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U of I Extension: Consider fruit trees this year

Staff Report

ROCKFORD – While people may be thinking of growing vegetables this season, they might want to consider fruit trees as an addition to the backyard.

“Fruit trees can be great for the backyard in Northern Illinois,” University of Illinois Extension Local Foods and Small Farms Extension Educator Grant McCarty said. “We see a lot of homeowners reach out to us asking about what types to grow, how to grow them, and challenges they are facing in their current trees.”

Apples and pears do well in the backyard while peaches and other stone fruit can be a bit trickier due to our winters. For apples and pears, you need more than one variety.

“This is a common problem with a backyard orchard. You always need more than one variety of the apples and pears to allow for proper cross-pollination to occur,” McCarty added

Yields can also be impacted by weather, he said. McCarty says to expect stone fruit like peaches, plums, and others to yield  every couple of years. They are strongly influenced by our winters.

In deciding on fruit trees consider use, size, and disease resistance. Dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard are the common size trees. For a dwarf tree, the expected height will be 8-10 feet in height while semi-dwarf is 10-12 feet in height. A standard tree will reach 25 feet or taller when mature.

Backyard orchard production was recently covered in a University of Illinois Extension webinar series.

“We just finished a Get Growing webinar series that include growing fruit trees in the backyard,” McCarty said.

The free webinars are being archived on the U of I Extension’s YouTube channel.

For more information on upcoming webinars and resources, please visit the extensions website.

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