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Encouraging wild paw paws to grow faster

 
Posts: 4
Location: Athens, Ohio
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Hello, I live in Southeast Ohio and we have a plethora of wild paw paw trees in our area. I've been to the Paw Paw festival many times (as it's just a 15 minute bus ride during the fesival) and would encourage anyone who likes paw paws to make the trek each year to enjoy Athens, Ohio culture and to celebrate the Paw Paw!

My question: I recently purchased a small plot of land behind our city house and as we hiked the property there are several dozen paw paw trees scattered throughout the property. They are quite small, maybe 3-7 feet tall and only produced a few small fruits this year which weren't very edible. I'd like to encourage them to grow faster and produce fruit quicker. There are a bunch of taller trees that I'm unwilling to cut down, but there are small maple, ash, and oak saplings that could be taken down around these trees to provide more sunlight. Should I consider doing that?

Also, are there ways to fertilize naturally, add soil amendments, or other things to be done to encourage paw paw growth and harvest?
 
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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My paw paw really started to thrive after getting more sunlight after it was established.

It also seems to really like the organic matter (mostly leaves and some sticks) added as mulch to break down into the soil, which should increase the water retention and nutrients in the soil.

Mine almost doubled in growth this year, hopefully it'll produce some tasty paw paws this coming year!
 
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Ricky,
The pawpaw is a true understory tree which means it is designed to start life in quite a bit of shade and it will be a slow grower for the first part of its life.
Pawpaw trees tend to be spindly looking in the wild since as they get older (from 3 to 4 years old) they start to reach for what sunlight they can find, which makes them grow long trunks to get the leaves up to the light.
Pawpaw trees are like most fruit trees and won't really start producing large quantities of fruits until they are nearing the 7 to 10 year window.

The best way to care for a pawpaw tree is to give it the same sorts of foods it finds in nature. That means compost and leaf mold should be the main items you use for soil amendment.
Pawpaw trees love to have mycorrhizae, so giving your tree's roots those fungi will go a long way to getting more fruit over the years.
Don't bother with normal tree fertilizers unless you already have good mycorrhizal growth around and in your trees roots, the tree won't benefit much from your expenditure of money for fertilizer.

Pawpaw trees are usually found near streams in a canopy forest (at least in Arkansas we don't see them unless there is a stream or lake or pond nearby), they are tall (30+ feet) and the bottom is usually just trunk since the forest canopy keeps the light from reaching the soil.

If you try to force the growth rate, or "push" it to fruit faster than it wants to, you could end up with a dead tree.
Pawpaw trees seem to have a type of internal clock that determines their time to maturity.
These are similar to the wild American persimmon tree, which won't grow well unless there is a lot of decaying wood around their roots.
Both have certain conditions that must be met both for growth and for fruiting. I actually killed one of our persimmons by removing the heap of punky wood it was growing out of.
I raked the punky wood back (to do some trunk repair) and didn't put it back in place, two weeks later the tree leaves were turning brown so I gave the tree a small amount of multipurpose fertilizer, the tree died within five months of my removing the detritus.
Fortunately we have around 7 persimmon trees growing and now that I know their preferred conditions for thriving, I keep adding to their decaying wood needs by using the wind dropped branches from the woods along with piling up wetted leaves around the drip line of each tree.

Redhawk
 
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Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:
The pawpaw is a true understory tree which means it is designed to start life in quite a bit of shade and it will be a slow grower for the first part of its life.
Pawpaw trees tend to be spindly looking in the wild since as they get older (from 3 to 4 years old) they start to reach for what sunlight they can find, which makes them grow long trunks to get the leaves up to the light.



I'm gambling on where I planted my three little pawpaw trees. These photos were taken today (mid-October), but in the summer the area gets filtered sunlight but the pines still shade the area somewhat. (It's hard to see the pawpaws, but they are to either side of the pavers; one in the middle, one to the left and to the right of the pavers.

The pines will eventually be taken down, and I'm hoping by the time we do that, the pawpaws will be ready for more sunlight. The trick, of course, will be getting the pines down without damaging the pawpaws. Because of our back fence, they'll probably have to be topped to fall away from the pawpaw area, then the snags either left or strategically felled. If it all works, I think I'll have a nice little pawpaw patch started with plenty of room for them to establish.

Pawpaw-20191023_125335.jpg
[Thumbnail for Pawpaw-20191023_125335.jpg]
Pine crescent area
Pawpaw-20191023_125448.jpg
[Thumbnail for Pawpaw-20191023_125448.jpg]
Pawpaws to either side of the paver
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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While it appears in the photos that the babies are in at least heavy dapple sunlight, you will want to watch closely in the spring for sun burn on the new leaves.
I made the mistake of planting in a spot that the one keystone tree was dropped by high wind and my baby pawpaw's got a terminal case of sunburn.
Now I tend to plant them in heavy shade only and I try to make sure one tree going down isn't going to let in much sunlight.

Redhawk
 
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