and preserving. Storability is also important since the harvest is often during a condensed period of time, Reuss said.

    It’s not just apples that can do well in Wisconsin.

    “There is an expanding array of cultivars in the stone fruits that are hardy throughout the state,” Reuss said.

    While southeastern and southwestern Wisconsin will have the widest range of choices, even in the northeast part of the state where Reuss works, there are options. But checking for hardiness becomes even more important, he said.

    Reuss said he doesn’t want growers to be discouraged just because it might take a little more homework to choose the right variety for their growing conditions.

    “Stone fruits are fantastic,” he said. “There’s nothing that beats the fresh cherries, plums, apricots, peaches off of the tree.”

    If peaches seem like a stretch for Wisconsin, Reuss said that “there are a number of peach cultivars that have been selected for increasing hardiness.”

    Reuss said that the cultivar Contender has been shown to be pretty effectively grown in Wisconsin, for example. But Reuss did caution that with peaches, if Wisconsin does get a really hard winter, “they’re going to get hammered.”

    While it might seem counterintuitive, Reuss said that many of the tart cherry varieties have been bred to maximize sweetness recently. Their hardiness has also been improved. No longer just for cooking, Reuss said that they are also great for eating. North Star and Montmorency are a couple of the more common cultivars that he recommended, but Balaton and Black Gold are worth ferretting out, too.

    Getting fruit crops ready for 2014, Reuss said, “Depends a lot on what your growing conditions were for 2013.” Some parts of the state had particularly good years, while others didn’t have as good a season as the growers might have hoped.

    Regardless, Reuss said that determining the hardiness of your fruit crops is the first step in determining their needs.

    “The hardier they are, the less you need to do now to get them ready,” he said.

    If they’re a little less hardy, he recommended taking the time to protect them now to help them get through the winter with as little stress as possible.

    The UW Extension Learning Store has a large selection of publications about growing fruit in Wisconsin home gardens.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Scott Reuss Guest

Related Stories