[nafex] The heartbreak of grafted pawpaws

DB pogohome at gmail.com
Sun Nov 22 14:41:52 EST 2020

Two possibilities.  Boulders or high water.  I have both.   I have two
spots where water will raise to the top and stay for weeks or months.  I
now plant raised mounds.

On Sun, Nov 22, 2020, 1:33 PM Elizabeth Hilborn <ehilborn at mebtel.net> wrote:

> I planted my first pawpaws in 2009, I ordered the superior Peterson
> pawpaw varieties directly from Neil himself. One of four survived - a
> Shenandoah that was vigorous until 2015, then visibly declined. I
> removed the dead tree this summer. My working hypothesis was that the
> tree suffered a pruning injury back in 2013 or 2014 that became infected
> with fungus. That Shenandoah was an outlier, but it is the only grafted
> tree that has ever successfully matured fruit for me. It showed me how
> delicious selected pawpaws can be.
> Every other grafted pawpaw I have planted (about 16 of them) has died
> but for two five-year-old (at site) trees that are still less than 16
> inches high.
> The typical scenario is that the plant will sit for a few years in my
> artificially shaded site as it becomes established. Then in its third or
> fourth year at site it starts rapid growth. Within a year to three years
> of putting on height, it flowers, maybe begins to set fruit (they do not
> always get this old) then midsummer, the leaves suddenly wilt and the
> tree dies within a few months. Post mortems reveal seemingly healthy
> roots, no trunk lesions, no discoloration of cambium.  No clue.
> The kicker is that I have healthy seedlings all over the place. Some
> seedlings are seven years old, volunteers in the woods where I tossed
> overripe fruit. Some were planted intentionally. The rootstock sprouts
> well if I leave it and seems healthy. Rootstock has started producing
> fruit (not very good fruit). I have divided rootstock from dead grafted
> trees to start new patches with the hope of later grafting. I have not
> seen remaining rootstock, divided rootstock or seedlings die like the
> grafted varieties.
> How I care for them:
> I water attentively for a couple years after planting, then only when
> weather is unusually dry. I shade the young grafted trees for two -
> three years at site. I only plant trees in spring. I have tried planting
> at ground level and recently higher in mounds to discourage root rot (no
> indication of root rot, just varying procedures).
> I plant with no amendments in soil, but top with compost around the
> site. The trunks are not smothered.
> This year, I transferred soil from a native pawpaw patch in the woods to
> the struggling small grafted trees in the hope they would get something
> they needed. They still are struggling. I will see next year.
> Any ideas? Has anyone else dealt with this?
> Pawpawless in central NC zone 7a
> Elizabeth
> --
> Elizabeth Hilborn, DVM
> Bee Well Mobile Veterinary Services, PLLC
> beewellvet.com
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