Drake column; 4-H selling berries, grapes and figs

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 13, 2012

SALISBURY — Rowan County 4-H is now taking orders for the annual Spring Plant Sale. Items available include strawberries — Allstar; raspberries — Nova; blueberries — Brightwell, Climax and Premier; blackberries — Apache and Arapaho; muscadines – Cowart and Triumph; and figs — Brown Turkey and Celeste.
Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, muscadines and figs are in one-gallon containers and are well adapted to the Piedmont growing conditions. The cost for each plant is $9 each or $8 if five or more of the same variety are ordered.
Allstar strawberries ripen mid-season. The plants are disease-resistant and produce sweet, large fruit. Growth is vigorous. Strawberries are sold in bundles of 25 for $10, 50 for $15 and 100 for $20; supplies are limited.
Nova raspberries are early-ripening red berries that are medium to large in size. The berries have good flavor, are slightly tart and are perfect for jams and preserves. Nova raspberries are noted for winter hardiness, are heat tolerant and have good disease resistance.
When planting blueberries, it is recommended to plant at least two varieties to ensure cross-pollination. Varieties available include Brightwell, Climax and Premier. Brightwell blueberries ripen mid-season over a long period. They are very productive with large fruit and excellent quality. Growth is vigorous and upright.
Climax blueberries ripen early over a short period and produce a medium-size berry with a sweet flavor. The growth is upright with an open spreading crown. Premier blueberries are large in size with excellent flavor. They ripen early to mid-season and are light blue in color. Plants are upright with good foliage.
Both blackberry plants are a thornless variety and are erect growing plants. The Apache produces large fruit with good flavor and typically ripens over a five-week period. The Arapaho is an early ripening blackberry with a firm, medium fruit. It typically ripens over a four-week period.
Cowart muscadines produce large, black fruit in large clusters with good flavor. They are good for eating, making juice, jelly and wine. Cowart ripens early to mid-season and is disease resistant, vigorous and productive.
The Triumph muscadine has large, thin skinned, greenish-bronze fruit with high sugar content. The plants are winter hardy and productive. The fruit ripens early to mid-season and are good for eating and making wine.
The Brown Turkey fig, which bears twice a year, has a copper-brown skin with the flesh turning from various shades of amber to pink. The Celeste fig produces fruit that is small to medium in size with a light brown to violet skin and a whitish-pink color flesh. It contains very few seeds and ripens in early summer.
If you would like to help support the Rowan County 4-H program, please call the Extension Office at 704-216-8970 to place your order today. Orders must be received by Feb. 23.
Sara Drake, Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development, N.C. Cooperative Extension, Rowan County Center; 704-216-8970; http://rowanextension.com