Development of Organic Production Practices for Pawpaw on Selected Rootstocks

2004 Annual Report for LS03-151

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2003: $153,698.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Kirk Pomper
Kentucky State University

Development of Organic Production Practices for Pawpaw on Selected Rootstocks


Visits to grower planting sites were conducted in February, 2004 to layout orchard designs, collect soil samples, and take digital photographs at each site. Seed from the pawpaw cultivars Sunflower, PA-Golden, and K8-2 and was also sown into 2500 one gallon containers in the greenhouse in February, 2004. In July, 2004, when the rootstocks were about 6 mm in diameter, the resulting seedlings were budded with buds from the pawpaw cultivars Shenandoah, Sunflower, or PA-Golden. Upon evaluation of the trees in September, only about 300 of the buds had successfully taken. The poor success rate in budding may have been due to the declining quality of the budwood used or rootstock/scion incompatibility problems. All trees will be over-wintered and the grafted trees will be used in 2005 to establish an experiment to determine the optimal rate of organic nitrogen for pawpaw tree growth, a flame cultivation experiment, and a rootstock trial. The seedlings that were not successful budded will be over-wintered until February, 2005, placed in greenhouses, and budded again in May, 2005. A pawpaw workshop was held on September 11, 2004 at the KSU Research Farm in Frankfort, Kentucky. Approximately 100 people, including tobacco farmers, producers for farmer’s markets, home gardeners, university faculty and members of the press, attended the workshop; they were from 13 states as well as Germany. There was a Propagation Roundtable that discussed seedling and clonal propagation methods used in this SARE study, as well as a demonstration on how to bud pawpaw rootstock. Growers involved with the SARE study held a roundtable discussion during the workshop. Participants tasted over 20 pawpaw fruit varieties, toured the Kentucky State University orchards and sampled pawpaw ice cream. A web site describing the project has been constructed and can be found at:

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

With the end of the tobacco support system, many small family farmers in the southeastern United States are attempting to find alternative crops for their long-term economic viability. Pawpaw has great potential for farmers in this region as a high-value fruit crop for processing and fresh market sales. Little information concerning organic production of pawpaw is currently available. Development of organic production recommendations would allow growers to facilitate fruit production and assist in the development of pawpaw as a niche organic crop. The development of rootstocks that will lead to early fruit production of pawpaw cultivars, about 3 years after planting instead of 4 to 5 years, will assist in the development of pawpaw as a commercially viable crop. Development of organic orchard management methods will allow farmers to adopt economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible practices. Workshops held to discuss organic pawpaw growing will provide farmers with the knowledge to successfully grow and market pawpaw as a new niche crop.


Douglas Archbold
Professor of Horticulture
University of Kentucky
Department of Horticulture
N-308C Agric. Science North
Lexington, KY 40546
Office Phone: 8592573352
Ron Powell
Ohio Pawpaw Growers Association
6549 Amelia Dr.
Cincinnati, OH 45241
Office Phone: 5137778367
Bill Mackintosh

1608 Russell Road
Berryville, VA 22611
Office Phone: 5406644668
Lesley Sanderson

1622 JI Road
Maxton, NC 28364
Office Phone: 9105214761
Roland McIntosh

621 Breckenridge Street
Stanton, KY 40380
Office Phone: 6066634059
Ilze Sillers

Daneli Farm
1 Sugar Hill Road
Versailles, KY 40383
Office Phone: 8598739324
Gary Morrell

Greengo Orchards
184 Hummingbird Lane
Taylorsville, NC 28681
Office Phone: 8286320830