The future of “divine fruit” persimmon

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The word persimmon is originally from pessamin; an Algonquian language that the speakers locate from the east coast of North America to the Rocky Mountains, with the meaning “a dry fruit”. The scientific or Latin name of persimmon is Diospyros, the word originally from the ancient Greek with the meaning “fruit of the gods” or “divine fruit”. The persimmon tree grows in warm and dry climate, so the plant is relatively resistant against diseases and pests. The plant will be mature and start producing fruit after about 7 years from the seedlings. The experience of tasting good quality persimmon fruit is indomitable and unforgettable.

The North American people in Canada and the U.S.A. don’t really know persimmon fruit because the North American persimmon plants are mostly ornamental or decorational trees. Their fruits are categorized as astringent persimmons, which contain variable high levels of soluble tannins and are unpalatable if eaten before completely ripe and softened. Moreover, although the nutritional value of North American persimmons such as energy, carbohydrate, fat, protein, and minerals is on average about twice high as Oriental persimmons, the taste of North American persimmons are too acid with the vitamin C content more than 10 times higher and with lower sugar content compared to Oriental persimmons.

Most of the persimmon fruits found in grocery stores and smaller markets are Oriental persimmons. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT) 2013, the total production of persimmons in the world from 1993 – 2013 was 4.6 millions tons. The top-five world Oriental persimmon producers are China (2 millions tons), Republic of Korea (South Korea) (0.3 million ton), Japan (0.26 million ton), Brazil (0.12 million ton) and Azerbaijan (0.08 million ton). Recently, Spain, Israel, and New Zealand are increasing their persimmon fruits production and will be the leaders in export persimmon in the world. The Spanish persimmon variety Ribera del Xuquer, Israel persimmon variety Sharon, and New Zealand persimmon variety Fuyu are well known and all have a sweet taste and delicate flavour.

It seems that it will take sometime for the Oriental persimmon plants to be distributed and grown commercially in North America. The good news is that there is no need to get the genetically modified organisms for persimmon plants either by hybrid or tissue culture to increase the taste quality of persimmon fruits with less astringent and more nutritive values because many persimmon trees can be propagated asexually by grafting. By grafting method, the taste of the new generation of persimmon will be exactly the same as the parent plant that has been chosen.

Grafting is a propagation method that allows farmers to meld two trees into one new specimen by joining a root system of one tree, termed the rootstock, to a shoot system from another tree, termed the scion. For example, a farmer can select a rootstock from a hardy, tolerant or disease-resistant cultivar such as North American persimmon (e.g. Diospyros virginiana) and the scion from a persimmon cultivar with abundant and delicious fruit such as Oriental persimmon (e.g. Diospyros kaki). Generally, the preferred and popular persimmon fruits come from Diospyros kaki including astringent varieties such as Hachiya, with fruit that must be ripe to mushy before eating, and non-astringent varieties such as Fuyu, eaten as crisp as apples.

Persimmon is the national fruit of Japan and will be one of the natural spirits for Olympic 2020. Although Oriental persimmon is native to China, several improved cultivars or varieties have been developed in Japan like Fuyu and Hachiya, which fruits and seedlings can be seen in the first and second photos above. The photos can be zoomed to see the detail of the Oriental persimmon fruits and leaves.

The future of the persimmon fruit is very prosperous because humans can help and develop the plants by grafting to adapt with the new environment naturally and increase the quality. Persimmon fruits will surely contribute well as nutritious fresh and preserved fruits to the society significantly.

Please visit our website at http://www.burnabyredwigglers.com to learn more about the seedlings and propagation of persimmon plants and optimizing their growth using the high quality of worm castings or vermicompost available in your location. Actually, a good worm castings or vermicompost which content available nutrients, fulvic/humic acids, and plant growth regulators that diluted in water (termed vermicompost tea) will help the seedling and grafted plants to recover from stress and grow faster. There are 2 plausible mechanisms can be explained in supporting this result. First, the available nutrients in the vermicompost tea will support the growth of the root systems. Second, the fulvic/humic acids and the plant growth regulators will stimulate the growth of the new tissues connection in order to meld together the rootstock and the scion. Contact us if you need the Oriental persimmon seedling plants.

– Bintoro Gunadi

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