Sanderson Farms is in the coastal plain of North Carolina and produces mixed vegetables such as greens, butter beans, green beans, peas, potatoes, pumpkins, onions, tomatoes, etc. Fruit produced are blueberries, muscadine grapes, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, figs and strawberries.
When we first considered new crops to grow, we thought these two crops, oriental persimmons and pawpaws were borderline in our climatic zone. Persimmons were grown successfully in Florida and we thought they might be killed by severe cold this far north. Pawpaws were grown successfully further north where they were subject to more cold than they would receive in Robeson County. Nevertheless, the project was started in March, 1999.
The Oriental Persimmons grew beautifully the first year. However, there was a loss of 27 trees. But the withstood the cold well. The trees went into dormancy and survived when temperatures dropped to 14-15 degrees Fahrenheit; and there was no damage at all. The Persimmon trees bore their first crop last year.
There was a loss of 50 percent of the pawpaws due to too much water with the drip system. The trees that survived are beautiful and will bear their first crop of pawpaws this year. We have since adjusted our watering and replaced the lost trees and are bringing the orchard into its potential productivity.
We felt that because we are in a hotter area that the pawpaws should be protected from the sun for the first two years. However, we did not find any loss due to sun scald. We do recommend that new growers protect young, newly planted pawpaws from the sun by placing a shade cloth over each tree. No pests have been seen on either pawpaws or persimmons so that no spraying was required. Clover and manures have provided the needed nitrogen. Land plaster which is recycled from dry wall was used to provide magnesium.