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Moving pawpaws north....

 
John Weiland
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This may have been brought up before but was wondering of any successes in moving Paw Paw's farther north.  The attachments below attest to the generally considered range, but there is the Canadian (QC) example as well.  If it is too difficult to get nursery stock from Canada into the U.S., is there a backyard or otherwise breeding program with stock of hardy paw paw being offered that might not croak in northern Minnesota.  One other web reference suggested a few trees around Minneapolis could be babied to give fruit, but that's all I could find.  Thanks.
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Russell Olson
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I love testing and pushing boundries of different plants, and have had some preliminary success.
I have a paw paw I got from Jung Seed in 2011 in a set of two that is thriving north of Stillwater MN. Not northern Mn, but outside and north of the cities.
The grafted NC-1 died after one winter, this seedling was to be the pollinator and made it through even the 2013 winter from hell.
Growth was very slow, only a small 3'' branch for the first few years, but then 6'' or so.
This spring we had a hard freeze 20 degrees in early may, lots of my zone pushed trees and plants got fresh growth nipped back including the paw paw, but it has recovered and I believe it has finally had it's big "leap" in growth as in with new trees they sleep, creep, and then leap.
It's now 6' tall and putting growth on still. I anticipate I'm not too far from flowers, though I need to find a pollinator somehow. I will be hoping to find a larger transplant or at least a hardy match for mine I can wait on. I've even considered seeing if I can get pollen from another source and hand pollinate for a few years until I can make seedlings that might have similar cold hardy genetics. This will be a point of emphasis for my winter orders.
I'd try Oikos tree crops as a source, they seem to specialize in this type of thing, though I think they exist in a zone 5/6 area.
If you find a source or even another tree in the north please share your findings.
 
John Weiland
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Thanks for this response, Russell, this is encouraging.  At this point I'm quite intrigued with the efforts at Green Barn Farm in Canada noted above.  From their website:

"US Orders
If you are located in the United States and would like to place an order, please complete this form and we will contact you to inquire which products you would like to order and the respective quantities for each products, and we will prepare the order and make payment arrangements with you via credit card.  You may also call us to place an order at  +1 (514)  951-9757 and we would be happy to take your order over the phone."

I may be willing to take a chance on this and would just wait to see if others weigh in on getting nursery stock across the border.....is there anything that might happen coming through customs, or the delays that might occur, that would make receiving healthy stock a challenge.  But I'm glad to hear that there are thriving Paw Paws around Stillwater (...I spent many weekends in my youth paddling on the St. Croix river around Taylor's Falls).  I will keep this thread abreast of any additional findings.

 
Russell Olson
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I've seen the green barn products before and thought of trying it out, though the price and the potential for border issues makes it something i'd be careful of.
I thought you need a certificate of some kind to bring live plants over the border.

I am going to make some actual calls(i'm an online kind of guy) this winter to several nurseries inquiring on their paw paws, possibly even Jung seed again since whatever their seedling genetics are seem to have good cold tolerance, but also oikos, and any other place near zone 4 that has them.

My own observations are that Paw paws seem to not care about the raw cold as much as the wind, dryness, and sun.
I would be sure to keep them in the shade early on, even for several years. I used a piece of green thick plastic garden fence folded up over the top to create dappled shade for the first two summers and then planted a seaberry to the south of the paw paw very close. That has seemed to be a good strategy, I may try surrounding a new paw  paw with seaberry to help block northern winds and southern sun. The feathery leaves create a good dappled shade effect and I assume the nitrogen fixing aspect helps too.
In addition I used a thick heavy wood chunk, scraps, and rounds mulch that keep the soil moist even in hot dry weather. I didn't do this until the 3rd year and I wonder now if I had done it right away if I couldn't have saved the other paw paw I got in the pair.

I am going to attempt to replicate the same type of strategy the green barn did with their seeds as well, and I believe that is what oikos did too.
Seeds from several sources are cheap and it's worth trying for me since I enjoy this type of thing. Paw paw seeds are not very hard to sprout, but seem very finicky to actually keep alive when young. I may try several strategies including just a direct seedbed with a large quantity of seed.

