Fruits of their labor

F ruit culture is a combination of art and science.

Growers realize the uncertainties they face in producing a quality fruit crop each year. They are very familiar not only with the uncertainty of weather conditions but also the challenges of weeds, insects and crop disease and the impact these can have on the quality and quantity of their crop. It seems everything wants to take a bite out of the fruit crop.

New production practices and pest identification, prevention and control tools and techniques continue to emerge, and growers might be seeking ways to learn more about these. Knowledge (accompanied with a lot of care and hard work) can often be the best tool in producing a quality and profitable fruit crop.

Not only the risk associated with commercial fruit culture but the information and tools differ greatly from those available and suitable for the backyard grower.

The following provides opportunities for each to learn about modern fruit culture in a manner that suits their specific needs.

One source of timely, research-based information for commercial fruit growers will be the upcoming meeting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15, at the Purdue Extension office in Morgan County.

Sponsored by the Hancock and Morgan County offices of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service, the meeting will provide an opportunity for growers to meet and ask questions about the production of quality fruit. There is no cost to attend.

Presenters will include extension specialists representing the departments of botany/plant pathology and horticulture at Purdue University, who will focus on aspects of modern fruit culture and crop protection.

John Phillips of Crop Production Services will provide insight on weed control possibilities in the orchard.

Additionally this year, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from Richard Weinzierl, professor and extension entomologist, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois, who will share updates and key recommendations for insect and mite management in apples.

This program has been approved for pesticide applicator re-certification (PARP) credit for those who wish to keep their certification current.

I will cover the current PARP re-certification topic on pollinator protection. Those wishing to be re-certified should bring their PARP card to the meeting.

A box lunch will be provided by Crop Production Services for those who preregister.

The Purdue Extension Office in Morgan County is located at 180 S. Main Street, Suite 229, in Martinsville.

To preregister, or for additional information about this educational program, or if you need a reasonable accommodation to participate, please contact me by calling 317-462-1113; or by emailing

Backyard fruit growers with a few fruit trees or berries who need information regarding the selection, planting, and subsequent care of tree fruit or small fruit in the home landscape are encouraged to contact the Purdue Extension office but might also find the following of value.

To help fruit growers of all kinds learn about the fundamental practice of pruning, Purdue Extension will offer a fruit pruning workshop, March 9 at the Meigs Horticulture Research Farm from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Specialists from the departments of horticulture and landscape architecture, botany and plant pathology, and entomology will be on hand to answer fruit growing questions.

Pruning tools, timing and techniques of apples, peaches, berries and grapes will be both discussed and demonstrated.

Of particular interest to grape-growers will be a discussion of pruning vines retrained after the severe 2014 winter. Other topics of discussion will be weed management, early season insect and disease management, and assessing winter injury.

There will be a $10 registration fee for this program, payable by check or cash on site. Door prizes will be available. Dress appropriately and bring your own pruners so you can learn to prune on your own.

Meigs Horticulture Research Farm is located at 9101 S. 100 E. in Lafayette.

Please contact Karen Mitchell at or by calling 765-474-0739 to register for this event.

If you need reasonable accommodations to participate in this program, contact Mitchell prior to the meeting.

In case of inclement weather, this workshop might be postponed to March 22.

Please watch this column for announcements of future fruit-related workshops that might be a bit closer to home.