Sara Drake: It’s time to help 4-H by ordering fruit plants

Published 2:07 am Friday, October 17, 2014

By Sara Drake, NC Cooperative Extension

Every fall, Rowan County 4-H sells small fruit plants to support 4-H activities throughout the year. In addition to the typical blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, muscadine and fig plants, bunch grapes have been added to the lineup.

One variety of bunch grapes is offered. The Mars grape is a blue, seedless grape with good flavor. The plant is disease-resistant and produces a high yield, with the fruit ripening in mid-August. The cost per plant is $10 each, or $9 if five or more bunch grapes are ordered.

The top selling fruit plant is the blueberry plant. Varieties of blueberries available this fall include Brightwell, Climax and Premier. The Brightwell blueberry ripens mid-season over a long period. It has large fruit. The growth is vigorous and upright and the plants are very productive. 

The Climax blueberry ripens early over a short period and has medium-size berries. The growth is upright with an open, spreading crown. The Premier blueberry ripens early to mid-season. It has large fruit that is light blue in color. Plants are upright with good foliage and are highly productive.

It is recommended that two or more varieties be planted together to assure higher yields and better quality fruit from cross-pollination. Blueberry plants are a great addition to any landscape. They have white or pink flowers in the spring, blue fruit in the summer, and the foliage adds red and yellow colors in the fall.

The blueberries are Southern varieties, developed for our growing environment. Blueberry plants are well adapted to full sun, which is desirable. The plants can also survive with up to 50 percent shade. However, yield is reduced with increasing shade.

You should plant your blueberries approximately 3 to 6 feet apart. The closer you plant them, the higher density hedge you will have. Water your plants regularly and keep the roots moist. Only use fertilizer with small amounts of nitrogen, such as ones formulated for use on azaleas and rhododendrons.

All blueberries are two years old and are sold in one-gallon containers. Cost for the plants are $10 each or $9 if five or more blueberries are ordered.

In addition to bunch grapes and blueberries, Rowan County 4-H is also selling blackberries — Arapaho and Triple Crown; raspberries — Dorman Red; muscadines — Cowart and Triumph, and figs — Brown Turkey and Celeste. All plants are sold in one gallon containers and cost $10 each, or $9 each if five or more of one variety is ordered.

Whether you order bunch grapes, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, muscadines or figs, you will enjoy the sweet yields for many years to come. When you receive your orders, you will also receive literature with further information on caring for your plants. To order plants, please call the Rowan County Cooperative Extension office at 704-216-8970 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The deadline to place your order is Thursday, Oct. 30. Not only will these plants beautify your landscape, your purchase helps support the 4-H program and the youth who are striving to make the best better.

Sara Drake is the Extension agent in 4-H Youth Development. Call 704-216-8970.

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