Which Pawpaw variety to start with? Which produces soonest?

HighlanderNorthApril 3, 2012

I have bought small Pawpaw seedlings before, but they were dead on arrival.

So I am looking to buy 2 plants, hopefully with some size to them.

I read the sites that now carry Peterson varieties, and one of them has a new rooting method called RPM(?) Anyone know anything about that? Its a patented process that supposedly guarantees thicker, healthier root system and better growing plants.

It seems that Susquehanna might be the best variety, but I also want one that produces fruit in the least number of years from the time I get it. But taste and fruit quality is important.

But also, I dont want tall growing ones. I'd prefer shorter, bushier plants. I guess I'll need at least 2 for pollination, but do they need to be different varieties?

How do they do in large pots for a couple/few years?

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Yes, you need at least two and different varieties (selectiosn) or seedlings.

You will have to prune a bit to get bush-like growth, but grafted plants tend to be half-way there anyway.

Besides Peterson's selections, "Mango" is large and very good.

I don't remember how many years they took.

The root systems of those specially rooted plants do look quite good in the nine I have seen, though I don't know about later growth yet.

I find pawpaws grow fine in larger pots for a few years EXCEPT for some apparent nutritional problems in artificial soils. I have gotten decent growth with mineral-rich compost (soil was layered with the organic materials to be compostedand then mixed, and the organic matter had a lot of kitchen waste and bones). I have gotten decent growth with a peat-perlite-vermiculite-based homemade soil and mainly organic fertilizer (composted manure or alfalfa). Mychorrhiza (sp?) added later seemed to help prevent problems but I am not positive as the trials were uncontrolled except against remembered bad experience.

The largest (I believe) Peterson pawpaw of his first release of three is excellent in eating.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 8:25AM
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Gonebananas, how tall do pawpaw planted in the open get in our area?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 10:30AM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

I bought a couple paw paws from Forrest Keeling. They are clearly not used to dealing with online retail customers, it was a convoluted adventure buying from them. You can see a picture of the roots at the link below. I'm not convinced this is the best system for paw paws, since it makes a root system quite different than what they would normally grow, but I would certainly recommend it over a field grown bare root specimen. It's a Susquehanna, and grew 6 or 7 inches last year. Forrest Keeling may not sell to you, depending on what state you live in. I had my order shipped to my brother in a different state, and he sent them to me.

At the time, they were the only option for potted Peterson paw paws. I would go with One Green World now that they sell them too. Easier to deal with, and they grow them in deeper pots than Forrest Keeling, more accommodating to the natural form of the paw paw root system, at least on young trees.

IMO, Susquehanna is the best tasting paw paw out of the 10 or so varieties I've tasted. Very rich flavor, very sweet, great texture.


Here is a link that might be useful: pictures of paw paw roots

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 11:39AM
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The oldest one I know about that was (1) planted and (2) is reasonably in the open is the larger (older) one at the butterfly garden near the old HQ building at Congaree National Park. Maybe 25 years old, maybe (if memory serves) 15 feet or so tall. I'll look sometime (it's off the normal visitor paths now). The one in the garden at Riverbanks Zoo is not quite as old or tall. I can't think of another intentionally planted one around here not of recent vintage, except I have an "Overleese" of maybe a decade or so old that soon will need trimming to keep out of a low-hanging electrical service line (maybe 12 feet up). It is partially shaded and of more upright growth, perhaps for that very reason. A "Mango" of similar age is out in full sun (to its stress and chagrin), is more sprawled, and is maybe 7-8 feet tall.

Dr. Desmond Layne at Clemson has an orchard, well maintained I'm sure, where age will be exactly known. You might email him. He's very busy but also both nice and helpful.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 11:45AM
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This winter I bought Peterson pawpaws from both One Green World and Forrest-Keeling. Both were as easy as can be to deal with and both sent very nice containerized plants, comparable in size. I also got Kentucky State U's "Atwood" from one of them.

I called F-K to order. Maybe that is the difference with the other poster's experience. Very helpful and no problems. Very professionally packed as well, with shipping boxes designed for these containers (or vice versa).

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 1:02PM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

Glad to hear your order with Forrest Keeling went well, hopefully they've ironed out the problems. The link below details my experience. It really seemed they weren't used to selling retail, and not everyone there was on the same page.


Here is a link that might be useful: my Forrest Keeling experience

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 4:11PM
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Look at the size of the open-growth tree in photo #6.
Peterson lives in VA, or WV, or MD I think, so the photo may be in that area. We have a few skinny pawpaw trees that tall in river bottomland forests but I've never seen one anywhere near that big around


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 4:18PM
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Hello everyone, firt post but have been lurking and researching for some time.

Im down to ordering from forrest keeling and OGW, I have talked to both and both will ship to me. I will actually drive by FK nursery this summer and may be able to pick up some of their large pawpaw trees in person.

but alexander3 just wondering how your pawpaws are doing now in the FKN vs OGW, and how you feel about the RPM roots vs the seedling taproot that the OGW pawpaws will have. personally I will probably have to keep them in pots for a year so im leaning to the RPM root system as I feel it would respond better to pots.

Also for some reason I have fell in love with this tree and will be spending alot on a fruit tree I have never tried before. So I am hoping they live up to my own hype for them. So what are the kinds to avoid as far as poor flavor? I also see Burnt Ridge has a few varities available.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 9:04PM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

I can't really make a direct comparison, since I got 'Mango' from One Green World maybe 5 years ago, and the 'Susquehanna' from FK I've only had for one growing season. Also, Mango has a reputation for growing fast, Susquehanna a reputation for growing slowly. The Mango looks great, is maybe 8 or 9 feet tall, and has a bunch of swelling flower buds for the first time. Last year it had one, but it fell off. The Susquehanna seems fine too, but is still a couple years away from fruiting. You may be right that the RPM roots would do better in a pot., at least you should be less likely to get a circling tap root at the bottom after one season.

As far as flavor goes, all the named varieties are at least pretty good, much better than the wild fruit I've had. I haven't heard of any to avoid. I have heard that just about any variety will sometimes make fruit with bitter aftertaste in a bad growing season.

Susquehanna has a rich paw paw flavor, Shenandoah is more mild. I think OGW also carries the recent Kentucky release 'Atwood'. I haven't had that one, but the reports from the KSU web site are that it's a mild flavor. They thought that would have broader appeal.

I also became fascinated with the paw paw before I ever had one. I'm glad I didn't wait to plant my own!


    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 12:07AM
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I also tracked down some pawpaws from Whitman Farms in Oregon. Lucille had 2 pawpaws a sunflower and a wells in "smart bags". It was an inground fabric pot that also air prunes roots. The wells was about 5ft and sunflower 3ft, both well branched. Also both producing buds this year. I have just had them a few weeks. My point is they are grafted on a non taproot stock and have been in the bag in the ground 2 years. They have to be 3-4 year old trees then.

But they both look like they may at least produce some fruit this year, so perhaps the RPM root pruning does accelerate growth and fruiting age.

Just food for thought

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 12:38AM
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bennylafleur(6 E. Tn.)

Highlander, the KSU website has information about their test plots, when the trees started bearing and the amount of fruit per each variety. If you can't find it, email me, I have some printed reports that I can summarize for you.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 8:05AM
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