- Fruits: persimmon
- Crop Production: grafting
- Farm Business Management: value added
Persimmons are native trees and the fruit is packed with healthy antioxidants and it fits with the Grow Native/ Grow Local food trends. Since it is well adapted, many farmers in Missouri have persimmon patches scattered on their property.
However, they are rarely utilized because wild persimmons tend to produce small, seedy fruit and only female trees bear. Grafted trees of improved varieties (larger size, fewer seeds, better flavor) are now available from nurseries but can be costly.
Grafting improved varieties to existing seedlings can improve production because: 1) The fruit will have marketable value; 2) selected scions are all female and will bear; 3) the rootstock is well adapted to the region; and 4) This is a low cost and sustainable method.
However, most grafting systems work best on small seedlings. Wild seedlings vary in size and to take advantage of the well-established root systems it would be best to also graft to the larger sized trees.
This project was designed to test/demonstrate grafting on large diameter persimmon native seedlings (.5 to 3.0-inch diameter) and measure comparative success. A second objective is to provide a preliminary economic comparison of grafting native seedlings compared to purchased nursery trees.
Based on the results of the project, I would conclude:
-The highest success rate was on 1 to 3 inch diameter seedlings
-Extensive root systems power quick and aggressive growth from scions and could result in earlier fruit production
-Grafting adapted large diameter fully established native persimmons may have economic benefits vs. purchased grafted persimmons
-Larger diameter grafting with native persimmons using bark grafting techniques works!
-Further work/analysis on fruit production, economics, fertilization and pruning is needed
I would estimate that over 500 people were exposed to this project via our various outreach approaches. Perhaps around 300 were farmers or landowners. I also found that the YouTube channel was the most effective method to generate interest and dialogue with potential adopters. I know that 4 or 5 growers are experimenting with persimmon grafting after hearing about the project but the hope is that there are many more that I do not know about.
Project Objectives are:
1. Evaluate bark inlay/arrowhead grafting methods on large persimmon seedlings (.5, 1.0, 1.5. 2.0, 2.5, 3.0 inches in diameter). Share data through field days and conference/poster presentations.
2. Provide a preliminary economic comparison of grafted natives vs. purchased grafted trees.
3. Promote and increase the use of improved persimmons with Missouri farmers through public relations articles and conferences