Fruit growers school valuable for beginners, experts

February 5, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue School for Back Yard Fruit Growers will take growers through "Adventures in Backyard Fruit Production" in a series that offers opportunities to learn about modern fruit production practices.

The school will take place from 9:30-11:30 a.m. EST on March 4, 11, 18 and 25 and April 1, with a sixth session to be announced. The program will be held at 25 sites around the state using Webinar broadcasts. Participants also have the option to access the sessions from home via a high-speed Internet connection.

Each day will feature a two-hour session that covers a topic important to fruit growers. The agenda includes:

* March 4 - Session 1: Assessing personal goals and learning how and where to begin fruit production.

* March 11 - Session 2: Growing tree fruit such as apples, pears and peaches.

* March 18 - Session 3: Growing small fruit such as grapes, strawberries, red and black raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.

* March 25 - Session 4: Harvest, storage, preservation and use of fruit.

* April 1 - Session 5: Overview of crop protection using pest management and discussion of organic fruit production.

Session 6, on a date to be announced, will be a hands-on workshop in pruning and training fruit led by local Extension educators.

Purdue presenters include associate professor Peter Hirst and professor Bruce Bordelon, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture; Linda Souchon, educator, Purdue Extension Johnson County; Rick Foster, professor and Extension coordinator for pest management, Department of Entomology; and Janna Beckerman, assistant professor, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology.

Participants also will hear advice from successful fruit growers. Richard Hayden, professor emeritus, will introduce the series with a historical perspective on fruit culture and provide background on the basics of successful fruit culture.

Roy Ballard, educator, Purdue Extension Hancock County, said the series will be especially beneficial for beginning growers.

"We want to make sure they have the right plants for their site and for their needs and that they plant them in a way the plants will thrive," Ballard said. "It's important that growers appreciate not only the many joys of home fruit production, but also the occasional challenges, limitations and responsibilities."

Ballard said the school also will provide information for more experienced growers, such as varieties of fruit available for Indiana culture and pest control considerations. Private applicator and commercial pesticide applicator credits will be available.

The school is sponsored by Purdue Extension and North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.

Registration is $50 per person for all sessions or $15 per person for an individual session. The fee includes all handouts and resource materials. A $10 per person late fee will be added after Feb. 26.

For more information regarding program content, available viewing sites or how to register, contact your county Purdue Extension office or Ballard at 317-462-1113, A full brochure is available at 

Writer: Elise Brown, 765-496-7481,

Source: Roy Ballard, 317-462-1113,