While persimmons might be mainstays in Southern cuisine in sweet treats like persimmon pudding desserts, for the most part persimmon is a fairly underrepresented fruit tree. In general, ripe persimmon fruits burst very easily and so they aren't transported via commercial trade in large amounts. This rarity is the perfect reason you should go out of your way to grow some for you and your family as having a handy crop in your backyard garden is both convenient and sure to impress your dinner guests who haven’t tried one before.
Get to Know Persimmons
The first thing to know about your sweet delicious new crop is whether you have astringent or non-astringent persimmons. Ask the person who is selling you the trees what variety the plant is so can be certain. While most people choose to eat non-astringent persimmons right off the tree, fully ripe, the astringent ones are so bitter and full of tannins that they are usually harvested before ripeness and stored indoors until they are translucent and soft. Knowing your variety will help you understand the identifiers for ripeness, which will help you harvest quickly so that outdoor critters don’t end up gathering the fruits you most wanted to eat yourself!
Best Practices for Great Persimmon Yield
High producing varieties, like the Fuyu variety, will do best if you thin the fruits out, so definitely plan on noticing how many early fruits you have and thin any that look weaker or smaller than the majority.
Make sure your zone is likely to work well for persimmons. Each variety will be slightly different, though most varieties are hearty even up to Zone 7. While they do well with frosts, you don't want to plant a variety that is likely to do poorly in an unusually cold winter.
Great persimmon yields depend on a good balance of watering more than anything. Overwatering early on can drown a persimmon tree, but not watering enough once your tree is firmly established can reduce your yield. For optimum persimmons, be very prudent with water until the tree is established, then pay attention to how much rain is coming and water when you know the rainfall will be low.
Some of the great things about persimmons include the facts that they are fairly drought resistant, don’t need a very unusual soil pH, and are generally fine without fertilizing. Pruning down a bit can be a good idea, but once you’ve got a healthy harvest coming in each year, you can avoid pruning until you notice a drop off in fruit production. Despite the ease with which most people grow persimmons, there are a few small mistakes that can cost you your persimmon harvest.
Common Mistakes When Growing Persimmons
Location can be a major concern when growing persimmons keeping in mind how they need drainage and full sun. For instance, if the roots are going to be standing in water or if they will be overshadowed by other trees, your persimmons are unlikely to thrive.
Similarly, they need plenty of room to grow so don’t crowd your persimmons with other plants or multiple trees in a small area. Once you have given each a bit of room to grow, you can transition to planting in groups. In fact, cross-pollination between the plants will up your fruit production and make it easy to harvest all at once.
Another nice trait is that they require very little upkeep and a lot of soil amendments would necessitate constant additions. One exception is mulching. Through mulch’s tried-and-true methods of regulating root temperature and keeping the ground from going bone dry, you can care for your persimmon tree in a way that is sustainable in the long term.
After harvest is upon you in late fall, make sure you harvest with shallow dishes rather than big stacks since most persimmons are delicate enough to bruise or burst if too many layers are placed on top of them. One of the best ways to ensure that you actually enjoy your well earned fruits is to taste and feel a fully ripe persimmon from someone who has grown them before. By knowing when your persimmons are ripe, especially your astringent varieties, you are less likely to eat the unpleasantly, unripe ones that will make your mouth pucker.
With these techniques at hand, you’ll be able to carefully and patiently grow excellent persimmons while adding a beautiful fruit tree to your garden. Learning more about persimmon trees is a great way to expand your notions of what kinds of fruit work well in various climates and gives you great new options.