Experimental fruit: Project studies which varieties do best in Montana


by Alexander Deedy, Independent Record

Aside from Flathead cherries, huckleberries and some apples, there isn’t much local fruit in Montana’s food supply.

But researchers with Montana State University and its extension office are looking to change that.

“We’ve got to get more fruit into our local food systems,” said Brent Sarchet, the agricultural extension agent with the Lewis and Clark County Extension service.

On Thursday, Sarchet and other workers planted about 200 small-fruit bushes on Ken McNeil’s property on York Road near Helena.

There were 26 varieties of bushes, all cold, hardy fruits like currants, aronia, haskaps and saskatoons. For the next few years, Sarchet and other researchers will watch the bushes to find out which bear the most fruit.

The plot on McNeil’s property is part of a larger MSU project that includes experimental plots in Bozeman, Kalispell, a second Helena location and other areas around the state. Now in its third year, the project has seen some results from other plots where larger fruit trees like apples, pears and plums were planted.

Sarchet said its too soon to tell what the best varieties are, but the first round of results from the project are set to be published this winter.

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Source:  Helena Independent Record

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