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January 2008
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A Persimmon is any of a number of species of trees of the genus Diospyros in the ebony wood family (Ebenaceae), and also refers to the edible fruit borne by them.
The United States grows comparatively few persimmons compared to the major producers, but virtually all of the domestic persimmon crop comes from California. The American persimmon always has to be used soft and is usually grown in the Midwest or the colder regions of the east coast. The Japanese varieties are all adapted to the milder coastal climates of the United States.
It’s important you know there are two kinds of persimmons: the Fuyu, the kind you can eat right away, and the Hachiya, the kind you can’t. If you bite into an unripe Hachiya persimmon, it is if you just drank six cups of extra strength tea. This astringent flavor is due to the high level of tannin in the fruit, and there is a good chance that you would never try a persimmon again because it tastes so bitter. This would be a shame because ripe persimmons have an exceptional flavor and provide us with important nutrients such as beta-carotene, Vitamin C and potassium.
Persimmon trees are a little more expensive than your average fruit tree because the propagation is expensive. Not only is the tree hard to bud, but the buds don’t always take, and sometimes less than 60 percent of the trees survive the digging. Persimmon trees are actually very adaptable to a wide range of soils, they’re disease- and pest-free, and basically drought tolerant after established.
Persimmons are great trees for the home gardener, and they’re easy to plant. First, dig a hole wider than it is deep. Then, choose a plant with nicely developed roots. The crown should sit a tad above the soil line to accommodate settling. Set the tree on top, and add enough dirt to fill the hole. Use mulch – Mulch helps to cut down on evaporation and also keeps the roots cooler in the summertime. They prefer a light, sandy, well-drained soil, but will grow in rich, southern, bottom lands.
For pruning Persimmons, simply prune limbs that are crossing and dangling. Structural cuts create strong branches to support lots of fruit. Moderate pruning can also help reduce the tree’s tendency to be alternate bearing or fruiting every other year. Persimmons are a fall crop primarily ripening in September all the way to the beginning of the next year.

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