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Old 12-31-2009, 04:46 PM   #1
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Default Paw Paw Pollination

I'm hearing conflicting sources on the pollination. Some places say Buy Two trees (they only sell one variety) while others say Buy Two Varieties (when they sell about three varieties).

Does anyone know if I need multiple varieties of these trees to get them to fruit?
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Old 12-31-2009, 05:17 PM   #2
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Kentucky's ag department says
If fruit production is desired, purchase at least two genetically different trees (i.e. two different cultivars, or at least two seedlings), to ensure that cross pollination can occur.
KYSU Pawpaw Planting Guide
My yarden and I lean a little to the wild side.
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Old 01-09-2010, 12:33 AM   #3
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The KY Ag site covered the basics good enough but it would have been nice if they went into a little more detail. I'm pretty sure Asiminia is a host for the Zebra Swallowtail and they did mention that. Problem #1, Flowers of Asiminia are perfect but... they're not self-pollinating. Problem #2, They're self-incompatible requiring pollination from a genetically distinct plant. So... you'll need to buy two but... they'll need to be genetically different so that knocks out buying two of the same variety because those would be clones. Buying 2 or 3 seedlings would work. Couple tricks with pawpaws not mentioned at the KY Ag site that I know from growing them. In the wild they're normally an understory species. Seedlings can't handle full sun yet this species needs full sun to fruit best. The trick to growing seedlings is to protect them with shadecloth for two or three years or plant them under shrubs in your yard. Shadecloth can be removed once they're established and seedlings will grow up and through any shrubs they're planted underneath. That solves the problem of too much sun when they're just starting out and not enough after they're established. Something not mentioned... bees are not a natural pollinator of this species. The pawpaw predates bees on the evolutionary timescale... that's why their flowers are the color of meat and smell like rotting flesh so next trick to these is getting them pollinated. Every site you're going to run into is going to tell you to use a paint brush and hand pollinate them. Oh bother. You don't need to do that. Take your left over chicken fat and skin trimmings and toss them in the trees when you start seeing blooms. You can toss any raw meat up in the trees too. Start slinging it up there any which way you want. This brings in the carrion beetles and flies that will do your pollination work for you. Sometimes it brings in opossums too which isn't a bad thing... I like opossums. Another little thing to mention... the fruits are heavy. Get a bumper crop and limbs will break on your tree. If you see too many fruits developing, don't be afraid to thin them out. I found this for you that might be fun too but I've never tried it,
"Pollination – doing what comes un-naturally
In spring the trees bloom with two-inch wide dark maroon flowers. Native pawpaws are shy bearing because bees don’t pollinate them. Corwin Davis in Michigan watched his flowering trees day and night to find out how they were pollinated, and found that green bottle flies were the main pollinators. These flies are called “carrion flies” and he had to hang spoiled meat in the trees to attract them. (Of course this could attract buzzards, too.) Fortunately a man in Kansas used a different approach. He collected pawpaw pollen from several trees, mixed honey with it, and put a little dab of the mixture on pawpaw blossoms. Bees in the area discovered them and pollinated the trees like crazy, which gave him a fantastic crop. He’d bribed the bees to work trees they wouldn’t touch ordinarily."
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Old 01-09-2010, 08:38 AM   #4
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Excellent information, Equilibrium! The PawPaw is on my wish list, and I can see that I will need to have some shade first (in other words, wait a bit until my tree saplings become strapping "teenagers," at least). I may have to throw a few more fast-growing loblolly pines into the mix. Thanks very much for your comments (and thanks, too, MrILoveTheAnts, for raising the question--information that I have come across is less than clear about it).
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:25 PM   #5
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Bee bribery. Good addition.
The tendency of man's nature to good is like the tendency of water to flow downwards.
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Old 01-19-2010, 09:26 PM   #6
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Bee bribery
Dare you to say that three times!
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