We're looking to add a small to medium persimmon to our modest backyard orchard. I've seen that a few people have experimented with various cultivars on various rootstocks in the area, and I'm wondering if there is a consensus. Many of the trees I see available from California orchards appear to be on D. Lotus, while I've heard the american D. Virginia is often offered at the annual Scion exchange.
The planting area will be in fairly rich soil on a slight terrace in backyard, but it's still SE Portland, so the soil is still fairly clay-ey. It will have access to drip irrigation in the summertime, so drought-tolerance -- at least during first couple years -- shouldn't be an issue. I've read there are some suckering issues with D. Virginia, but my main concern is something that will reliably survive our wet winters, and also support in-time ripening, if there happens to be any influence there. The cultivars I've been looking at have been Asian, particularly Chocolate, and Izu. Survivability, taste, and appearance are top criteria, in that order.
Any insight from experienced hands, or based on performance at HOS Orchard would be appreciated!
I don't have any real expertise but some impressions based on observations. The year I bought persimmon rootstock from the propagation fair the offering was D.Lotus; as I found out later that was what was available to be had that year, not by any certain design, just availability of any. As is my habit, where I set the pot down at home is where the roots grew through the pot and established until I determine to do something else. I'm in NE Portland, spitting distance from the airport if the wind is right, the soil having a fair amount of clay, but getting better with additional organic material added to the surface sporadically. The D.lotus awaiting another (2nd) run at grafting, actually top working at this point, seems happy enough at this point (maybe around 10 years+ in the ground).
The persimmon collection at the HOS arboretum, I believe, is all on D. Virginiana. I have not seen a problem with suckering from the roots on either the Asian or the American grafted trees.
About three years ago at the early November potluck and annual meeting, Tonia the arboretum manager had some samples for one of the board members who left before the exchange could happen, resulting in the samples being offered to moi to take home . Four astringent varieties still firm, 3 or 4 samples of each; Meakawa, Russian Kaki, Saijo and Chocolate. They came ripe successionally I think in that order, however the Chocolate samples that I had never ripened enough to be palatable. The following year, after a volunteer shift at the Arb, I was offered a similar representative sample of tree sheddings of the same four varieties. I noticed a similar pattern of successional ripening as before, (which might have to be reconfirmed as to accuracy,.... and I'm willing). Again the Chocolate did not ripen to a satisfactory degree- whether this is because it was off the tree too soon to continue ripening or any other reason i cannot say for sure. My suspicion is it is a little later than the others mentioned.
What I do know is that the Saijo, Meakawa, and Russian Kaki were all delightful, rich in flavor, almost date-like in comparison to the usual commercial Asian offerings of fuyu or hachiya. A little smaller than the fuyu etc., 3x-4x larger than the americans, elongated acorn shape, pointed. Quite worthwhile for my taste and what I'll be attempting to propagate given timing and materials.
I harvest Fuyu from the inner NE (Irvington) around Halloween; Hachiya from inner SE (Richmond) the weekend after the Thanksgiving holiday.
DanielW out of Vancouver Wa. has Nikitas Gift that he like very well, and ripens for him there.
There are several persimmon trees within a mile of me in SE PDX; most are planted on flat ground (even some in parking strips) and were likely planted without any special prep. They have all been in over 10 years and all are fruitful. 10-20 feet tall. Drainage does not appear to be a problem.
I have used the American Diospyros virginiana without problems. As you can see, it seems that PNW is a very fortunate area, which seems to be able to take all three. I think that the early Americans tend to ripen more reliably than many of the Asians. Some other areas are too cold for lotus, Asian, or not enough chill hours for the American varieties.
Which is awesome - I was able to find a Chocolate in town thats a pretty good size and decent price, but I have not been able to find anyone who has successfully ripened them! Do Persimmons generally require heat to sweeten? Given the fact that they ripen as or after leaves fall, I assumed it wasn't a sunlight/photosynthesis thing(?)
My early Americans (Garretson and Early GOlden) start ripening in late September, way before leaf fall. NC-10, which hasn't fruited for me yet, is supposed to ripen much earlier than those two, so I would go with the Americans if I wanted a reliably ripening group. Two specific Asian persimmons that tend to ripen more dependably here are Izu and Saijo.
This may be too late, but here is my experience.
I have Saijo and Nikita's Gift on D. lotus, in Battleground, WA which is a little cooler and shorter season than Portland, I think.
Both ripen for me, although late. Neither requires a pollinizer. Last year I let most of them ripen on the tree. I like to ripen some early, just place in a closed box with apple or banana, which give off ethylene gas that ripens persimmons.
I don't know if rootstock species affects scion vigor in persimmons but it would make sense that D. virgiana would impart more vigor.
I have Yates, an American persimmon, on D. virgiana. It also fruits without a pollenizer.
I remember reading Raintree's info on Asian persimmons, that most don't ripen in Morton WA at their nursery because it isn't warm enough there, but Saijo did. That's why I chose Saijo.
LE Cook grows Futu on D. lotus in California and is very happy with it, stating lotus is superior to kaki. Info here. UC Davis offers some info, including disease resistance or tolerance, and that using D. virgiana gives variation in results, so one person's experience might be different from another's.