Question of the Week
Answer: Persimmons generally bloom late enough in the spring to avoid spring frosts, so site selection does not have to emphasize air drainage to the same degree that other early blooming tree crops require (e.g., peaches). Persimmons grow well on a wide range of soils, although they grow best on loamy, well-drained soils. As with other fruit trees, a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5 is optimal for tree growth.
The American persimmon can be found growing wild in wet, droughty, clayey, rocky, and sandy soils. However, remember that such wild trees have had the advantage of being grown from seed and are, therefore, sporting a taproot and have not suffered the trauma of transplanting. Transplanted nursery-grown stock will not have the same advantage. Therefore, if planting a new orchard— rather than collecting fruit from wild, established trees—the prudent orchardist will pick a site with, at the very least, good soil drainage.
Rootstock selection is an important pre-planting consideration for Asian persimmons (but not so much for American types because all American persimmons are grafted onto American persimmon seedling rootstock). Asian persimmons for the eastern U.S. are generally grafted onto seedlings of the American persimmon Diospyros virginiana. In the West, Asian persimmons are usually grafted onto D. lotus rootstock.
The main advantage of using American seedling rootstock for the Asian persimmon when planting in the East is that they tolerate excessive moisture and drought quite well; however, they are prone to suckering, which needs to be pruned out annually. (Otherwise, the suckers from the rootstock could “overgrow” and out-compete the grafted tops.) Asian cultivars grafted onto D. virginiana rootstocks also show a lack of uniformity of tree vigor and size. Like all fruit trees, persimmons require full sun to assure good tree and fruit growth, as well as fruit bud development. Trees should be spaced 15 to 16 feet apart within the rows, and rows need to be far enough apart to accommodate mowing, harvesting, etc.
To learn more about persimmons production, including astringency, general culture, rootstocks, pests, and marketing, consult the ATTRA publication Persimmons, Asian and American.
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