Carrington Research Extension Center


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Greetings from the Fruit Project


Happy New Year!  2018 begins the 13th year of the Northern Hardy Fruit Evaluation Project and my 13th year as fruit project manager at the Carrington Research Extension Center.  My knees are a little older, but my enthusiasm for working with hardy plants and meeting people who love fruits continues.

Pruning haskaps.

We opened the project to tours in 2007 (25 people!), and since then we have had over 10,000 contacts with fellow fruit-lovers in North Dakota and nearly a dozen other states. I’ve also had email conversations with people in Canada, Poland, Peru and Kazakhstan! 

Tasting cherries. Field Day 2014.

Our summer students are an invaluable part of the CREC’s summer research program.  I’ve had a super fruit-picking crew in recent summers and I miss the gals that have left for college. We’ve hand-picked over 9,500 pounds of fruit since 2009, not including apples, plums and grapes.

The CREC fruit goes out to Pride of Dakota companies that use fruit in their products, like kuchens, BBQ sauce, jellies/jams/syrups, and our biggest users: winemakers. Companies that want to try new products can request fruit for test batches. Companies that need fruit for established products can purchase it from the fruit project. In 2016 and 2017, we had leftover aronia, juneberry and black currants. We have become a victim of our own success for two reasons: new fruit orchards have started supplying fruit (Excellent!) and businesses that may have bought fruit from us in the past now use too much fruit to buy our relatively small amounts (Excellent, again)!

I keep busy in the off seasons, too, with pH, acidity and Brix readings on frozen fruit samples and writing up reports for the project and collaborators. In early, cold, 2017, the fruit project was featured on Minnesota Public TV’s Prairie Yard and Garden:  It was so hot the day of taping that we all almost melted! Last winter I co-authored the “Starting a Community Orchard” publication with Extension horticulture specialist, Tom Kalb. I was also one of four coauthors for “The Windbreak Cookbook” publication. It is the 2017 second-place winner of the Notable State Government Document Award which means that it is now entered into the national competition at the annual American Library Association meeting. If you’d like a copy, ask for one when you stop by the CREC.

Thanks for being a part of the CREC Fruit Project.  Now get busy thinking about all those interesting fruits you want to plant!  The Fedco catalog is wonderful winter reading.

Apple Blossom and Blue Orchard Mason Bee


Kathy Wiederholt
Fruit Project Manager

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