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  • Author or Editor: Snake C. Jones x
  • HortTechnology x
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Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is a native North American tree that has potential as a new fruit crop or for use in landscapes, but until recently, little information has been available to nurseries on containerized production of this species. Pawpaw seedlings develop a strong taproot with a fragile root system, which can be easily damaged upon digging; therefore, most nurseries propagate trees in containers. Pawpaw seed requires stratification for optimal germination and seed is sensitive to desiccation. The seed also cannot tolerate freezing temperatures [<-15 °C (5.0 °F)]. A well-aerated potting substrate with a high sphagnum peat moss component (>75% by volume), cation exchange capacity, and water holding capacity can be used effectively in container production. Tall containers should be used to accommodate the developing taproot of seedlings. The slow-release fertilizer Osmocote 14-14-14 (14N-6.1P-11.6K) incorporated into Pro-Mix BX potting substrate can be used effectively as the sole fertilizer source at a treatment rate of 2.22 kg·m-3 (3.742 lb/yard3) in containerized pawpaw production. It can also be used at a lower rate of 0.81 kg·m-3 (1.365 lb/yard3) when supplemented with weekly applications of 500 mg·L-1 (ppm) of Peters 20-20-20 (20N-8.78P-16.6K) liquid-feed fertilizer. Bottom heating [32 °C (89.6 °F)] of container-grown pawpaw seedlings results in greater lateral and total root dry weight than in seedlings grown at ambient temperature [24 °C (75.2 °F)], which could increase the rate of establishment of seedlings in the field. Bottom heating of container-grown pawpaw seedlings could decrease both the time to produce a saleable plant and the cost of heating greenhouses. Growth of containerized pawpaw seedlings is enhanced by low to moderate shading with polypropylene shade fabric (28% or 51%) outdoors and low shading (33%) in the greenhouse, in a manner typical of that reported for other shade-preferring plants. Low to moderate shading of pawpaw seedlings grown outdoors greatly increases leaf number, total leaf area, and total plant dry weight compared to nonshaded seedlings, suggesting that commercial nurseries can improve production of containerized pawpaw seedlings using a shading regime outdoors.

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Marketed as a fresh fruit, the pawpaw (Asimina triloba) has a short shelf life, only 2-3 days at room temperature and up to 3 weeks with refrigeration. There is commercial processing potential for pawpaw pulp in juices, ice cream, yogurt, baked goods, and other products. Consumer acceptability of such products needs to be investigated. One hundred and five attendees of the 2nd Annual Pawpaw Field Day at Kentucky State University (KSU), Frankfort, Ky., participated in a tasting of pawpaw products; 56% of tasters were male; 76% were over 40 years of age; 72% of tasters had eaten pawpaw previously. Each item was rated on a scale from 1 = liked it extremely to 7 = disliked it extremely. Pawpaw ice cream was the best-received item (55% of tasters liked it extremely), followed by pawpaw cake with lemon icing, liked extremely by 45%. The pawpaw/grape juice drink was liked extremely by 31% of participants. Three alternative recipes for pawpaw butter were presented; the plain pawpaw butter was liked extremely by 26% of tasters; pawpaw butter prepared with lemon and grape juice was liked extremely by 11%, while the version prepared with orange and lemon was liked extremely by only 8%. Two versions of pawpaw custard were presented. The custard prepared from ripe, mild-fl avored fruit was liked extremely by 42% of tasters, while the custard prepared from mixed under-ripe, over-ripe and bruised fruit was liked extremely by only 16%. Ratings by persons unfamiliar with pawpaw fl avor were significantly lower (P < 0.05) only for the two pawpaw custards; tasters age 40 years or younger gave significantly higher ratings for pawpaw ice cream (P < 0.05) and significantly lower ratings for both pawpaw custards (select, P < 0.05 and mix, P < 0.01) and the pawpaw/grape juice drink (P < 0.05).

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