Planting Prunus Americana and American Persimmon

Hey everybody! I planted my first fruit trees this spring(Apple, Pear, Peach, Sour Cherry, and I seem to have caught the bug! All of the research I’ve done on my new obsession has lead me here, where I’ve been lurking for several months. I’ve already learned a ton from you guys! Thank you for creating such a comprehensive resource for fruit growing!


I am currently trying to put some planning into expanding my backyard orchard. I’d like to try and get some plums and American Persimmon planted next year. I do believe that I should be able to source some rootstock from the state game commission this winter(prunus americana and american persimmon). I am wondering if I should also try and source scion wood for the same time to attempt bench grafting, or if I would be better off just to plant and source scions for the following season. I’m very new to grafting, and although I’ve read a lot on the forum about grafting both plum and persimmon, wouldn’t mind any tips you might want to throw my way.


Also looking for insight into varieties that others in similar locations have experience with. I’m located in north central PA(zone 5b/6a). The idea in establishing my backyard orchard is to locate the more labor intensive crops closest to the house, and plant lower fuss options in a more permaculture style planting as I move further from the house. Are American Persimmons as low fuss as I’ve read? I am mostly interested in Prunus Americana hybrids for the plums. I’m really looking for a good compromise on flavor/variety/low fuss on those, productivity itself isn’t as big a concern for my backyard planting.


Thank you all again! This forum has already proven to be an invaluable resource, and I’m happy to be here!

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Don’t American plums get brown rot, black knot, and devoured by plum curculio?

I’ve got no personal experience with them, hence me asking for more information. Do they?

Unless you get an improved variety like South Dakota or Vic’s red the fruits are very likely to be very small with a bitter skin.
Likewise a random wild type will have variable disease and insect resistance but is very likely to be susceptible and MASSIVELY increase stonefruits pest and disease pressure if you are growing other stonefruits

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I wasn’t even aware that there were improved varieties of pure americana! I’ll definitely look into those! I was really interested in some of the japanese hybrids.


https://uncommonfruit.cias.wisc.edu/japanese-american-hybrid-plums/


So far this is the only information I’ve been able to find on any of those.

So your telling me that I should be including any plum plantings into a spray program along with other stone fruits?

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Many of the “Japanese” plums available today are actually fairly complex hybrids
Toka and Superior are some great ones

I was thinking you were planning on having a giant suckering grove of wild American plums. Those would act as a massive reservoir for stonefruit diseases and pests. Stonefruits generally have more disease pressure than other fruits, especially in the NE making a spray program more likely to be necessary depending on your goals

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I’m mostly interested in them as rootstock. I know black knot is an issue around here, and have read that they have a good resistance. The end goal would be a variety of plums in a smaller planting with the least amount of hassle possible on my end

In approximate order of ease of growing:

Persimmon, relatively few pests or diseases, some varmints eat them

Mulberry, Easy to grow, birds will eat them

Pear, choose varieties carefully and they are low maintenance

Pecan, very carefully chosen northern varieties

Blackberry, choose good varieties for your climate

Blueberry, northern varieties, birds will eat them

Pawpaw, several very good varieties, a bit picky about soil and location

Stone fruit, brown rot, plum curculio, varmints, conspire to deprive you

Apples, carefully picked varieties, lots of pests and diseases, varmints love em

Several other species of fruit are possible candidates. I did not list things like strawberry which you may be interested in growing.

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Will Pecan actually bear this far north? I have some shagbark hickory seedlings I started this year, never thought pecan would be a viable option for me, though!

Welcome JimmyT!

There are several active PA members that I would suggest that you chat with.

American Persimmons are normally grafted in late spring when the leaves are about the size of “squirrels ears”. Commonly considered to be easy to grow. Like everything they can have problems, borers, psylids, 4 legged pests. Unless you have rootstocks from adult trees they are a bit fragile in getting started. They send down a long tap root which precludes transplanting after a few years of age. MMV.

Also you might consider chestnuts which should do well for you.

