What causes Pawpaw to drop fruit

Hi,
Spring of 2020 our Prolific and Sunflower trees blossomed for the first time after they were purchased from Raintree nursery in 9” pots and planted during spring of 2017. We hand pollinated the flowers and both tree set fruit on several flowers. After about two weeks to ur surprise they dropped off. I could see no reason or cause. No unusual weather and the trees grew in a healthy manner all year. Does anyone have a clue as to what may have caused this to occur.
Dennis
Kent, wa

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Hi Dennis! I don’t have any first hand knowledge but I have read the trees may be too young to support the fruit at that age* and drop the fruit to protect themselves. I believe persimmons may do the same thing. It could also have been climate conditions if you had a drought or too much water or some other factor stressing the tree.

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I basically agree with @disc4tw - It’s not surprising to me that your fruit dropped in the very first year they flowered.
I had an even weirder behavior - i had flower buds actually drop off in late winter. These were the first buds the trees had set (over the summer, of course). I was so excited to see them flower in the spring but the buds fell off well before they even had a chance to open.
I just think it takes a year or so of “practice” for the fruit to hold.
It could also be that the pollination was not thorough - I believe that if the pollination is only partial the fruit will not be viable.
Lastly, one thing to keep in mind is what pawpaw folks call “June Drop”…even very mature trees will often drop many fruits in June to, as @disc4tw alluded to, protect themselves/conserve resources.

I’m sure you’ll have better luck this summer!

It seems to be a normal behavior for young pawpaw trees. Mine dropped all small fruits the first year they developed fruit (4th year in ground if I remember correctly), dropped most the second year they fruited and then happened a year without fruit because of severe late freezes. Last year was the first year I got a full crop on some of those trees. I still have some other pawpaw trees that didn’t fruit at all being planted the same time as the trees with a full crop. Those non fruiting trees are clearly behind in general development.

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Thanks fellows!
I appreciate your shared experiences as it gives me a renewed sense of hope! I had wondered if I may have a soil nutrition issue but since my trees seem very healthy and a re now approaching 5’ high, perhaps it’s just as you stated.
BTW do either of you have unique methods of pollination?
Thanks
Dennis

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good deal!

I assume you mean hand pollination? For that, no, I don’t do anything unique. I just use a tiny artist paint brush and dab it on a male-stage flower, make sure some pollen is collected, and then dab it on a female-stage/receptive flower.
That’s it!
The hardest thing about hand pollination, if I had to choose, is recognizing the receptive/female stage.

I haven’t tried any techniques to encourage natural pollinators. I’m not sure what my long term process will be as my 40-ish trees all come into maturity (God willing). I will probably do a little hand-pollinating every year anyway, at least for my favorite varieties, and then leave the rest to the bugs.

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