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  • Author or Editor: R. Neal Peterson x
  • HortTechnology x
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The pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is a new crop in the early stages of domestication. Recently commercialization has become feasible with the availability of high quality varieties. The history of pawpaw varieties is divided into three periods: 1900-50, 1950-85, and 1985 to the present. The history before 1985 was concerned primarily with the discovery of superior selections from the wild but experienced a serious break in continuity around 1950. The third period has been characterized by greater developmental activity. Larger breeding programs have been pursued, regional variety trials initiated, a germplasm repository established, and a formal research program at Kentucky State University (KSU) instituted. Future breeding will likely rely on dedicated amateurs with the education and means to conduct a 20-year project involving the evaluation of hundreds of trees. For the foreseeable future, governments and universities will not engage in long-term pawpaw breeding.

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Beginning in 1993, 12 institutions and individuals and The PawPaw Foundation (PPF) embarked on a joint venture to evaluate commercially-available, named pawpaw (Asimina triloba) varieties and PPF's advanced selections within and outside of the pawpaw's native range. Each Pawpaw Regional Variety Trial (PRVT) planting, consists of about 300 trees, with five to eight replications (blocks) of 28 grafted scion varieties per block in a randomized complete block design (10 named varieties and 18 clones selected in the PPF orchards at the University of Maryland Experiment Stations at Queenstown and Keedysville, Md.). Variables being examined in the trial include climatic effect, culture, pests, growth, fl owering, yield, and fruit characteristics. In 1995, PRVT plantings were established in Kentucky (Princeton, Ky.), Louisiana, North Carolina, Oregon, and South Carolina. In 1998, a second planting was established in Kentucky (Frankfort, Ky.). In 1999, PRVT plantings were established in Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, and Ohio. In the Frankfort planting, 95% of the trees have survived. Based on height and trunk diameter measurements taken from 1998 to 2001, most selections displayed good vigor. The variety PA-Golden had the best early fruit production as evidenced by the fact that five of eight trees had fruit in 2001. In the Princeton, planting, only 54% of the trees have survived. The selections `Sunfl ower', `PA-Golden', `NC-1', `Wilson', 1-23, 8-20, and 9-58 showed the best fruit production and survival rates (>63%) in 2001. Based on limited data collected so far in the Kentucky trials, `PA-Golden' and `Sunfl ower' have performed well in the two locations and other varieties and PPF selections show promise.

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