Travelers who pass through Alabama during the warm summer months will likely run across a roadside farmer's market loaded with fresh produce from some of the state's finest orchards. These markets will provide tourists with freshly picked fruit that is sweet and delicious.
In addition to the roadside markets, autumn will bring opportunities for picking fresh apples and pears from a family orchard. Homeowners can also reap the benefits of growing a variety of fruit for their own harvest and canning needs.
Scarlet Pearl Peach
The peach is the state fruit of Alabama. Scarlet Pearl peaches are grown mainly in the central region of the state. These peaches ripen early in June each year. The fruits are a medium-sized, semi-freestone variety with white flesh. They are best grown in commercial orchards that produce peaches for sale in farmer's markets. They are an excellent choice for fresh eating.
A close cousin of the peach is the nectarine. Elberta nectarine trees are grown in all parts of Alabama. As a rule, the harvest of these nectarines begins in early July in the southern part of the state and ends in late July in the northern part of the state. These nectarines are commonly grown for sale in roadside stands or in individual home orchards. These trees need heavy pruning each year in order to produce a crop the following season.
Cumberland Spur Apple
The Cumberland Spur apple tree is native to northern Alabama. It is a spur of the Red Delicious apple. The fruits are large and bright red with faint white speckles on them. These spur-type trees will be somewhat smaller than conventional trees, growing around 30 to 40 feet high at maturity. A single tree can be expected to bear fruit within three to four years after planting and yield three to 15 bushels of fruit per year.
The Rubrum plum was developed at Auburn University to be an early producer in the state of Alabama. Tests show the tree to be resistant to bacterial canker, leaf spot, fruit spot and black knot. The fruit is a dark red color both on the outer skin and inner flesh. The fruits are good choices for home canning, fresh eating or sale in farmer's markets throughout Alabama. Plum trees normally reach a mature height of around 15 feet and require a second tree to be planted for pollination.
Asian pears fare well in Alabama because they tend to be more resistant to fire blight than Europeans varieties. Asian pears may be of Japanese or Chinese origin. The varieties that are of Japanese origin tend to fare better in Alabama than do those of Chinese origin. Some Asian Pear varieties that grow well in Alabama include Early Asian, Housi, Doitsu, Ya Li, Megeitsu and Korean Giant. Asian pears will usually begin bearing fruit three or four years after planting. A mature tree can spread 10 to 15 feet and grow around 15 feet high. Fruits will ripen from July through September. Pears grown in Alabama store well and can be kept from one to three months under refrigeration. These fruits are excellent choices for fresh eating or home canning.