long, hot Texas summer begins to wane, a delicious fruit
is just about to ripen. The Japanese persimmon is a
fruit that is a delectable treat enjoyed by all people
as the fall season begins. The Japanese persimmon,
sometimes called a fruit of the Gods, is an easy to grow
fruit tree that yields an abundance of high quality
fruit annually. The persimmon originated in China, but
the Japanese cultivate it by the name of kaki. By cross
breeding and excellent selection, they have released
many cultivars of excellent quality. Previously, only
California grew persimmons commercially, but experience
shows that they are well adapted to the Texas climate
and produce excellent yields of high quality fruit.
are adapted to a wide range of soil types, but perform
exceptionally well on deep, sandy loam. Like most fruit
trees, they prefer a soil that is alkaline with a pH of
6.5. Individuals should plant Japanese persimmons in an
area that receives full sun. Although they appear to
tolerate damp soils, and there should be good drainage
with no standing water. Growers need to provide adequate
moisture or irrigation during the first two months of
bloom to promote good fruit set.
Those who want
to plant several Japanese persimmons should space each
tree approximately twenty feet apart. In Japan, there
has been intensive planting of these trees, but growers
thin them out within five years. Japanese persimmons
need proper spacing for good growth, adequate sunlight,
and excellent fruit set. Grafted trees normally reach a
height of fifteen to twenty feet.
persimmon tree and fruit has a high immunity to most
diseases, and many people grow them successfully with
organic methods. Good orchard management is the key to
preventing many diseases. Occasionally, some trees will
develop a black leaf spot depending on the variety.
Although some writers list anthracnose and bitter rot as
a possible source of disease problem, it does not appear
to be a significant difficulty among growers.
The best rootstock for Japanese
persimmons in Texas is Diospyros virginiana.
Growers should supply compost around the drip line of
each tree, and prune them on a regular basis during the
dormant season. Most Japanese persimmon varieties do not
form a canopy, but have more of an upright growth.
One of the advantages of growing the Japanese
persimmon is that it breaks dormancy late in the spring
and usually misses frost and freezing weather. In the
northeast Houston area, leaf emergence and shoot growth
appear at the beginning of April. After two weeks,
flowers appear and the process of pollination begins.
Most Japanese persimmons are self-fertile and require no
pollinator. Once the fruit forms, it develops during the
entire summer and begins to ripen approximately
harvest Japanese persimmons when the fruit is well
developed and the color has changed from green to an
orange/red shade. Certain varieties need to ripen
further because they are too astringent for consumption.
Other varieties such as Fuyu are non-astringent and
ready to eat immediately. The best method of harvesting
the fruit is to clip the stem with small scissors, and
leave the calyx attached to it. If the fruit completely
ripens on the tree, it requires careful handling because
it becomes soft and fragile. The non-astringent
varieties have a shelf life from ten to thirty days, but
the astringent cultivars have a seven to ten day shelf
Japanese persimmon growers have several
options available to keep their fruit after harvest.
They can dry their fruit and store it for winter
consumption. In addition, it is possible to freeze many
persimmon varieties, and they continue to retain good
fruit quality after thawing. Furthermore, there are
several recipes for making jam and jelly using persimmon
fruit. All of these options make growing persimmons a
year round treat.
Some of the
top quality astringent Japanese persimmons for fresh
eating are Saijo, Giombo, Hachiya and Hira-Tanenashi.
The recommended non-astringent varieties include Fuyu,
Hana-Gosho, and Jiro. Local nurseries sometimes sell
these varieties. The nurseries listed below also offer
several Japanese persimmon varieties.
Womack Nursery Co.
DeLeon, TX 76444
361 Spirit Ridge Lane
Crawfordville, FL 32327