Montana State University Extension is offering fruit tree field days in Helena, Whitehall and Bozeman during August. Researchers will examine tree fruit cultivars and provide expert advice on planting and maintaining fruit trees that are best suited for specific environments.
MSU Extension researchers Brent Sarchet and Toby Day are evaluating apple, pear and plum cultivars at 10 research orchards statewide and collecting data from additional orchards. Recognizing the complex micro- and macroclimates and variable soils that exist across Montana, Sarchet and Day are developing cultivar recommendations for homeowners and orchardists.
“Even though we are only three years into this research, we’ve got a pretty good idea what works and what doesn’t perform well in each location,” explained Sarchet.
The research, funded mostly through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant program and a Montana Growth Through Agriculture grant, created research orchards throughout the state, mostly on private land.
“The landowners help with watering and maintenance of the orchard, as well as collecting important data for the research,” said Day.
Although many of the orchards were planted recently, Day said they have a good understanding of which trees do well and which struggle.
“We found that proper planting and maintenance of the trees in the first couple of years is crucial for proper tree establishment. By studying variables from one location to another, we can better educate the public on pertinent details of how to successfully plant and maintain fruit trees.”
The fruit tree field days are from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at each location and are free and open to the general public.
Aug. 13: Johnson Orchard, 5935 McHugh Lane, Helena.
Aug. 20: Redman Orchard, 947 Point of Rocks Road, Whitehall.
Aug. 27: Horticulture Research Farm, 2730 W. Garfield, Bozeman.
“We are excited to talk about our experiences with those who want to learn more about fruit trees in Montana,” said Sarchet.
Contact: Brent Sarchet, (406) 447-8350, email@example.com; or Toby Day,
(406) 994-6523, firstname.lastname@example.org