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Georgia’s peach crop is having a resurgence this year thanks to the lack of late freezes and sufficient chilling hours during the winter.

Home gardeners who want to expand their edible backyard bounty to include fruits are invited to participate in the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Backyard Fruits webinar series that runs through June 5.

The series was born out of an idea for a short course on fruit production that was sidelined by the COVID-19 crisis, said Ashley Hoppers, Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for UGA Extension in Fannin and Gilmer counties.

“As the COVID-19 crisis began to stretch out, it sparked a lot of interest among homeowners in using their backyards for food production,” Hoppers said. “We have had many webinars on growing vegetables, but with my background in fruit production, I thought it would be useful to do a series on backyard fruits.”

Unlike growing vegetable crops, most of which are annuals, nearly all fruit crops are perennial and need special attention to establish properly.

“With fruit crops, you’ve got to get off to a good start and it is a bit more complicated,” Hoppers said. “We decided to break the sessions out by commodities based on what could be grown throughout the Southeast to make it a more comprehensive, wide-reaching program for those looking to grow fruit in their backyards.”

Sessions have already been held on blackberries, blueberries and muscadines, with a session on strawberries scheduled for Friday, May 22. Twice-weekly sessions are held at noon on Wednesdays and Fridays through June 5 and will cover apples and pears, peaches and plums, specialty fruits and citrus.

“Specialty fruits will give a snapshot of lesser-grown fruits like figs, Asian persimmons and pomegranates,” Hopper explained.

“All of the sessions will be recorded, as we have had an overwhelming interest, with more than 1,000 people registered to attend and about 300 people attending per session,” Hoppers said. Recorded sessions will be available on the UGA Extension YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/ugaextension.

Visit tinyurl.com/UGAbackyardfruits for the full schedule and a link to register for upcoming sessions.

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