Asian persimmons for zone 6b and 7a

This is a bit of a niche post for us but lately I've been doing a lot of thinking and researching on hardy Asian persimmons (Diospyros kaki) for our climate. Traditionally these persimmons are grown in a far more hospitable climate and are ideally suited to a zone 8 or higher climate. As a result, most of the fruit we see here on the East coast is flown in from California.

Still, we've grown a number of kaki persimmons here (Great Wall, Jiro, Saijo, Ichi ki kei jiro) and have heard of others growing them successfully in weather that approaches and dips below zero on a regular basis. In my research to find hardy cultivars I kept hearing of the Wye Research and Education Center (WREC) in Queenstown, Maryland as having a significant planting of Asian persimmons that dated back a number of years.

The climate of Wye is similar to ours, with a bit more of a coastal influence, so I was interested in seeing historical data on the survival of different cultivars. However in my searching I couldn't find any hard data except for a few scattered internet posts naming off a few cultivars. In the meantime I emailed someone at WREC to see if it might be possible to visit the center and see the planting for myself. What I heard back was that while WREC's persimmon planting wasn't in good shape anymore, a research bulletin was published a while back that contained a good many of the findings. My contact offered to send the bulletin via postal mail and, after I found the information extremely valuable, mentioned that I could make it available in digital form. I'm posting this document (Persimmons for Maryland - An Alternative Crop or Home Fruit) to help others in their search for hardy kaki persimmons. The information in the document is valuable as it tracks hardiness over a few decades. Click here or the image below for a PDF copy of the document.

Click through to the full PDF version of the document

Click through to the full PDF version of the document

Thanks to the University of Maryland and WREC for this invaluable information.

Kaki persimmons are delicious and we look forward to them being part of our orchard. We realize we may have to contend with some dieback in certain cold years but the fruit, we feel, is worth it. As a side note, our "Great Wall" persimmon has, as this document confirms, been perfectly hardy here, even after back-to-back really harsh -5F and -3F winters that got cold and stayed cold. It's also one of the cultivars that has really beautiful fall color as seen below.

Which cultivars did we ultimately choose? The verdict is still out as we're trialing some of the varieties here as well as some recent kaki crosses with our native persimmon. Still, based on this research it looks like there's room for both astringent and non-astringent persimmons in our planting. Check back with us to see more as we plan out our planting of persimmons in the next few years!

Beautiful fall color of 'Great Wall'

Beautiful fall color of 'Great Wall'

Bright orange persimmons hanging on to the tree late into the fall after the leaves are gone.

Bright orange persimmons hanging on to the tree late into the fall after the leaves are gone.

Family Life Church Mission Trip 2016

What a week! We can't help but smile thinking back on the week spent with the crew from Family Life Church at Cypress. Chris and Tori Pace, Family Life's pastor and his wife, led a hard-working crew of, at peak, 18 people through a week of projects on the farm last week. What did they get done? Tons!

I'll let the pictures do most of the talking but here are a few projects they completed during their time at our farm: clean out and fix up chicken coop, lay plastic for half of the new brambles, stake and trellis kiwis, install all fence braces, install half the new fencing, hang two fence gates, move boulders, weed and maintain the garden, fix up the nursery area, weed and move all potted plants, and harvest produce for New Hope Ministries.

Part of our mission statement is to serve our local community and donating produce to those in need has always been a dream of ours. After touring New Hope Ministries and learning about how they show the love of Jesus to people by meeting their physical needs, a bond was made! On two different days, the mission group got to serve at New Hope. We first harvested lettuce, kale, spinach and radishes - 22 pounds worth! Then we took it to the kitchen at New Hope, bagged everything in smaller bags, stocked the food pantry shelves, and then helped bag groceries for clients. It was such a full circle moment to see all of our hard work placed in the hands of people who needed a little extra help in a time of crisis. We can't wait for further partnership in the future!

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With all that was done and all that went on I'm sure I'm forgetting something so forgive me. Needless to say it was a lot! And all of this while cooking meals (and making loads of sweet tea!) for twenty-plus folks and keeping our house cleaner than it is with its normal six occupants.

We were so impressed by hard-working, polite kids and their parents who worked long days in weather ranging from 50s and rainy and chilly to 90s and quite warm. It was an experience we'll never forget and we really hated to see them go. They demonstrated their love of Christ by selflessly serving our little farm. We only hope we can have the same spirit in giving back a portion of what was given to us over the past week.

Kari and crew hard at work putting down plastic. This was certainly one of the most trying jobs and we appreciated all that was done.

Kari and crew hard at work putting down plastic. This was certainly one of the most trying jobs and we appreciated all that was done.

The fencing crew working on the back rocky stretch of fence. This one went through a rocky hill, between trees, and down a hill. Took us all day but it was worth it to see it done.

The fencing crew working on the back rocky stretch of fence. This one went through a rocky hill, between trees, and down a hill. Took us all day but it was worth it to see it done.

Many hands make light work. Moving and placing pots is a whole lot easier with a crew. Over the course of a couple evenings we got all of the pots placed and plugged in to irrigation.

Many hands make light work. Moving and placing pots is a whole lot easier with a crew. Over the course of a couple evenings we got all of the pots placed and plugged in to irrigation.

The garden looks better than ever. Tomatoes staked, beds weeded, old crops pulled and new ones sown.

The garden looks better than ever. Tomatoes staked, beds weeded, old crops pulled and new ones sown.

Looking across the mulched rows. Woven plastic will suppress weeds and allow the new planting to grow competition-free.

Looking across the mulched rows. Woven plastic will suppress weeds and allow the new planting to grow competition-free.

Looking down across a newly fenced area. Soon we'll let the goats loose here to clean it out.

Looking down across a newly fenced area. Soon we'll let the goats loose here to clean it out.

Newly trellised and staked kiwi vines look so neat and tidy.

Newly trellised and staked kiwi vines look so neat and tidy.