Saturday, November 06, 2021

GardenDC Podcast Episode 82: Persimmons and Other Unusual Fall Fruits with Stanton Gill

In this episode, we talk with Stanton Gill, Extension Specialist in IPM and Entomology with University of Maryland Extension, and co-owner of MacBride and Gill Falcon Ridge Fruit Orchard in Westminster, MD, about growing Persimmons and other unusual fall fruits in the Mid-Atlantic. The plant profile is on Cutting Lettuce and I share what's going on locally and in my garden.

EPISODE LENGTH: 56:54 00:45 Meet Stanton Gill! 01:55 “He spent all this time cutting those trees down” — Stanton, on his grandfather and not having a “green thumb” in his genes 03:10 In college, Stanton discovered his love for horticulture from a class — and his love for fruit-growing from seedless grapes 04:10 “Where most people have houseplants out on their little balcony, we had potted grape vines” — Stanton 04:48 The “Persimmon Guy” talks about being in the height of the persimmon season 07:21 When to pick persimmons: before or after they’ve fallen? 09:14 Different types of Asian persimmons 10:21 Flavor differences between native persimmons and Asian persimmons, like ‘Gwang Yang’ 11:18-14:47 “If anybody was the ‘Persimmon Man,’ it was Dr. Bill Preston” — Stanton, on his good friend and mentor - see Preston’s Orchards at 15:20 The Polar Vortex and Polar Express “killed” their persimmons trees — except for the hardy ‘Gwang Yang’ 17:20 Can persimmons cross-pollinate? 18:30-23:34 All about how to maintain persimmons trees throughout the year 23:50 How to keep wildlife from eating your persimmons 26:04 A “big deal this year” is the European Hornet 27:00 Foliar diseases and other issues 29:29 “I wouldn’t intermingle anything with a persimmon” — Stanton, on planting other plants around the root zone 31:00 Best ways to use persimmons as an ingredient — ever heard of persimmon ice cream? 33:53 Stanton talks about other fruits that are ripening now 34:02-38:56 “It looks like the human brain” — Stanton, on che fruit 37:26 “It’s going to take you six or seven years before it really comes into production” — Stanton, on the seedless variety of che fruit 38:57-44:32 Stanton talks about the unique, East Coast native beach plum, which makes a “wonderful jelly” 40:00 “They’ve eaten all the beach plums down to the ground” — Stanton, on the Assateague Island horses 44:40-46:41 Stanton talks about experimenting with cold-hardy citrus fruit 45:12 “I even have a lemon that came through the polar vortex at 8-below for three days in a row and survived” — Stanton 46:40 How climate change has impacted fruit tree growing 47:54 Digging trenches and covering with carpet are some ways to protect figs during extreme winters 48:35 Advanced Fruit Production course at Montgomery College taught by Stanton 49:15 To contact Stanton, you can visit them at farmer’s markets (information on their Facebook page) or through the University of Maryland Extension office 50:33 Learn about the “flat, ruffled, or curly” cutting lettuce in this week’s Plant Profile! 52:44 Garden update: Kathy talks about finally getting a frost in the DC area 53:40 Upcoming events: Silver Spring Garden Club Veteran’s Day Daffodil Planting, Fall Colors talk for Sandy Spring Museum Garden Club, and a Brookside Gardens talk by our very own insect columnist and past GardenDC podcast guest, Carol Allen

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Episode Credits
Host and Producer: Kathy Jentz
Interview Edits: Charlotte Crook
Notes: Melena DiNenna



  1. It's a misconception that persimmon ripeness is related to frost. If persimmon separates easily from calyx it is ripe. For many American persimmons this begins in September with frost 6+ weeks away. Conversely, you may find persimmons on tree in late Feb, firmly stuck to calyx and still extremely astringent. Antidote for astringent persimmon is ripe persimmon.

  2. In Fredericksburg VA, I've grown Saijo Hachiya, Giombo, Smith's Best, and the non-astringent Jiro and Ichi Ke Ki Jiro for over 10 years with no winter kill. Also Rosseyanka (Asian/Amer hybrid) and it's (75% Asian) offspring Nikita's Gift. By far my best persimmons are Yates and Prok, sold as American but fruit definitely seems Amer/Asian cross.

    1. Glad to hear the cultivars you mentioned have done well for you. Many of the cultivars, Oriental types, you mentioned can withstand temp as low as 1F. In 2014 we suffered through a polar vortex where temperatures , in central and western, Maryland, remained in -8 F range for 3 days. This killed just about all of the Oriental persimmons cultivars in many landscapes. The exception would be micro-environments in city areas where the temperature was modulated slightly. One of the Maryland nursery operations had 3 cultivars , including two you mentioned in your post, growing in nursery fields in Frederick, MD that were killed to the ground. Loss of over 225 trees. The understocks survived and put up sucker shoots from the root system over the next 2 years. The polar vortex heavily damaged the cultivar I mentioned, Gwang Yang in 2014. New growth was very slow to emerge in spring and did not show until mid-June. It took at least two years for these trees to fully recoup.
      Hopefully, your temperatures remain above 1 F and you trees continue to prosper.

  3. I've rarely had seeds in any of the above noted Asian persimmons, and I've got persimmons everywhere. All of the Americans have seeds, but Prok, Yates and Celebrity have the fewest. I also do not believe these American varieties need pollination as they bore fruit for me when I started growing persimmons on small suburban lot.

    1. Thank you, David, for contributing your valuable insights and experiences with growing persimmons. I will pass them on to Stanton as well.

    2. David
      Many persimmon trees are self-fertile and require no pollinator, however some varieties are not. While some native persimmons are self-fertile, generally a pollination partner will increase the size and quality of the harvest.

      Native persimmons are sometimes monoecious (both male and female flowers on plant) but most are dioecious (two house - separate male and females plants). You can determine which you have when the plants are in flower in spring looking for pistil (females flower) or ones with stamens - (male)


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