Oriental Persimmons and Pawpaws: Two Sustainable Crops for the South
Tobacco farmers are looking for sustainable additions/alternatives to tobacco. Some current replacements are corn, wheat, soybeans or cotton. Frequently however, production of corn, wheat, soybeans and cotton requires a lot of land, pesticides and equipment to be profitable throughout the South.
In this project, Oriental persimmons and pawpaws will be tried as a sustainable addition/alternative to tobacco. They are crops that are easy to grow and adaptable to most of North Carolina and the mid and lower south. Oriental persimmons and pawpaws have low maintenance requirements and are relatively free of pests and thus require little pesticide use. Non-toxic pesticides will be used to deal with any pests should they occur. Drip irrigation will be used to reduce water use. Leguminous cover crops will be planted to reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizers. Herbicide usage will be replaced with mowing.
The producer will plant one half-acre each of one-year-old persimmon and pawpaw trees. He plans to be able to begin picking fruit in two years and have commercial quantities in three years. At that time, the producer and his cooperators will hold a field day for interested growers as well as putting out fact sheets and news releases.