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American persimmons in the Pacific Northwest: any tips?
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frugivore
19 Posts
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October 23, 2020 - 1:32 pm

Hi folks,

I'm looking into planting an American persimmon in my not-so-big yard. A few questions for those of you that are some years ahead of me on this:

  1. How big can I expect an American persimmon to get in the Willamette Valley of Oregon? (I'm located near Portland). I understand these trees are supposed to get bigger than Asian persimmons...but how much bigger?  As usual, estimates I've found online vary wildly, and are probably basing their numbers off of trees grown in their native range.
  2. Do American persimmons need to be pruned into any specific configuration (e.g., open vase), or can you just leave them be for the most part? While I've been able to find pruning advice from various extension references for Asian persimmons, I've struck out for American persimmons.
  3. I've heard of partially self-fertile cultivars, though I'm leaning towards a fully self-fertile one, such as the "Prairie" series offered by One Green World. However, I've found very little specific information on any of these, especially from growers in the Pacific Northwest. Does anyone here have any experience with any of these? (tree vigor, fruit quality, etc.):
    1. Prairie Star (H-118)
    2. Prairie Sun (A-33)
    3. Prairie Dawn (H-55A)
    4. Prairie Gem (F-25)

Any advice you're willing to share would be most appreciated!!

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John S
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October 26, 2020 - 6:56 pm

Great question.

I am growing 5 selected varieties of American persimmon and several seedlings. If you grow them in a river bottom in the American South, they might actually grow to be 60 feet high.  It's hot all day and hot all night for 6 months of the year there, which is yet another reason why I like living here. 

I have been growing American persimmons here in the Portland area for about 12 years.  They grow slowly here, so it is easy to keep them within 10 to 15 feet, as I do.  They tend to be pest and disease free, so no particular pruning strategy is required.  I have mine mostly pruned to a central leader, but I don't think it matters much. 

I am growing H-118. It fruited for the first time this year. It is delicious.  I would put it on a par with Garrettson as the best I've tasted.  That would be one that I'd recommend.

Have you tried the American persimmons in the HOS orchard at CCC?

I have been adding biochar to the drip line of each tree and it has had great results.  Persimmon is one of the fruit trees that most prefers soil ph close to 7.

You are embarking on a very rewarding adventure.

John S
PDX OR

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jafar
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October 26, 2020 - 7:34 pm

John, I'm glad to hear you're on the bandwagon with H-118 AKA Prairie Star.

I'm enjoying my best crop so far this year.   I've noticed that even after the flesh loses its astringency, the skin or some bits are still bitter.   I notice mostly in the bits that get stuck in my molars.  If I have the presence of mind to eat them with just my front teeth, I find them much more enjoyable.  

The bits left behind remind me a bit of getting too close to the pawpaw skin.  I'm wondering if its something like a supertaster quirk, or if its something about this cultivar or my conditions.

Also reminds me a bit of the aftertaste of when I juiced some Citrus hystrix, Thai limes (trying to avoid the more recognizable name).

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John S
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October 27, 2020 - 8:47 am

Thanks for showing me a better name for that lime.  It's one of those, "I don't know what to call it" situations.

It's funny, because I was just thinking that you must be one of those supertasters who can sense the tiniest amount of astringency or bitterness.  I will never be hired by one of those French restaurants for that.

I do notice with nearly all of my American persimmons, if I eat them just when they fall when I jiggle them, they are spectacular, with a full array of fascinating flavors.  If I eat them 2 or 3 days early, I get less spectacular highs and more bitter and astringency.

What I have done is to put my old fruit sox on the fruit about 5 days before ripening. There is no spectacular color to attract pests. The squirrels and birds won't eat them at this stage.  They are even protected if they fall on the ground.

I am looking forward to getting bigger harvests of H 118 in the future.

The biochar made a huge difference in these American persimmons.

JOhn S
PDX OR

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frugivore
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October 27, 2020 - 3:26 pm

Thanks John and Jafar for your input! Out of the Prairie series, H-118 is the cultivar that I've heard the most about online (mostly good reviews), and I'm glad to hear that you both have had largely positive experiences with it (it makes my decision easier!)

John, I have not been out the the HOS orchard yet.  I've only recently begun my horticultural journey (this is only my second year as a home owner), and current events are forcing me to make my decisions on what to plant without having sampled the end product (I suppose I could wait a year [or more, depending on how long things take to settle], but I'm impatient 🙂

Jafar, interesting that you are experiencing some astringency that is persisting after harvest.  Is this something you've noticed with other cultivars, too, or is this particular to H-118?  Never having tasted an American persimmon (though I love the Asian persimmons), I'm curious to finally get ahold of one. (I plan on checking if I'm a supertaster with my kindergarten-age daughter as a Covid-homeschool activity later this year 🙂

John, you mention that you typically allow the fruit to fall before harvest -- how do they survive the impact? Do they ripen well indoors if picked early?

