Home fruit and nut orchards are becoming more and more popular across southwest Louisiana. The benefits of having a fruit and nut orchard are endless; the fruit that the orchards produce are high in nutrition value, can reduce food cost, can beautify the home landscape and much, much more…. All you have to do is grow these plants and you can enjoy their many benefits! Harvest season is what we all look forward to. With the wide variety of fruit and nut plants available for planting, selecting a plant that produces something you like shouldn’t be too difficult. Some of the more popular plants to consider (along with their harvest season) are the following: Apple: June – Sept Pecan: Sept -- Nov Blackberry: May – late June Peach: May – Oct Blueberry: May – late June Persimmon: Sept -- Nov Citrus: Oct – March Pomegranate: Sept -- Oct Fig: June – October Strawberry: Mar – May While these that are listed above are some options to plant, not all may be suited for the amount of work that you intend to put into them. Most homeowners are not adequately equipped to spray for control of insects and diseases. This problem can be minimized by selecting fruit types with few pest problems or selecting varieties with resistance to known pests. Fruit species may be grouped as high, medium or low maintenance crops relative to pest control needs. If you are looking for fruit trees that require low maintenance, consider planting citrus, blueberries, figs, persimmons and loquats. Fruit trees that are grouped into the medium maintenance category are muscadines and blackberries. Some of your high maintenance fruit trees are apples, peaches, nectarines, plums, strawberries and mayhaws. As far as nut production, pecans rank in the low maintenance category. Reminder, just because a particular tree ranks in the low maintenance category doesn’t mean that there won’t be any maintenance that goes along with that particular tree; most fruit and nut trees will have a spray schedule that will need to be followed in order to prevent pest problems from occurring. Location is on the most important keys to success when planting fruit trees and pecan trees in your landscape. Before you plant, make sure you select a location that does not hold water because all of these trees can and will be affected if the roots get saturated with water for an extended period of time; you will constantly have problems until the tree eventually gives up and dies. Next is to make sure that the pH is correct in the location that you plan on planting the tree. As with most fruit trees, a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5 is optimum for tree growth. Pecans are the same way; if you maintain a pH from a 6.0 to 6.5, you will be right in the middle of the ideal soil pH. Knowing what the pH is in the location that you are thinking about planting a tree in is very crucial because if the pH is off, the growth of the tree will be affected. If your pH is too high, you can add wettable sulphur to bring down the pH; if the pH is too low, you can add lime to raise the pH. Important note: If you do not know the pH of your soil, it may be wise to get a soil test. Don’t guess, soil test! Even though we are several months out from planting any trees (this should be done in the winter), this will give you an idea on what to plant and will jump start your planning in deciding what type of tree to plant and where to plant it at. Knowing how much time you have to invest into a fruit tree or pecan tree as well as where you plan on planting the tree, will greatly impact the overall outcome on how the tree performs. On one hand, a poorly managed tree will more than likely not produce the yields that you are expecting and hoping for; however on the other hand, a healthy tree that has been properly managed will usually reward you by producing high yields. For more information on the above topic, contact the LSU AgCenter at 788-8821.