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  • Author or Editor: Kirk W. Pomper x
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Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is an under-exploited small tree with commercial potential as a fruit crop, ornamental tree, and source of secondary products with insecticidal and medicinal properties. It is most often propagated from seeds that are recalcitrant and must be stored moist at a chilling temperature. Seeds display combinational (morphophysiological) dormancy. Endogenous, physiological dormancy is broken by about 100 days of chilling stratification followed by a period of warm moist conditions where the small embryo develops prior to seedling emergence about 45 days after the warm period begins. Pawpaw cultivars with superior fruit characteristics are propagated by grafting onto seedling understocks. The most common practice is chip budding. Other methods of clonal propagation have proven problematic. Pawpaw can be propagated from cuttings, but only in very young seedling stock plants. Micropropagation from mature sources is not yet possible, but shoot proliferation has been accomplished from seedling explants and explants rejuvenated by induction of shoots from root cuttings of mature plants. However, rooting of microcuttings and subsequent acclimatization has not been successful.

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The pawpaw [Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal] has great potential as a new fruit crop. A pawpaw variety trial was established in Fall 1995 in Princeton, Ky. as a joint Kentucky State Univ.-Univ. of Kentucky research effort with the objective to identify superior varieties for Kentucky. A randomized block experimental design was used with 8 replicates of 28 grafted scion selections on seedling rootstock. Cultivars being tested included Middletown, Mitchell, NC-1, Overleese, PA-Golden, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, Sunflower, Susquehanna, Taylor, Tay-two, Wells, and Wilson. The other 15 clones were selections from the PawPaw Foundation. In 2002 and 2003, the following parameters were examined: tree survival, trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA), average fruit weight, total fruit harvested per tree, average fruit per cluster, total yield per tree, and yield efficiency. In 2003, 54% of the trees had survived, with `Susquehanna' (13%) showing the poorest survival. Based on TCSA, most selections displayed excellent vigor, with the exception of the selections: 5-5 and `Overleese'. Average fruit weight was greatest in 1-7-2 (194 g), 1-68 (167g), 4-2 (321 g), 5-5 (225 g), 7-90 (166g), 9-58 (176 g), 10-35 (167 g), NC-1 (180 g), `Sunflower' (204 g), and `Shenandoah' (168g), with the smallest fruit in `Middletown' (70 g), `Wells' (78 g), and `Wilson' (88 g). The selections `Wilson' (81), `Middletown' (75), and `Wells' (70) had the greatest average number of fruit per tree, whereas 4-2 (9), 5-5 (17) and 8-20 (15) the fewest. Yield efficiency and average fruit per cluster also varied greatly among selections. Several pawpaw selections in the trial show promise for production in Kentucky.

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The American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is a slow-growing, moderately sized tree fruit native to the forests of Kentucky. This tree fruit is in the early stages of commercial production with many cultivars selected from the wild. Small orchards of commercially available cultivars are planted in Kentucky. Persimmons are normally dioecious, and female trees require cross-pollination to produce fruit. There are two races of persimmon: the tetraploid (60-chromosome) race is centered in the southern Appalachian region, while the hexaploid (90-chromosome) race generally occupies a range north and west of the tetraploid range. These ranges overlap in Kentucky. Because the ranges overlap, cross-pollination may cause sexual incompatibility, resulting in pollination without fertilization, and therefore seedless fruits of poor quality. The objective of this study was to assess the ploidy level of commercially available American persimmon cultivars and native Kentucky persimmon populations. Leaf samples were collected from 45 cultivars and advanced selections, as well as 45 trees from native populations in Bullitt, Barren, and Franklin Counties. Flow cytometer analysis showed that only four of the selected cultivars were from the tetraploid race: Ennis Seedless, Weeping, Sugar Bear, and SFES; the remaining cultivars were from the hexaploid race. Both hexaploid and tetraploid American persimmon trees were identified in the populations sampled in the Bullitt County locations, but only tetraploid races were found in Franklin and Barren Counties. Because pollen from native trees could result in seedless fruit formation of poor quality when native seedlings are used as pollinizers in commercial production of American persimmon, ploidy level of seedlings needs to be considered.

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