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Master Gardener News - Somerset County Fruit Trial 2012

Let me first Thank Master Gardener Mel Croft for his time and effort in taking the pictures and compiling the information on the trees. I would also like to apologize for the lateness of the information being posted.

As we enter year 3 of our fruit tree trial we are beginning to see some of the answers to the questions of growing different types of fruits in our area. We are seeing successes on most fronts with only slight disappointment in a couple of plantings. Let’s start with the disappointments in our trial. After having very poor results with the two plantings of Goji Berries we have decided to forgo any further plantings of this fruit. The plants that we received were very small and did not survive the winter in our area. Perhaps if we had started with a larger stock, the success rate might have been better. The Paw Paw that we have planted is still growing, but is very slow to attain any size. It could be that our growing season is just too short in this area for them to develop properly. They get a very late start in the spring and seem to only regain the growth of the previous season. The Elderberries, Cherries, and Native Plums are all doing great! As you can see by the following pictures, their progress is very encouraging for the upcoming fall and winter. The Elderberries are both producing fruit in good quantity and quality this season.

#1 Native Plum

(Prunus Americana)

Both Native Plums are doing very well; after a spring pruning they have gained in height. One is now 77” tall and is very healthy with only slight Japanese Beetle damage. Earlier in the season both plum trees had a small infestation of leaf rollers that we were able to take care of through hand picking of affected foliage.

#2 Native Plum

(Prunus Americana)

Native Plum#2 is also doing great, gaining in height and vigor this season. It has now reached 86” in height with only minor insect damage. Both plum trees had slight flowering this season, but have not set any fruit.

#3 Elderberry Nova

(Sambucus Canadensis)

Once again both of the Elderberries are doing great and both produced fruit this year, which the birds promptly took care of. Nova has grown to a height of 82” and shows very little insect or disease damage.

#4 Elderberry York

(Sambucus Canadensis)

Elderberry York is producing fruit again this year; along with its counterpart, Nova it seems to be producing a larger crop and, yes, the birds also took care of the fruit before we could. York has now reach a height of 86” and also shows no signs of adverse effects from any insect or disease issues.

#5 Paw Paw

(Asimina Spp.)

The Paw Paw seems to be struggling to get established. This year neither plant had a good start. Paw Paw #5 is doing better then its counterpart, attaining a height of 25” since April. It does look very healthy with excellent leaf color and development.

#6 Paw Paw

(Aimina Spp.)

Like its larger counterpart, #6 struggled getting started this spring and remains very small, attaining a height of only 8”. This plant, however small in stature, is showing off good foliage color and seems to have established itself for the winter.

Spaces #7 & #8

No Pictures

The places where the Goji Berries were located will be replaced with other trial plants. After two tries, we have decided that the Goji Berries just are not hardy enough in this location. We will try again in the spring of 2013 with June Berries.

#9 Native Plum

(Prunus Americana)

All our Native Plums are doing well. Number 9 has grown to 96” in height and has few problems. The Japanese Beetles did like this plant better then the others, however, it is doing very well after weathering the storm of beetles. It also has no fruit and flowered very little.

#10 Nanking Cherry

(Punus Tomentosa)

The Nanking Cherries all seem to have one thing in common in our trial: they all have yellowing leaves to some extent late in the season. All are growing in height. Number 10 is now 58” tall. We will have a soil test done to try and rule out a nutrient problem.

#11 Nanking Cherry

(Prunus Tomentosa)

Note the leaves here are also yellowing and it has reached a height of 67″.

#12 Nanking Cherry

(Prunus Tomentosa)

Is now 55” tall and is also showing leaf discoloration like the others.

#13 Native Plum

(Prunus Americana)

Our last Native Plum is doing well and has started to gain on the other two, which are on the other side of the building. After struggling in its location the first years, it has now taken hold and is acclimated to this spot, which is not as protected as the others. The shrub is now 60” tall and doing well, with very little insect or disease damage.

Comparison between May measurement & September 2012

Plant #



1 55″ now 77’’ Native Plum. Healthy; very minor bug damage.
2 58″ now 86” Native Plum. Healthy; very minor bug damage.
3 43” now 82” Elderberry. Healthy; no bug damage
4 55″ now 80” Elderberry. Healthy; no bug damage
5 9” now 25” Paw Paw. Doing great after very slow start
6 4” now 8” Paw Paw. Doing well after very slow start
7 NA Goji Berry. No picture. Dead
8 NA Goji Berry. No picture. Dead
9 68″ now 96” Native Plum. Healthy; very minor bug damage
10 32″ now 58” Nanking Cherry. Healthy, but some leaves are light green. Soil test needed.
11 33″ now 67” Nanking Cherry. Healthy, but some leaves are light green. Soil test needed.
12 35″ now 55” Nanking Cherry. Healthy, but some leaves are light green. Soil test needed.
13 37″ now 60” Native Plum. Healthy; very minor bug damage



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