[nafex] The heartbreak of grafted pawpaws

Mike Levine mlevine at umich.edu
Sun Nov 22 15:39:26 EST 2020


Sounds like your are mostly doing the right things.
Only 1-2 year old seedlings need shade.  If they are grafted they ready for
full sun, but want regular irrigation.  I find the best time to transplant
is after they have leafed out,  but before the leaves are full size.
What is your soil texture?  If it's very well drained maybe water more
often or more deeply?  They don't like to dry out too much
Have you checked your pH?  Some folks say it needs acidic soil,  but I
haven't had an issue with our alkaline soils.
I hope we can help figure out why they are dying.

Best,
Mike Levine
www.natureandnurtureseeds.com

On Sun, Nov 22, 2020, 2:42 PM DB <pogohome at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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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