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Can I prune a persimmon tree for height without killing it?

 
Posts: 104
Location: Hopkinsville, KY (Western KY) Zone 7
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Hello, all. I recently purchased a new place that comes with woods and is perfect for foraging. I was very glad to find persimmons (western Kentucky, zone 6-7) and although I had never had them before, I knew I'd love them. I was right.

The issue, however, is that I can only collect them after they've fallen. They were in a tall canopied woods and are now about twenty feet tall. The lowest branches are maybe fifteen feet high (I might be UNDERestimating the height).

So my question is this: right before spring kicks in, would I be able to cut the trees, say at five feet, so that way reachable branches can grow? Or would this kill the tree?

Thanks in advance.
 
pollinator
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I wouldn't risk it. Spread a tarp over somr leaves to give falling persimmons a soft place to land. If you pick them off the tree they are astringent enough to give you puckerface. Only the fallen ones are tasty.
 
gardener
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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I have wondered this myself.  Young trees have an astonishing ability to survive being brushhogged, resprouting from the stumps endlessly.  But I'm not certain about older ones.  I have a male (not fruit-bearing) tree that I've been meaning to try the experiment on, but I haven't had the heart to do it.

Meanwhile, however, there's a lot of variation from tree to tree in exactly how soft the fruit is when it's ripe enough to fall, but most fruit will survive the fall without bursting.  And you don't precisely have to wait for it to fall naturally.  Except on the very largest trees, you can usually shake the tree with your body enough to dislodge the ripest fruit, so that it falls for you to pick up while you are there and ready (instead of trying to beat the raccoons and deer and coyotes to it).  

Sadly I do have one set of trees growing in deep canopy forest where the fruiting branches are thirty feet up and more, and the fruit is larger than usual (the size of good sized apricots) and softer than usual.  These are my best-tasting persimmons but they *splat* like a chicken egg with no shell when they hit the ground.  One of my long term to-do list entries is to clear out the forest floor (challenging, there's a ton of fallen snags and brambles and other large trees) so that I can plant a bed of mowable soft clover and have room to string some fruit-catching hammocks.  

Edit: OK, now I'm laughing.  Turns out I asked a version of this same question four years ago and nobody knew then, either.  Guess I should have done the experiment!
 
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You could also think about planting some persimmon trees and just keeping them under control from the beginning with pruning. Since you're in zone 7 you should be able to get away with asian varieties too, I think.
 
pollinator
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You might sacrifice one for an experiment if you have plenty others.
 
Jon La Foy
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Location: Hopkinsville, KY (Western KY) Zone 7
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Dan Boone wrote:I have wondered this myself.  Young trees have an astonishing ability to survive being brushhogged, resprouting from the stumps endlessly.  But I'm not certain about older ones.  I have a male (not fruit-bearing) tree that I've been meaning to try the experiment on, but I haven't had the heart to do it.

Meanwhile, however, there's a lot of variation from tree to tree in exactly how soft the fruit is when it's ripe enough to fall, but most fruit will survive the fall without bursting.  And you don't precisely have to wait for it to fall naturally.  Except on the very largest trees, you can usually shake the tree with your body enough to dislodge the ripest fruit, so that it falls for you to pick up while you are there and ready (instead of trying to beat the raccoons and deer and coyotes to it).  

Sadly I do have one set of trees growing in deep canopy forest where the fruiting branches are thirty feet up and more, and the fruit is larger than usual (the size of good sized apricots) and softer than usual.  These are my best-tasting persimmons but they *splat* like a chicken egg with no shell when they hit the ground.  One of my long term to-do list entries is to clear out the forest floor (challenging, there's a ton of fallen snags and brambles and other large trees) so that I can plant a bed of mowable soft clover and have room to string some fruit-catching hammocks.  

Edit: OK, now I'm laughing.  Turns out I asked a version of this same question four years ago and nobody knew then, either.  Guess I should have done the experiment!



Dan, seems like you and I have similar issues. My place was logged a few years back and the underbrush is crazy thick and full of ever thorned plant known to man. The difficulty of clearing it out is an understatement, but I really want those persimmons.

I read your other post from four years, it seems like there wasn't much feedback then, either. I might take some advice here and test one out.
 
Jon La Foy
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James Landreth wrote:You could also think about planting some persimmon trees and just keeping them under control from the beginning with pruning. Since you're in zone 7 you should be able to get away with asian varieties too, I think.



I definitely plan on doing that. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what happened to my seeds from last year, so it'll be next year I can grow them.
 
Jon La Foy
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Ken W Wilson wrote:You might sacrifice one for an experiment if you have plenty others.



I'm thinking this is what I'll do. I know I have four, possibly a fifth. I'm willing to be I have more, I just need to find them.
 
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Persimmon is very resilient and will put out new branches from trunk buds quite readily when they are youngish, older trees with thicker bark will still put out new trunk buds but it takes them about two weeks longer to get those first leaves going.
Be sure to cut at a rather steep angle and do use some white Elmer's glue to seal the cut all the way out to the outer bark, this will keep beetles from getting into the cambium layer.

Redhawk
 
Dan Boone
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Jon La Foy wrote:Unfortunately, I'm not sure what happened to my seeds from last year, so it'll be next year I can grow them.



If you'll PM me your address and a reminder that it's about persimmon seeds, I'll be happy to send you a small handful. I've got an old milk bottle by my computer where I spit out the seeds from my dried persimmon snacks.  These are from a heavy harvest three or four years ago so I'm not sure what germination you'll get but if you give them a cold moist stratification I think you should be able to wake them up.  

 
Jon La Foy
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Persimmon is very resilient and will put out new branches from trunk buds quite readily when they are youngish, older trees with thicker bark will still put out new trunk buds but it takes them about two weeks longer to get those first leaves going.
Be sure to cut at a rather steep angle and do use some white Elmer's glue to seal the cut all the way out to the outer bark, this will keep beetles from getting into the cambium layer.

Redhawk



Will do. Thanks for the instructions. Just curious: what's the need for cutting at an extreme angle?
 
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