Ichang lemons can be grown in central Alabama without cold protection. This Ichang lemon tree is growing at Hayes Jackson's home near Anniston.
Ichang lemons can be grown in central Alabama without cold protection. This Ichang lemon tree is growing at Hayes Jackson’s home near Anniston.

By Gary Gray

Fall is in the air, accompanied by the anticipation of cooler temperatures, and the glorious displays of autumn foliage as all the various hues of summer’s chlorophyll greens give way to the underlying spectrum of yellows, oranges, reds and purples. And we give thanks for God’s abundant provision, and the abounding harvests of autumn.

In Chilton County, the sweet peaches of summer are passing, but the fall fruit harvest is remarkably bountiful.

Personally, as a fruit lover, I am intrigued by the wide array of types of fruit which we can grow in Central Alabama.

Many of these fruits are harvested through the fall including apples, pears, Asian pears, muscadine grapes, kiwifruit, oriental persimmons, pomegranate, feijoa (pineapple guava), Satsuma mandarin oranges, lemons, kumquats and other citrus.

And, within each fruit type or species are often hundreds of different “cultivars” or cultivated varieties, each possessing its own flavor, appearance, disease and insect resistance qualities.

For example, more than 300 peach and nectarine varieties are grown and evaluated at the Chilton Research and Extension Center (CREC) in Clanton.

This fall, two excellent fruit production workshops that should be of interest to both home fruit hobbyists and commercial growers will be held in Chilton County.

The Chilton Research and Extension Center will host its annual Fall Fruit Harvest Workshop on Oct. 17 and for the first time in its 10-year history, the Southeastern Citrus Expo will come to Alabama on Nov. 15 and 16.

The Fall Fruit Harvest Workshop will be held at the CREC in Clanton on Thursday, Oct. 17, from 1–4 p.m.

Educational presentations will include grapes, muscadines, kiwifruit, chestnuts, Satsumas, pomegranates, fall fruiting primocane blackberries, oriental persimmons, apples, and pears. Research plots will be visited, and fruit production with high tunnels will also be featured.

“A wide variety of fruits will be available for tasting including: AU Golden Dragon and AU Golden Sunshine gold kiwifruit, Satsumas, persimmons, blackberries, muscadines, apples, peaches, tomatoes, pomegranates, pears, arguta kiwi, grapes and peaches,” CREC Superintendent Jim Pitts. “We should also be harvesting chestnuts, Virginia peanuts and maybe some sweet sorghum at that time as well.”

Anyone interested in growing fruits for fall harvest will enjoy this program.

The meeting is free and open to anyone who is interested in growing or marketing fruit crops for commercial or home use.

For more information, contact Gary Gray at (334) 539-2128 or Elina Coneva at (334) 844-7230.

The Southeastern Citrus Expo is coming to Alabama for its 10th anniversary annual meeting.

This meeting attracts commercial growers and backyard citrus hobbyists alike, from across the Southeastern U.S., who come to learn and teach, as well as buy, sell and share their favorite citrus fruit and plants.

Did you know that right here in Central Alabama we can grow delicious semi-hardy citrus like Satsuma mandarin and Meyer lemon with some freeze protection when temperatures drop into the mid-20s and below?

We can also grow several varieties of hardy citrus like Ichang Lemon, Morton Citrange, and Thomasville Citrangequats without cold protection.

If that interests you, then you’d really enjoy the SE Citrus Expo.

The 2013 Southeastern Citrus Expo will take place on Friday, Nov. 15 and Saturday, Nov. 16 in Chilton County.

On Friday, pre-conference tours will be provided at several Central Alabama farms from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. followed by the evening Meet and Greet and Citruholics Banquet at Peach Park in Clanton. Farms hosting pre-conference tours will include John Neighbors’ Fruit Farm near Alexander City, Petals from the Past in Jemison, Chilton Research and Extension Center in Clanton and others. Saturday’s program will consist of educational presentations, trade show and fruit contests at the Jefferson State Community College auditorium in Clanton from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with registration starting at 8 a.m.

Speakers and presentations will include: John Neighbors, Growing and Marketing Satsuma Mandarins in Central Alabama; Hayes Jackson, Unusual and Cold-Hardy Citrus for the Backyard Hobbyist; and Dallas Hartzog, Developing a Citrus Industry in the Wiregrass Region of Alabama.

Updates on the citrus quarantine, citrus greening and Asian citrus psyllid will be provided and a grower panel discussion/question and answer session will be held.

Petals from the Past Nursery will host the post-conference tour and fruit tasting at the nursery with an array of their citrus, golden kiwifruit and more for participants to enjoy.

For more information on the Southeastern Citrus Expo, contact Stan McKenzie at citrusman99@hotmail.com or Petals from the Past at info@petalsfromthepast.com or (205) 646-0069.

Also see the Expo’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/SoutheasternCitrusExpo for more details and pre-registration information.

Gary Gray is a Regional Extension Agent with the Chilton County Extension Office.