Extension office programs help get to core of growing fruit

It is never easy to predict what type of growing season there will be in central Indiana. Following a somewhat moderate summer in 2014, we have experienced a seemingly long (and until recently a relatively mild) winter.

It is hard to know how the recent prolonged unseasonably cold temperatures will impact the 2015 crop, and one can only guess what the spring and summer will bring in the way of stresses on both trees and the next fruit crop.

Those who grow fruit for a living realize the uncertainties they face in producing a quality fruit crop each year, and it looks like this upcoming season will be another learning experience.

While there might be little that growers can do to control the weather, there are a variety of available tools and techniques to help produce healthier trees and vines and to protect them from the damage caused by insects and disease. Nobody likes a wormy apple.

It is important for commercial tree fruit and small fruit growers to have access to the latest production information.

On four consecutive Wednesdays in April, the Purdue Extension office of Hancock County will offer four Lunch and Learn programs to meet the needs of beginning home fruit and vegetable growers.

Topics on April 1 and 8 will include general fruit culture considerations, small fruit production, tree fruit production and fruit pest control options. On April 15 and 22, participants will have the opportunity to learn about basic vegetable production tools and techniques, pest control and tricks to grow the very best tomatoes possible.

Sessions will take place from noon to 1 p.m., and participants are encouraged to come early, bring their lunch and gather at 11:30 am.

All sessions will be held in the Purdue Extension office just north of the fairgrounds at 802 N. Apple St. in Greenfield.

Sessions will be held only if there is ample interest expressed through preregistration, which is free.

For additional information or to preregister, call 317-462-1113 or by email at rballard@purdue.edu

Doughnut series continues

The Purdue Farmer Doughnut series continues with two additional webinars to be held on today and March 25. Participants will have an opportunity to explore current farm related topics with Purdue Specialists in a live webinar format at a local hosted site.

These free webinars — part of six-part series held on alternate Wednesday mornings — begin with an informal gathering at 7:30 with the webinar starting promptly at 8 a.m. and ending at 9 a.m.

The remaining sessions include:

•Today: Agronomic Checklist for a Successful Corn Crop — Robert Nielsen, professor of agronomy, extension corn specialist

•March 25: Maintaining Grain Quality in Storage — Linda J. Mason, professor of food industry pest management, department of entomology

For additional information or to preregister (free), please contact Roy Ballard, Purdue Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Hancock County by calling 317-462-1113 or by email at rballard@purdue.edu.

Roy Ballard is an agriculture and natural resources educator with the Hancock County office of Purdue Extension (extension.purdue.edu/hancock). Contact him at 317-462-1113 or rballard@purdue.edu.