I made a seedbed of American Persimmon 3 years ago from around 200 oikos persimmon seeds. I now probably have 40 or so 1' to 2' seedlings I will be attempting to dig out this fall. If I can get their deep roots intact and transplant I'll replace them with paw paw seeds next spring. If it's a disaster to try and dig them up I will have to rethink that. I have a theory the deep taproot needs to be intact to help survive the cold.
Anyway good luck and please do check back if you have success or even failure(finger crossed not).
Have a good one
 
Todd Parr
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I am trying here in WI.  I have killed a few already.  I agree that the sun seems a bigger enemy than the cold.  I have one Paw Paw left that I thought I killed this year.  It is in it's third year and I thought it could handle full sun.  It's leaves shriveled and fell off and I thought I killed it, but I build a shade barrier that covers it from above and the entire west side, and it has new growth coming from near ground level.  The new growth is already a foot or so tall in the couple months it has been there.
 
John Wolfram
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Ouch, $50 a per tree with a less than stellar chance of it surviving it's first year. I bought my share of expensive $30+ pawpaw trees, and the only thing that lives on of those trees is the scion wood I cut from them. I've had much better success buying the trees in bundles of 100 from the state nursery and simply expecting heavy losses. Since a bundle of 100 actually costs less than some of the fancy potted trees I bought, I'm A.Okay with having a 90% mortality rate among the cheap pawpaws.
 
John Weiland
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Along with Oikos, there is this nursery in Arkansas as well that sells different types of planting stock:   http://www.blossomnursery.com/pawpaw_seed_germinated.htm

Just wish I knew the better way to go.....to start from scratch with many seeds/seedlings that are not so expensive and select the survivors or go with something has has claims of being cold hardy.  While the latter sounds attractive, even if a bit pricey, one can never count on how adapted it will be for one's particular soil and other factors.  Hmmmmmmm.....
 
John Wolfram
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I've never ordered from Blossom, but if you want to order pawpaw seeds, F.W. Schumacher sells them by the pound. $30 for 300 pawpaw seeds is hard to beat unless you have a state nursery nearby selling two year old trees for $0.30 each.
 
John Weiland
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John Wolfram wrote:I've never ordered from Blossom, but if you want to order pawpaw seeds, F.W. Schumacher sells them by the pound. $30 for 300 pawpaw seeds is hard to beat unless you have a state nursery nearby selling two year old trees for $0.30 each.


Thanks for that link, John.  As you suggested, Minnesota has regional and county soil conservation service offices that offer budget-priced nursery stock for wind-breaks and other planting efforts, but as you might imagine, paw paw is not among the offerings for our area.  So I'm leaning toward the seeds as a longer term project of plant and select.  I see that there are two versions of paw paw seeds offered by Schumacher, a standard and an 'improved'.  It appears that the standard seed comes from non-yellow fruit (?...).  Would I be hurting my efforts by going with the improved?  Maybe do a bit of both if they are sexually compatible down the road?  I agree with the sentiment in these threads that, if time permits, re-selecting for material possibly adapted to an outlying region can be fun and worthwhile.
 
Russell Olson
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I have ordered many seeds from FW Schumacher, including their Paw paw seeds. They are a first rate forestry seed operation.
One thing to consider however is that their and other places Paw paw seed will have to arrive fresh, and for me in MN arrived in the winter.
The seeds for me did freeze in the mailbox, but I had a good percentage sprout anyway. I neglected to baby them enough in their pots and impatiently planted them out in June. They did not survive. The seedlings might be more fragile than the seeds.

I now have a batch of seedlings in a 5 gallon bucket filled with soil, compost, and peat that appear to be doing well, I intend on overwintering them in my unheated but insulated porch that gets down to bout 40 in the winter and transplanting them next year once the frost threat has left. My survivor Paw paw is definitely late to leaf out, just starting in middle may. Sunday the May 15th this year we had a hard frost/freeze event that butchered alot of things like walnuts, chestnuts, grapes, hardy kiwi etc. The Paw paw had just teeny tiny leaves at that point that got nipped slightly but probably was saved a bit. My walnuts and kiwi  were fully leafed out and looked like dead black alien blobs that morning.

I think any amount of diversity in the genetics of any plant we culture is a good thing, even if certain genetics are selected out of the pool it's worth trying.
Mark Shephard commented that he also had one Paw paw out of many that survived on his wisconsin farm, and part of his system involves breeding plants and trees with his STUN method which requires alot of trees and alot of genetic diversity. He even thought it might be possible to breed cold hardy tropical plants eventually if enough effort was put into it.
My own efforts for next year will be a few sources of paw paw seeds planted in my bucket method, and in a seedbed, along with a few older trees from multiple sources (Jung, Oikos, one other) to try and give my survivor a more mature pollinator.
 
