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Master Gardener News - Somerset County Fruit Trial 2013

As we enter year four 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 twice 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 and the Nanking Cherries produced fruit of good quantity and quality this season. It appears that they might perform very well for edible landscaping or permaculture designs. We are looking forward to this coming season.

#1 Native Plum

(Prunus americana)

Both Native Plums are doing very well; after a spring pruning they have gained in height. One is very healthy with only slight Japanese beetle damage.

#2 Native Plum

(Prunus americana)

Native Plum#2 is also doing great, gaining in height and vigor this season. Both plum trees flowered this season, but the fruit showed significant insect damage.

#3 Elderberry Nova

(Sambucus canadensis)

Once again both of the Elderberries are doing great and both produced fruit this year. While the birds promptly took care of some of the fruit, there was enough to offer enough to the public to make a couple pies. Nova 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. York shows no signs of adverse effects from any insect or disease issues.


Elderberry fruit cluster

#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. 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. This plant, however small in stature, is showing off good foliage color and seems to have established itself for the winter.


#9 Native Plum

(Prunus americana)

All our Native Plums are doing well although the fruit showed significant insect damage.

#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 and produced their first fruit this season. The cherries were excellent, a bit tart, and great for cooking.

#11 Nanking Cherry

(Prunus tomentosa)


Ripe Nanking Cherries

#12 Nanking Cherry

(Prunus tomentosa)

#13 Native Plum

(Prunus Americana)

Our last Native Plum is doing well and has put on growth with very little insect or disease damage except on the fruit.

Project developed with the support of RREA, Rural Resources Extension Act.

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