How do plant and grow fruit trees in North Carolina?

 Growing trees in North Carolina can be a very profitable venture. However, it is also going to be very challenging. Some of the greatest problems that growers have would be labor, trying to harvest large apple trees and peach trees, it's all done by hand. That's why we would look at apples on dwarfing rootstocks where most of the work can be done from the ground. Another challenge that growers have would be frost and freeze falling their crop during bloom. Here in mid-March when the tree starts to bloom, we get very, very nervous about the nighttime temperature. 

This is a plum tree, which is one of the reasons that we do not recommend plums in North Carolina. If you look at this tree, it received temperatures of approximately 19 degrees six-night ago. Even though there are still flowers in this tree all of these flowers had been killed and it will bear no fruits this year. One of the ways that growers can address this is by using varieties that bloom later. On the news, you may see reports where they have big wind machines that turn during the night.
 It's not the moving air that causes that, but these wind machines pull down warmer air from above and circulate it through the orchard. Another option that is used with strawberries and smaller crops is using overhead irrigation where they run irrigation through the night, allowing the water to freeze on the tree. when the water hits the tree the water goes from a liquid to a solid-state that provides the insulation, or extra heat, that keeps the blossoms from freezing. Another challenge would be insect and disease Management. Although we have very good programs developed at North Carolina state university for managing these insects and diseases there are always going to be challenged with new and emerging diseases and insects that are growers are going to have a hard time controlling. Tree fruit grown in North Carolina are grown on family-owned forms there are no such things as corporate fruits forming in North Carolina. The grower has to deal with crops losses from time to time, and in so doing that may affect the availability of locally grown fruit. If you buy your fruit from a roadside retail market or the farmer's market, you want to make sure that you appreciate that farmer and try to support them as much as possible.    

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