Pawpaw not looking so healthy

Here is my KSU Chappell Pawpaw that I purchased from Nolin River Nut Tree in 2019.

I’m concerned about the bark and the overall health of this tree. The bark looks wrinkled. I did the scratch test and I see green.
What could cause this? Treatable?

Or am I not being patient enough? I’m growing out seedlings and they leafed out. My Kentucky Champion has leafed out and will fruit for the first time.

Is it possible to graft a small piece to my KC to save the variety?

Are any buds swelling? It may survive if you see green but maybe not so I would take cuttings and graft onto a different Pawpaw. I’ve had success doing clef grafts with Pawpaw.

Maybe it’s not ready for full sun, usually it takes a year or more before new plants can take full sun. You might try repotting it and growing a year in a place where after 10 am it’s in full shade. Or you can build a canopy that shades it after 10 am. The ones that I have lost were due primarily to inadequate shade during the early years. When I learned how to shade them, they did much better. After three years of healthy growth they can withstand the sun all day if properly watered.
Kent, wa

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I would say be patient too, i have 4 pawpaws, and one of them only just started to unfurl the first leaf of the season. My trees were also planted in 2019 (one in 2020, but not the late leafing one). Since i am likely warmer than you, I would say give it a little more time. Taking a cutting and grafting is all fine too, but for the tree, i would just wait it out.

Speaking of which, does anyone know about how long it should take for a pawpaw to put on some real growth? I feel like mine are all the same size as when i planted them. They are all partial sun, though they probably get full sun until about noon, then covered with 60% shade cloth.

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I hate to say it but to me, that tree looks dead.
Definitely shouldn’t look like that.

I had 2 trees from Nolin River die. They were big trees but the bare root delivery did them in, in my view.
But they died the first summer, so a little different sitch.

I would say you should see moderate growth in second year and pretty good growth in third and beyond, if the tree is happy.
If they are over 18 inches high, at this age certainly they can take full sun.

Is there competition from grass, etc? Dry soil?
Have you applied nitrogen? They like it.

No buds swollen yet. IDK. May try cutting a small scion, hydrate in water and graft it.

The tree is planted in ground. I hope it wakes up. I really don’t feel like digging out that tap root. It’s got green below the graft. Maybe a sucker will pop out later?

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Every spring apply Espoma chicken manure, Peets Mulch. When I see that the pawpaws leafing out, I give them a dose of Nitrogen first.

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Yes good point- it could be that just the graft died.

Sounds like you are doing the right things there. Just be careful of course not to mound the mulch up the trunk (you probably know that)

It’s still green with the scratch test. Have you had any experience with grafting a piece thats slowly dying to a compatible tree? In my case, I have a KC that responds well to grafting per englands orchard website.

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If you still have green, I would say (research based, very minimal real world experience) try just giving it a bit of nitrogen, a hefty layer of wood chips (3-5") a couple feet in every direction around the trunk but not touching the trunk, and set up a temporary shade structure (a rag tied to some t posts or similar). Water to keep the soil fairly moist to ‘baby it’ and see if that helps. If it was me, I’d probably try taking a bud to save it, but on Chapell, I’m not sure if you are actually legally allowed to do that. Neil Peterson has said that he is OK with you grafting additional trees of his patented cultivars as long as you keep them for yourself, I do not know how that works for KSU cultivars. You may want to send a note/pictures to the nursery you purchased from and see what course of action they suggest.

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how has your weather been lately. i’ve never seen a problem like that with pawpaws, but too much or too little water (rain) and I’ve seen bark problems in lilacs like that. Sadly it generally doesn’t portend favorable things…(sorry)


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I recently had a whole tree die. It was “green” under the bark but a faded green, not vibrant green of a living tree. So it can be tricky.

I’ve never tried to graft sketchy scions - if you have a spare branch to use as stock, it’s worth a shot.

I wouldn’t put a lot of confidence in the claim about KC. All pawpaws in my opinion have generally good graftability. However, some KSU research shows some seed parents may be better than others for rootstocks.

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As far as I know KSU would be fine if you clone their stuff for your own use.

That is good to know. That would make my future Chapell vs Mango interstem “research” a bit less precarious. Is that just based on personal experience? I am happy to abide by patent law but if they allow it, might as well take advantage of their superior genetics!

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Well honestly it’s not based on a lot, come to think of it LOL
I feel like I read it somewhere or was told at some point but who knows if I could put my finger on it.
Certainly I support folks playing by the rules, so maybe emailing them would be good.

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I sent Sheri an email. I’ll share when she responds. The answer should be helpful to @JustYourAverageGuy and his current debacle for this thread as well.

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So Sheri gave this as part of her response “my initial thought is there wouldn’t be a problem with it since you wouldn’t be selling Chappell trees per se that would be producing Chappell fruit. If you aren’t selling trees and it is just for personal use/fruit production at your orchard or home, it is fine.”

That to me means there should be no problem with trying to salvage a few buds @JustYourAverageGuy, and @TrilobaTracker for our own use, it seems to be a green light!