By Anne Eickstadt

ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
Grant McCarty, Local Foods and Small Farms Educator, present information on the fruit trees that many people have growing in their backyards at the University of Illinois Extension in Belvidere.


Judy Hodge of the University of Illinois Extension in Belvidere requested Local Foods and Small Farms Educator Grant McCarty to present information on fruit trees many people have growing in their backyards.

McCarty has the background of growing up in a family in Tennessee that owns an orchard. He has a deep understanding of fruit trees, pruning, diseases, and the pests the trees suffer from. He was able to provide a great deal of information in the time he had available. He handed out lists of apple cultivars and the disease susceptibility of each one and an apple pollination chart showing which types of apple trees pollinate at the same time.

He discussed when and how to prune fruit trees, how to plant them properly, and how to care for the trees. He gave tips and tricks that he has learned, discovered, and developed over the years. Here is a bit of the information he provided to the full room of fruit tree fanciers.

Tree Fruit Basics

Many gardeners are interested in fruit trees, but are often unaware of which species will do well in Illinois and also the amount of work involved in growing tree fruit. Most of the varieties of tree fruits are grafted on dwarfing, semi-dwarf, or seedling rootstocks. Trees grafted on dwarfing rootstocks require less space compared to trees grafted on seedling rootstocks. Due to the limited space in the backyards, homeowners prefer growing trees on dwarfing or semi-dwarfing rootstocks as they require less space compared to trees grafted on seedling rootstocks.

Extreme winter conditions are the biggest limiting factor when considering tree fruits for the backyard. Crops such as peaches, nectarines, and sweet cherries will suffer when grown in northern Illinois but can perform well in the central and southern parts of the state. Apricots have difficulty because they bloom so early in the spring, making them very susceptible to spring frosts particularly in the northern parts of the state. The best choices for the northern Illinois home orchard are therefore best made from a list that includes apples, pears, sour cherries, and plums.

All tree fruit crops prefer full sunlight. Although they may in fact…

For complete article, pick up the April 18 Belvidere Republican.

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