One of the first things a homesteader will likely want to do is plant fruit trees on his property. Alabama homesteaders will want to carefully consider the temperature in their part of the state. Northern Alabama can see freezing temperatures during the winter, while southern Alabama has an almost tropical feel. Fortunately, there are many varieties of various fruit trees suitable for each region so growing the type of fruit you enjoy can easily be accomplished.
Peaches are the official state fruit of Alabama. Thirty to forty varieties of peaches are grown in the state according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service. Most of the peach production is centered in Chilton County. This county is an hour south of Birmingham and 30 minutes north of Montgomery. The harvest begins in May and continues through August each year. Some popular varieties of peaches grown in Alabama include Scarlet Pearl, Southern Pearl, Flavorcrest, Harvester or Topaz. Scarlet Pearl and Southern Pearl both have white flesh and are good choices for fresh eating. Flavorcrest, Harvester and Topaz are good choices for home canning or desserts.
Nectarines are grown in all areas of the state of Alabama. Crimson Gold and Fantasia varieties produce well in the northern region of the state. These nectarines will become available in early to mid-June. Red Gold grows well in northern and central Alabama. This variety will usually become available in late June to mid-July. Crimson Gold and Carolina Red nectarines fare well in southern Alabama. These varieties are normally ready for harvest in early June. Elberta nectarines are grown in all areas of the state. Elberta nectarines are usually ripe in early July in southern Alabama, mid-July in central Alabama and late July in northern Alabama.
Most of the pears grown in Alabama are of the Asian variety. These pears prove hardy against a common disease of the pear tree known as fire blight. Many of these varieties are self-pollinating; however the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service recommends planting at least two trees of different varieties for optimum crop yields. Pears begin to ripen in early July in southern Alabama, while northern counties can continue to harvest fruit through September. Asian pears can normally be stored under refrigeration for a period of one to three months after harvest. Asian pear varieties commonly grown in Alabama include Early Asian, Doitsu, Chojuro, Megeitsu, Kikusui and Korean Giant.
Apples are grown in most of the state, with the extreme southeastern county of Houston being the exception. Red Delicious and Golden Delicious varieties are the most widely-grown. Cumberland Spur, a type of Red Delicious apple was discovered in Jackson County, Alabama and shows great promise not only in Alabama but throughout the southeast. Jonathan, Rome, Granny Smith, Arkansas Black, Ozark Gold and Ginger Gold are other popular varieties. Gala apples are usually the earliest-producing variety in Alabama. Most of the apple production is in the northern portion of the state. There are a number of u-pick orchards available in the region. Most open for the season in July and close during December. A few of the orchards are open year-round.
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