Che tree

bonsaist(Z6/ Bethlehem, Pa)September 22, 2009

Three years ago I planted a seedless Che that came from edible landscaping. Per the owner Mike mcConkie it doesn't reguire a male pollinator to set fruit. The tree is about 8 ft now and has lots of fruit but they drop off while they're pink and never develop.

Not sure if this is due to the tree being young or it needs the pollination.

I might end up getting a male and graft it unto it.

Anyone else has the same tree and got the same problem?

Bass

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austransplant(MD 7)

Bass,

I also have a two year old Che from Edible Landscaping. It set a few fruit in spring but dropped them a few months later. So I would suspect this is common. I was just down at Edible Landscaping's open house last weekend, and their mature Che tree is covered with fruit starting to ripen. Even not fully ripe the fruit was very tasty. My guess is that the Che just takes a while to get going.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2009 at 2:40PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Mine is in its 7th year and still dropping every year. I actually had a male at one point but someone thought it was a weed and chopped it down. My Che is from Hidden Springs.

Scott

    Bookmark   September 22, 2009 at 4:14PM
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chills71(Zone 6b Mi)

got one here that's in I think its fourth year. Up until this year I was highly underwhelmed at its progress. It grew centimeters for the first few years. This year it finally took off, pushing 5-6 feet of new growth. Still no fruit (or even signs of flowering). I'm actually just glad to see it finally do something.

Mine is from Edible Landscaping and started off as a 1-gal plant.

~Chills

    Bookmark   September 23, 2009 at 5:09PM
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fruithack

Bonsaist- my story is identical to yours, 3 years, fruit yellowing and dropping, etc. I assumed it was due to the immaturity of the tree. Guess I'll wait another year to find out.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2009 at 6:30PM
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austransplant(MD 7)

It is worth noting that Che is generally not viewed as self-fertile; two plants are needed. For some reason the plant sold by Edible Landscaping is claimed to be self-fertile. Certainly it was covered in fruit when I saw it and there was no other Che tree around. The fact that Scott's is not from Edible Landscaping would explain why in the absence of another plant it has set no fruit.

My plant grew very slowly the first year, but in this, its second year, put on about 4 feet of growth.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2009 at 7:16PM
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lucky_p

It's been my impression, from several folks I know who've grown Che - in east TN and west-central IN, among other places - that females will set parthenocarpic fruits - and none of these folks got theirs from EL. No need for a male pollenizer. Once the trees gain a little age/size, they set and mature good crops of fruit with or without a male. Not at all uncommon for those just reaching bearing age to drop immature fruits for a couple of years before they settle in.

A couple of weeks back, I received photos of one I grafted onto M.pomifera rootstock and sent to a friend in central KY (her name is Che) several years ago - it's loaded with fruit; no others within miles(or maybe even within several counties)of it - and my original scions came from our GW friend gonebananas, if I recall correctly.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 12:02AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I have also heard similar reports indicating there is nothing special about the EL Che, its just the marketing is different. My tree is still not that big, it had several setbacks over the years including getting chopped along with the male (but, it came back). Still, I wish I still had the male so I could try the fruit already. If its not fruited in a few more years I will start looking for a male.

Scott

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 8:43AM
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lucky_p

Here's a missive on Che, from my friend Richard, who was in extreme NE TN at the time, back in 1999:
"We have had Che fruit in for 7 years. Put in both a male and female plant. Survived 14 below several winters ago. Blooms after frost; has not frozen out in five or so years (am away from my notes), unlike our mulberry. No observed disease or insect problems. Birds are a problem, have netted the female. Disease and insect resistance similar here to mulberry and fig, which are in same family (Moraceae).

Pollination is the adventure with this plant:
The male sets fruit but most of these fall off; a few of them will ripen and be identical to female fruit. Male died to ground two winters ago; the female still set a full crop of seedless fruit. The male grew back last year, bloomed this year and acted like a female by setting the largest crop of ripening fruit yet. (It may be in the process of some type of conversion; time will tell.) Some debate has gone on for the need of a male pollinator. I'm not sure that I had any less fruit without the male two years ago. Our plants are on the far side of the field and hence do not merit close observation; my kids eat most of the fruit with the birds.

Both our plants are grafted onto Osage Orange. Hence, if you know how Osage Orange does on yours or similar land, this should suffice for your site. A.J. Bullard let a single stem go up to 8-9 ft, and cuts all others off, he has a nice form as the result. A number of our limbs on our bush are on the ground.

Hidden Springs grafts theirs onto Osage Orange if I recall correctly; they do not grow seedling trees of Che. If you mean they graft an unnamed "seedling", they then are no different from any other nursery, to my knowledge. Don't know of anyone who has selected and named superior cultivars from the wild (somewhere in China?) My impression of the one nursery that sells a seedless selection is that this if merely a female. My sample size is too small to determine the value of two for pollination vs. one female.

We are at 1800' zone 6, we rarely get into the 90s; we are on the borderline for enough heat to ripen Che fruit. In a cool summer, defoliation in fall will occur before last of fruit is ripe.

Ripe fruit has a strawberry color, knotty exterior like Osage Orange, tastes a bit like pear and fig to us; sweet but not overly so. Strange in that slightly unripe fruit leaves a metallic taste in my mouth.

In summary, an overlooked minor fruit. Well worth the effort to put in as a carefree, dependable producer in our area. The Blacks at Hidden Springs have made a jam with them. Lee Reich plans to include a chapter on this plant in his second edition of 'Uncommon Fruits Worthy of Attention'"

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 11:20AM
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swvirginiadave(z6 VA)

Bass,

I've had a Che also from E.L. for probably 10 years. When it did finally begin to fruit, it did just as you describe; the pink, hard fruits fell off in late August or early September without ripening. This happened for about 3 years. In 2007 they began to ripen for the first time, did so again last year, and are ripening again this year. They swell, turn dark red and soften, then begin showing black spots. They begin to ripen about now and into October. The first freeze essentially ends the season as any unripe ones are ruined by the freeze. In my case that has meant half or more of the fruit set won't make it in time. My family seems to like the taste OK, but they're not as good as their cousins, the mulberries, in my opinion. They're a bit chewy. Different anyway.

Dave

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 5:10PM
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bonsaist(Z6/ Bethlehem, Pa)

thanks for sharing your experiences. What I will probably do is graft a male scionwood into my tree so I don't have to wait too long for fruit. I haven't had a ripe one to tell if I'm gonna like it or not.
I was able to root cuttings easily of the Che. I don't see the need to graft them into on osage orange unless it's only to eliminate suckers.

Bass

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 7:16AM
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lucky_p

Bass,
I've not seen Che on its own roots - but gonebananas has, and he indicated to me that it suckers like crazy and that the suckers are especially thorny.
Will it perform the same in PA as it did in LA/MS? I dunno.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 10:08AM
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