[nafex] Global pawpaw expert bring his fruits to Kearneysville [The (Martinsburg, W. Va.) Journal]

Charles Rhora rhoras at nuttrees.com
Mon Apr 29 23:47:23 EDT 2013

Thank you for the very impressive write up.  I fully agree with the
promotion of this exquisite fruit and it's many uses, not only for the
commercial potential, but its use for medicinal purposes. 

I am located in Ontario, Canada, climatic zone 4, and have promoted their
expansion in many aspects.  Having several acres to selected varieties (My
selections from working with these for more than 30 years with cross
pollination to obtain the best types for our climatic zone).
We now have commercial planting in excess of 15 acres.  The fruit produced
range in average weight from 6 ounces, up to 10 ounces in size.

Most trees, in production, are producing up to 20 to 30 pounds of fruit
which is sold to Restaurants, fetching up to $10.00 per pound, with the
purchaser receiving the fruit, and processing it, and returning the seed to
the buyer.  They keep it fresh, by freezing the pulp. It is widely known for
its nutrition value, and is served as deserts, etc. to their customers.

As a member of the California Rare Fruit Growers, back in 1974 they
published "California Rare Fruit Yearbook" Volume 6 (340 pages) solely
devoted to Asimina Triloba which I have in my possession and gives a
complete history up to that date, which I use quite frequently, in my
experimental work.

I have attached a picture, showing the fruiting habit of this tree.

Charles Rhora

Member of Nafex, Northern Nut Growers Association, Society of Ontario Nut
Growers, and membership in several overseas plant breeding association.

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Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 12:31 PM
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Subject: [nafex] Global pawpaw expert bring his fruits to Kearneysville [The
(Martinsburg, W. Va.) Journal]


Global pawpaw expert brings his fruits to Kearneysville April 27, 2013 By
Michelle Horst (mhorst at journal-news.net<mailto:mhorst at journal-news.net>) ,
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KEARNEYSVILLE - Neal Peterson stood overlooking the volunteers planting some
50 dozen small pawpaw trees. Some still in pots, all grouped by families,
the tiny trees were the creation of his own hands and many years of

Peterson, a global expert on the pawpaw fruit, began his research in the
1980s by looking through antique collections dating back to the early 1920s.
The best material of his results was shared with 11 different universities,
and the work continues today.

"I was evaluating quality, flavor, color - anything that could someday be in
a grocery store," Peterson said.

Article Photos

Journal photo by Michelle Horst

Volunteers spent Thursday planting 600 pawpaw trees at the Kearneysville
Tree Fruit Research and Education Center.

The pawpaw native to the Eastern Panhandle grows on trees ranging from 20 to
30 feet in height. The variety varies in different areas - pawpaws in
Florida grow on small shrubs only 3 feet tall.

By hand-pollinating a mixture of different mother and father plants,
Peterson used hybridization to create his own trees, growing between 8 and
10 feet tall, and named the varieties for local places such as the Potomac,
Shenandoah and Susquehanna.

Pawpaws native to the Eastern Panhandle can be found growing along the
Potomac River and the C&O Canal. The leaves are simple and oblong with
smooth edges. The fruit varies in size, depending on the number of seeds
inside - it can be anywhere from a hen's egg to the size of a large mango.
The taste is similar to a banana or mango.

Some believe this fruit could revolutionize the orchard industry in the
Eastern Panhandle, which has been dwindling since the apple industry began
shrinking in the 1990s.

According to Dr. Alan Biggs of West Virginia University's Kearneysville Tree
Fruit Research and Education Center, the dropoff in the apple industry was
caused by low processed apple prices and fruit juice coming from China.

"West Virginia is ranked anywhere from 6 to 12 in the nation for apple
production, and this station has been a big part of that," Biggs said.

Through communication with Peterson over several years, Biggs was able to
bring the Peterson Pawpaw Project to the research center as an experimental

Volunteers spent Thursday in the dirt, planting six long rows, each of 100
small pawpaw trees, over more than one-quarter of an acre.

Andy Moore, of Pittsburgh, Pa., was one of the volunteers helping to plant
the trees. He is in the midst of writing a book on the history of the pawpaw
fruit, and has conducted several interviews with Peterson for his research.

"It's a mystery to me why folks don't know about (the pawpaw)," Moore said.
"It can be found in the woods anywhere in this part of the country. It's
this unknown thing, although it surrounds us."

"Also, it tastes really good," he said.

The small orchard in Kearneysville serves as an experiment for future uses.
Peterson said, for example, Ocean Spray had expressed interest, after
tasting some of his samples, in doing laboratory experiments with the pawpaw
and other juice blends - the company requested a ton of pawpaws to do

"Well, you have to already have some orchards going for that," Peterson
said, adding that dealings with Ocean Spray will be down the road.

The trees planted Thursday were between one and two years old, but like
everything, Peterson said, the pawpaws have to start somewhere.

"There was a time in the Eastern Panhandle when the first apple orchard went
in, shortly after the Civil War, then it became a thriving apple industry.
This is experimental, because, unlike the apple, pawpaw is very little
known," Peterson said.

- Staff writer Michelle Horst can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 138, or
(c) Copyright 2013 journal-news.net. All rights reserved. This material may
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