John Weiland
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Thanks for added information.  I notice that the seed requires 90 - 120 days cold stratification.  Is there any reason, assuming Schumacher would ship seed in the fall for a late fall planting, that I could not prepare a site and plant the seed this fall for cold stratification over the winter?  Clearly with our typical winter, I would need to choose a site carefully and be diligent with deep mulching in order to reduce the extent of freeze damage that would occur to most of the seed.  I could reserve a subset of seed for pots, which would be placed either in a cold, but not freezing, unheated room attached to the house, or in the root cellar.  These would be removed for planting next May.  Again, I would assume a LOT of percent loss, but as many indicate, there is advantage to the availability of relatively inexpensive seed from which the most hardy could be selected and nurtured along.
 
Russell Olson
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Everything I've read says don't freeze the seeds, they'll die, I would think any direct seeding bed, even deeply mulched, will freeze in MN.
I think I got my Paw paw seed delivered in Dec from FW schumacher, my seeds froze but most did sprout, I don't know how complete the freeze was, the baggie they came in had ice crystals and the soil was hard.
I'm planning on stratifying indoors, in a baggie mixed with moist peat moss, then direct seeding with deep mulch in May or so. The seeds take their time sprouting and the first leaves are not obvious for some time, but when they do sprout they are pretty vigorous and stand up through the soil pretty well, like a bean almost.
Good luck!
 
Todd Parr
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My Paw Paws have always been very late to leaf out here.
 
John Weiland
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Russell Olson wrote:Everything I've read says don't freeze the seeds, they'll die, I would think any direct seeding bed, even deeply mulched, will freeze in MN.


Thanks.....yeah, even with the humor of having the line drawn across the state as shown below, I don't think heavy mulching would help in the northern half of the state.  Probably best to keep the bulk of the seeds inside.  Just as an experiment I may toss a few of each type into a protected area near a building to see if I get lucky.  And I may have the seeds delivered to my place of work so that they are not sitting in the mailbox where they will freeze for sure. 

Thanks again for great input on this issue.
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Ghislaine de Lessines
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I have a couple of improved varieties planted by our pool that have survived two winters here.  I planted seeds throughout our woods as well, but I haven't walked out there looking for any that sprouted and survived.
 
Mike Normandeau
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I picked up a couple of Paw Paw's from Ken Taylor at Green Barn a couple of years ago and they are doing fine. Had some rabbit damage on one of them that turned it into a stick last winter but new growth this spring and all is well. I live in Montreal, Canada and have had no issues with the cold which can go down to -30 celcius some nights. I planted them in partial shade in an area protected from the north east wind. They were pretty small when I received them and are a couple of feet high now - most of the energy has gone into roots, hoping to see it start to take off next year.

Mike
 
John Weiland
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Thanks for these additional posts.  They are testament not only to the increased range that can be achieved with paw paws, but to the integrity of the different source providers for the stock.  All of this is really encouraging.
 
miekal and
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I've been growing pawpaw in z4b WI since the late 90s.  Every grafted pawpaw I've ever planted has died, most never made it thru the first winter.  Seedling PA Golden and seedling hybrids from John Gordon however are doing fine, fruiting and ripening fruit (just barely).  My original pawpaw patch made it thru the coldest WI winter since 1978, 55 consecutive days below 0 and two days of -30F.  I sell 3 year old seedlings at the local farmers market.
 
Liz Echeverria
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There is a nursery here in Northern Vermont that sells tons of fruit varieties that have been bred for like 30 years to be cold hardy strains.  I've had good success with their mulberries.  We are borderline zone 3/zone 4.  I think I remember them having paw paws?  They have a website.  Just google Elmore Roots Nursery.  Not sure if they mail order stuff.
 
Theo Johnson
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I planted a couple that I purchased from Oikos a few years back and they are both still with us.  I had given them up for dead after the first winter, but they eventually started to leaf out in late June.  I think  two more winters have past and this year they look like they are going to put on some substantial growth actually instead of just surviving.  I haven't paid to much attention to them, just chop n drop some surrounding growth once or twice a season.

While being pretty far north, I do live within a couple miles of the the Big Lake that tends to moderate our winter lows and summer highs, so I suspect that plays a factor as well.  Head inland a couple miles and you are smack in the middle of the boreal forest!  I have had some good luck with starting Black Walnut from seed as well, although those don't range this far north in MN. 
 
Todd Parr
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miekal and wrote:I've been growing pawpaw in z4b WI since the late 90s.  Every grafted pawpaw I've ever planted has died, most never made it thru the first winter.  Seedling PA Golden and seedling hybrids from John Gordon however are doing fine, fruiting and ripening fruit (just barely).  My original pawpaw patch made it thru the coldest WI winter since 1978, 55 consecutive days below 0 and two days of -30F.  I sell 3 year old seedlings at the local farmers market.