Also, thanks for the pH and biochar tips!

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John S
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October 28, 2020 - 2:56 pm

I don't usually allow them to fall, because that increases the likelihood that a squirrel will eat it, not me. But if I just jiggle it a bit, it might fall into my hand.   I haven't had a problem with them squishing on impact, but as I say, I keep the trees to about 12 feet.  I have read on another fruit growing site, growing fruit, that they do ripen inside, though I havent' tried it.

IMHO, H-118 is less astringent than some others.  I have grown many fruits that I only tasted when my tree ripened it for the first time.  If you contact Tonia, you can probably go taste one if you can get to Oregon City.  American persimmons have a different taste than the Asian ones.  MOre butterscotch/rum.  Complex flavor.  I only grow the Americans because I prefer the flavor.

John S
PDX OR

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John S
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October 28, 2020 - 4:37 pm

Frugivore,

I don't know  where you live, but I live on the west side of POrtland. If you can get here, you can probably taste one.

John S
PDX OR

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
476 Posts
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October 29, 2020 - 9:57 am

I have Yates on American Persimmon rootstock.  It gets a good crop every year.   Really delicious persimmons.  So far, at 8 years old, it's about 12 feet tall.  No pollinizer needed.

I have H118 but it is younger, about 4 years old.  Currently is it about 12 feet tall too.  This is the first year for fruit and I have not eaten any yet.  They seem smaller than Yates but maybe that's the location - less water and near some tall arborvitaes.

Something else to think about.  I also have Nikita's Gift, a hybrid between American and Asian species.  The fruit is much larger than Yates, the tree is smaller at about 8 feet tall, more productive, no pollinizer needed.  The flavor is between Asian and American, more flavor than Saijo, anyway, but maybe not quite as rich as Yates.

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John S
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October 29, 2020 - 2:23 pm

Daniel,

Considering the imminent demise of HOS, let's pm each other so we can do a scion exchange of persimmon scions.

Thanks,
John S
PDX OR

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frugivore
19 Posts
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October 29, 2020 - 4:59 pm

John: thanks for the additional information and the invite! It sounds like we are in the same area -- I'll definitely message you about a visit.

Daniel: I'm amazed that your H-118 is 12' tall at 4 years. I'm at the end of the 1st growing season for some Asian persimmons and pawpaws (all starting off as 6-12" whips and not all that much bigger now), so that may just be me having in difficulty imagining any of my trees getting to a size that is not in danger of trampling by my kids 🙂 Anyway, that's an excellent suggestion about the Nikita's gift.  I've read about it, and am considering it, though I do have a baby Saijo, so I was thinking it would be nice to get something a little different. I wish I had more space for experimenting!

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
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October 29, 2020 - 6:16 pm

Frugivore, The two American persimmons in my yard are fast and lanky growers.  They actually tend to drop because they can't hold up well under their own weight.   The first year is the slowest, they just mope for a year while their roots are growing.  It might also depend on their rootstock.

If I can, I'll get out and take photo tomorrow.  I meant to today, but other jobs diverted my attention, and I'm like a dog on a squirrel ranch Smile.

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
476 Posts
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October 30, 2020 - 2:24 pm

Here are some persimmon tree photos that I took in my yard today, outside Battle Ground, WA.

Nikita's Gift.  About 7 or 8 years old.  It's more upright when there are no fruit on it.  This tree has not failed to bear since it started in about its 3rd year.

Nikitas Gift Persimmon

Prairie Star Persimmon, about 4 years old.  I think this is a 6 foot fence post. 

Prairie Star Persimmon

Close up of Prairie Star Persimmons

Prairie Star Persimmon

Comparison.  The small one is Prairie Star.  The bigger ones are Nikita's Gift.

Nikitas Gift and Prairie Star

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frugivore
19 Posts
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October 30, 2020 - 9:05 pm

Daniel, thanks so much for posting the photos! That Nikita's gift especially is a beautiful tree, with a big crop and leaves mostly gone. Neat to see the Nikita's gift side-by-side with the prairie star, too.  This is really helpful to me to get an idea of what to expect some years down the line.

And I can definitely relate with the "squirrel ranch" analogy -- especially with small kids (and about a million actual squirrels) that are constantly needing my attention and/or making a mess of the yard.

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atwallace
3 Posts
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October 22, 2021 - 4:45 pm

John S., can you tell me how you added the biochar?  Did you just put in around the tree on top of the soil?  What method did you use to make your biochar?

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John S
1044 Posts
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October 23, 2021 - 10:10 pm

I dug in the biochar to the depth of the shovel, around the tree's drip line.
john S
PDX OR

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