Cabarrus County residents can grow numerous edible fruits in their landscape. Often the difference in success or failure is the choice of cultivars. Since I last wrote about fruit varieties in 1998 there have been several new cultivar introductions. Plus I have learned some things along the way.
For example, last year was the first time I have ever eaten a Pink Lady apple. I was very impressed with Pink Lady. I still like the Royal Gala and Jon-A-Gold. This was the first year I have ever gotten color on a Fuji. Fuji is a very good tasting apple but generally has no color when grown in Cabarrus County. There are lots of other apple choices out there. The major way to go wrong is to buy a low chill apple variety such as Adina. It will not grow properly in Cabarrus County. Stayman winesap is another cultivar to avoid in Cabarrus county. These are likely to crack in our climate although numerous other winesaps do just fine.
I have also learned some more about blueberries since 1998. This past year was the first time I tasted Ira, O'Neal, or Legacy. I still recommend rabbiteye blueberries for the average gardeners. In fact, most people will wind up with the same Tifblue and Premier cultivars I recommended last time. You need two blueberry cultivars for cross pollination. Columbus is a newer variety that you might try if you can find it. With proper management on our better soils you should be able to get production from O'Neal or Legacy which are southern hybrid blueberries. Their main advantage is the earlier harvest season. There are several disadvantages. In addition to being harder to grow, their yields are lower. I figure most gardeners will be better off choosing a rabbiteye type.
There have been several new blackberry cultivars. Quachita has recently been released and is definitely worth a try. Navajo is one I know will work. I have also tasted Triple Crown blackberry. It is a very good berry but has to be trellised. This would make it a little more work. Since 1998, I have had poor results with Arapaho some years and no longer recommend it. The highly touted Prime Jim and Prime Jan probably won't work in our climate. The main characteristic you need is double blossom resistance. This fungal disease devastates many blackberry cultivars.
Breeding work is taking place in raspberries. Most cultivars would be happier a little farther north, but some will tolerate our warm climate. Autumn Bliss is still recommended. I would love to see somebody try Caroline. It was named after a girl ,and not after our state, but this raspberry was selected closer to the Carolinas than most cultivars.
Figs can be grown in Cabarrus County. I continue to have good success with Celeste. Brown Turkey is another option. Both of these cultivars are winter hardy while many fig cultivars will die back during late winter.
Numerous peach cultivars have been introduced recently but homeowners will not have an easy time finding the best ones. I like Challenger, Contender, Biscoe, and Intrepid for yellow flesh peaches. Carolina Belle is a good choice for white peaches and Galactica is the best peeno (doughnut shaped) peach I know about. We have another yellow fleshed peach called Carolina Gold in a demonstration. I've heard good reports about that one so I am looking forward to seeing how it works out. Speaking of peach cultivars, I still occasionally hear somebody mention the Elberta. This past summer I overheard a customer at a farm stand ask for Elbertas. The farmer let her taste some of the newer cultivars, then took her around to an old Elberta tree and let her taste an Elberta. He then told her he would give her 3 bushels of Elbertas at no cost. She hated to admit the Elbertas weren't that good after asking for them, but when she left she had paid $1 a lb for the other cultivar instead.
The recommended muscadine grapes cultivars are Carlos, Noble, Sterling, and Nesbitt. Fry is a good selection but requires a pollinator. If you try something else, make sure you get winter hardiness.
Bunch grapes of choice are Niagria or Catawba. We are toward the southern end of where most bunch grapes are happy. Varieties like Concord don't pollinate very well in Cabarrus counties climate and often leave many hard green grapes in the bunch. Having seen bunch grapes in the wilds of Texas, I feel certain there should be some improvement in heat tolerant bunch grapes someday.
I still have a lot to learn about Oriental persimmons. I have grown an unknown variety for several years but lost it to the winter temperatures last year. On the other hand I have seen several trees that didn't have a problem last year. One gardener I know mentions Eureka as his favorite. Another person claims they grow Tanenashi but the fruit looks more like the description of Fuyu. In Japanese, Tanenashi means seedless while Fuyu means winter.
Sweet cherries will only grow on the better soils in Cabarrus County. On average soils they tend to die from poor drainage. Even on the best soils, it helps to have cherry trees on a raised area to improve drainage. I steer people toward Stella. This is a compromise Bing or Black Tariatan taste better, but Stella will produce without cross pollination and in our climate, you never know when your pollinator is going to die.
Montmorency is the best sour cherry.
Recommended pecans cultivars have remained the same for 20 years. Plant Stuart and Cape Fear. You need cross pollination. Avoid the papershell pecans due to the scab fungus. Winter hardiness is also important.
The strawberry cultivar I like best is Earliglow.
I hesitate to tell you my pear choice. In 1998 I mentioned Harrow Delight and it promptly died from fireblight the following year. My best guess for fireblight resistant pear cultivars would be Moonglow and Starkling Delicious. In a way that is hypocritical because my Starkling Delicious has already died from fire blight.
I can't cover every fruit in one news column. Don't hesitate to contact me for information on any of these or on anything I haven't mentioned. Until next time, plan and plant for a better world.
Article was written by David Goforth Agriculture Extension agent North Carolina Cooperative Extension Cabarrus County Center. Visit my homepage http://cabarrus.ces.ncsu.edu/ or http://cabarrus.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=lawngarden or my blog http://gardeninggurugoforth.blogspot.com/
Contact me at David_Goforth@ncsu.edu. Reviewed 2007.