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Pecans that should mature for you include Warren 346, Lucas, and Campbell NC4. You may be able to grow Hark, and Oswego. If interested, Ernie Grimo has the first three. https://www.grimonut.com/

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For persimmon, plant the rootstock and let it get established. There is zero reason to rush it. For persimmon, you will not get fruit sooner by grafting sooner, in fact, likely the opposite. Scionwood grafted to a first year rootstock struggling to establish roots will behave accordingly (i.e., success rate will be lower and/or growth will be lower). Scionwood grafted to an established one year rootstock will respond better. Grafting to an established 2 year (in the ground) rootstock will take off even faster.

Here is an example. Rootstock in the ground for two years, and then grafted 4 years ago (edit: had to double check the date). Great growth and production. I graft once the rootstock is well established. If I see spindly growth, I wait another year because I want a rootstock that pushes growth through the graft. Grafts that don’t get enough growth are less likely to survive a bad winter. I try to graft at 30" (not where diameters match but at 30"). I have a lot of bad storms so I graft at a height where I can support the graft for a few years. I have a dog that likes to eat deer, so height above deer is not a concern for me… but a person could cage the trees otherwise.
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I’ve been trying to graft some persimmons as well. I’ve done hundreds of apples and pears and tried to do persimmons the same way but found out later that you need warmer temperatures. This is also true with Paw Paws. Just grafting in warmer temperatures, my success rate with Paw Paws went from 5% to 80%. I generally wait for 80 degrees. I would recommend that you get the persimmon root stock established first and then graft it later. As a novice to persimmons, my best success right now has been with Rosseyanka. I’ve had others take, but they didn’t winter over.

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Welcome JimmyT!

I am in Bloomsburg, PA and @Tunamelt is over towards Clearfield, PA.

Let me know when you need some persimmon scions. I have Miss Kim, Prok, and others.

I was thinking that waiting might be best. As impatient as the idea of waiting or year or two makes me, I will take your advice there. The tree looks great! Are you doing much pruning/training?

@ZombieFruit Howdy, neighbor! I’m located in Weedville. It’s nice to meet some locals! Thank you so much for offering the scionwood, I will definitely take you up on that when I’m ready for it!

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@Michael_Owens Thanks for the tips! I have a couple tiny Paw Paw seedlings going.(and hopefully some more to sprout, yet) Is there a huge benefit to grafting them? I’m aware that people do it, but not very well read on any individual varieties

Hi Jimmy T
Welcome to the best place to ask your questions, you’ve gotten some well placed advice already. I am not experienced with the types that do well in your part of the country regarding diseases, soil types and pests, but as a beginning grafter, you will find that there are numerous advantages of bench grafting of potted rootstocks over an in ground plant; you can place a potted plant in a location most comfortable to manipulate it during grafting, you can place it in the best location for graft callousing, once the graft takes you can place it in the best location for sun or shade depending on the graft progress. Once the graft is well established after a growing season you can then plan of its best site for the plant. For grafting beginners starting with varieties that are easy to get a take such as apples, pears, and plums can help you gain confidence in your skills as you learn what is necessary for a successful graft. Starting with types that are more challenging and often requiring special techniques such as grapes, figs, peaches and mulberry can frustrate you as they take so many failures to learn what works. I might also suggest you use the members map to search for members nearby in your region who can easily tell you what works well in your region and what to avoid.
Best wishes
Dennis
Kent, Wa

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@JimmyT

I haven’t done much training on persimmon and mostly let them do their thing. I will head them (or pinch the bud on the central leader) if they decide to grow a central leader too high (in good growing conditions, they can shoot up a central leader many feet in one season). I get bad storms that can lay over or snap small persimmon (they get big leaves and can be very top heavy especially when wet) until they get over 2" diameter or so, thus I want persimmon to get some diameter before getting too high. I tend to top them at 5’-7’ until they size up. Also, they can have a tendency to get competing leaders, and then are very prone to bark inclusion where a storm will break off the tree in that area. It doesn’t happen to all of them, but it’s something to watch out for, and prune to only one vertical leader.

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