Sunday, July 12, 2020


Persimmon seedlings. The seedlings in this photo receive about four hours of light shade a day, followed by heavy shade.
Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over-and-over again and being surprised when the outcome does not improve.

I moved about thirty persimmon seedlings into a row in the garden about two weeks ago. They promptly fried. I had about four survivors.

Southern Belle is a project girl. She was more than happy to help me move some more.

We moved them last night. I did the shovel work. S.B. did the bending over work. We planted them in fours, about 6" apart in each direction.

All told, we moved about 80 seedlings.

This time, I covered them with a thin, fluffy layer of wheat straw.

If you embiggen and look closely, you will see two seedlings hiding down there.

My hope is the seedlings will grow through the straw even as the mat compacts.

The picture in my head is that they will receive much less sun loading, almost zero wind (which can dry them out in a New Yawk minute) and that the mulch will hold the humidity from the ground close to the leaves.

It will take a few weeks to know if I am successful. By then, the roots will have integrated into the soil and the seedlings should be growing with joyful abandon.

I have persimmons on two ends of my property. The south end has seedlings and grafts. Some of the seedlings are male.

On the north end of my property I have all grafted trees and two males. One male is "Szukis" which is a switch-hitter. That is, it is a male that produces some fruit.

The difficulty in growing seedling persimmons and hoping for good fruit is that it is impossible to know if a given male is likely to produce "spitters" or "smile-and-swallow" fruit. "Szukis" produces good fruit and has a track record of a high percentage of good progeny, especially when paired with Juhl or similar persimmons.

The other male branch is one of Jerry Lehman's selections. He was kind enough to sell me persimmon scions. I told him I had a half-azzed interest in breeding persimmons and asked if he would be willing to sell me a male that he thought had potential. The exact experimental number of the male that he sent me is lost in antiquity, but the branch is still alive and grafted into a tree that is 90% Morris Burton.

These seedlings are almost certainly to be Morris Burton pollinated by Jerry Lehman's male.

The story behind Morris Burton is that a pig farmer named Morris Burton noticed a trail his hogs had beaten to one, particular, wild persimmon tree.

He tasted the fruit and decided it was good enough to propagate.

The first few years that Jim Claypoole was hybridizing, he used Morris Burton heavily (it is a parent of Dollywood) but then he drifted away from it.

Morris Burton fruit are smaller than most cultivated American persimmons. It is slightly more likely to produce progeny that have cosmetically ugly specks of tannin.

And then Lehman noticed that a few of the Morris Burton offspring could be eaten before they were dead-soft. That is, they were so low in tannin distributed at the cellular level that they could be eaten like tiny apples.

Suddenly, Morris Burton pollinated by one of Lehman's "elite" males sounded like a wonderful rootstock for grafting.

The thing about American persimmons is that they sucker profusely. You might plant a grafted persimmon but in time, your tree will be overwhelmed by a thicket of suckers that spring up from the rootstock.

Most of these persimmons are likely to end up in plantings to attract deer. I want the rootstock to at least have the potential to produce good-to-excellent fruit for human consumption.


  1. This practice of hijacking your threads is reprehensible but some times there is no other way. I'm seeing reports( that are truly sad. I much preferred your alternatives. I had several email exchanges with him in the past few years and by that I mean he answered my emails when I sent him one. I have decided to think of him as roaming the woods , but I doubt self delusion would've been approved by the gentleman.

    1. No problem on hijacking threads.

      I saw the reports as well.

      I am not giving it a lot of energy. If Remus had NOT slipped his mortal coil, then he would be embarrassed by all the speculation regarding his status/location. It is the exact opposite of quietly slipping from everybody's notice which is the whole point of "going dark".

      A single report, uncorroborated from a self-identified source.

      I estimate there is a 1%-to-20% Remus is still kicking, somewhere. R is/was a very private person. It is well within what he could do.

      So, I choose to not repeat the information.


  2. Most deer I ever shot was doing 'pest control' on a persimmon orchard in Virginia. We shot over 60 deer out of that orchard which was picked clean six feet up!

  3. So, as a wildlife planting, should one plant their persimmon seedlings in rows or clusters? Segregate by variety? I just finished separating the seedlings into one-per-pot specimens, with five groups of different parentage. Intending to transplant to ground around the equinox. Thoughts?

    1. My vote is to plant them thickly, maybe on 10' centers.

      If you are planting them as an edge species, you can pack them even closer, maybe one every 4'-to-6'.

      In general, half will be male and half will be female although that seems to vary greatly by pollen parent. You will want to cull most-or-all the males. Persimmons with 90 chromosome will set fruit without a pollinator. You will be able to tell they are boys when they first pollinate, the flowers will be in threes instead of singles.

      Then, some of the fruit will not be very tasty. You will probably want to cull those as well.

      If you end up culling 3/4 of the trees, then the individuals planted in a block that originally gave them 100 square-feet per tree will end up at 400 square-feet per tree. Trees planted as edge species at 4' apart will average 16' apart after culling 75% of them.


    2. Not to beat a dead horse, but 10' X 10' spacing means a hundred seedlings will just about fill up a quarter-acre.

      Around here, I think a 1/4 acre food plot is about perfect. Big enough that there is always something falling to the ground and therefore justifying deer coming in from a half-mile away. Small enough that the deer paths have to funnel into it and it doesn't produce so much that they can all come in at night.


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