I would like to buy some if you could message me with when/where the farmer's market is.  I am close to you.  Thanks.
 
John Weiland
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Great extra posts here.....so encouraged to see the successes with this species and hope to get some seeds or stock purchased this fall. Duluth is pretty chilly, even with the lake effect.  Saw the wonderful aftermath one year where strong winds threw high waves and broken ice-chunks through the windows of a then-Holiday Inn.  Don't know if it's still there on the lakeside. Anyway, looks like there is good promise for paw paws up here and hope to keep these contacts available in case there is a chance to obtain/exchange saplings.
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
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Liz Echeverria wrote:There is a nursery here in Northern Vermont that sells tons of fruit varieties that have been bred for like 30 years to be cold hardy strains.  I've had good success with their mulberries.  We are borderline zone 3/zone 4.  I think I remember them having paw paws?  They have a website.  Just google Elmore Roots Nursery.  Not sure if they mail order stuff.


That's who I got my improved varieties from.  I didn't say so in my post because I know he doesn't mail order. :/
 
Kimberly Wolfe
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John Weiland wrote:This may have been brought up before but was wondering of any successes in moving Paw Paw's up north...


I'm in Seattle.  I thought I heard we used to have a native PawPaw around these parts. Anyone know anything about it? Or its name?  Also,  I got a cutting from a neighbor that is now growing in a pot. She doesn't know if it's a male or female.  At one time, she had 1 plant & a neighbor had the other & they used to get fruit. But years ago the new owner of the neighbor's house ripped their's out & she doesn't remember which tree fruited - hers or the neighbor's. 

How do I figure out if the tree I've got is a male or female so I can get another of the opposite gender?
 
Robert Marr
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John Wolfram wrote:Ouch, $50 a per tree with a less than stellar chance of it surviving it's first year. I bought my share of expensive $30+ pawpaw trees, and the only thing that lives on of those trees is the scion wood I cut from them. I've had much better success buying the trees in bundles of 100 from the state nursery and simply expecting heavy losses. Since a bundle of 100 actually costs less than some of the fancy potted trees I bought, I'm A.Okay with having a 90% mortality rate among the cheap pawpaws.


Hi John,

How do you handle filling in the gaps created by the dead pawpaws? For example if you planted an entire swale in paw paws and then 90 percent of them die do you just replant until you've filled all of the intended spaces?
 
John Wolfram
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Robert Marr wrote:Hi John,
How do you handle filling in the gaps created by the dead pawpaws? For example if you planted an entire swale in paw paws and then 90 percent of them die do you just replant until you've filled all of the intended spaces?

In addition to filling in gaps in sequential years, I also plant the trees in clusters hoping that at least one tree of the cluster will survive. For example, this past Spring I was planting three pawpaws seedlings into each post-hole digger sized hole.
 
Jay Grace
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Ive seen pawpaws as far north as Maine personally and have heard about them grown wild in Ontario.
My gf sells the seeds and occasionally the fruits when the harvest is good from her wild stand of trees in north Georgia.
Here is a link to her shop.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Regrarians/permalink/612769138909857/
 
Jay Emm
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They are native to Ontario, yes.  Unfortunately, their habitat here has mostly been destroyed over the past few centuries, so they only exist in isolated clusters.  Settlers preferred pears and apples over pawpaws, and many riverlands got turned into industrial land and pasture land.  Their natural range here ends right where zone 6 stops - not too far from me.

Greenbarn is waaaay north of us, so whatever they're producing should be nice and cold-hardy.  I understand that they get fruit, too, which is great to know for northern growers.

Apart from sun and wind conditions, I'd caution people up north to be careful buying bare-root, and buying early-fruiting varieties.  Pawpaws don't like being transplanted bare-root.  They'll do it, but expect them to be unhappy for a year or two.  They may have significant die-back.

Also, most pawpaws expect a reasonably long summer to produce fruit, and many varieties might run out of warm weather in zone 4 or 5 (even 6).  PA Golden and NC-1 are the earliest two I know of.

 
Miles Flansburg
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I have three growing in pots, from seed, that are now through their second summer. Transplanted once from small pots. I have them under my hazel nut trees in the dappled shade and try to keep them moist. I cover them with a foot of leaves in the winter to keep the cold off of them. We will see what happens.
 
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