Article Date: Friday, November 22, 2013
By J. Wayne Fears
Want a deer magnet? Find a fruit bearing Common persimmon tree and take a stand.
Most years the female Common persimmon tree bears fruit. Deer love this fruit when it ripens and falls to the ground in the autumn. It is usually available under the tree for a month or more as only a few persimmons fall at a time.
Although deer browse the leaves and twigs of the common persimmon, the tree's greatest benefit to deer and other wildlife comes from its orange oval fruit. The fruit ripens on the tree after the first frost and is about the diameter of a quarter. Ripe persimmons usually start dropping during September in Northern states and in October or November in the South.
Persimmon trees do well in a wide variety of soils and are found from the great lakes region south. Its western range is to eastern Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. It is deciduous, relatively long lived and grows to a height of 40 feet or more. It is commonly found in fencerows, along the edges of fields and in old abandoned home sites.
It is important to remember that persimmon trees are either male or female. Only the female persimmon tree bears fruit. I have a friend in Virginia who found a tall growing persimmon tree along the edge of an abandoned field in a National Forest. He spent much time and money fertilizing the "secret" tree for three years. He couldn't understand why it never bore fruit. During the fourth year he took a forester with him to take a look at the tree. It was a male tree.
Once you have located a persimmon tree and made sure it is a female, managing the tree is not difficult. Like most trees the persimmon does best and bears more fruit when it is not crowded and gets plenty of sunlight. Here are some management tips:
- If necessary clear out competing trees by cutting.
- Each spring fertilize the tree along the drip line according to a soil test recommendation. If you do not have a soil test, fertilize the tree at a rate of 100 pounds per acre of 5-10-15 fertilizer.
- If there are no persimmon trees on your property you can purchase seedlings and establish them with a little work. You will want to purchase seedlings that are from 18 to 36 inches tall.
- Be sure to plant during the late fall or winter when the seedlings are dormant.
- While many land managers like to plant their persimmon seedlings along a fencerow where they would naturally occur, others like to plant six trees in a diamond-shaped grove, space permitting, about 10-feet apart.
- There should be seedlings of both sexes in each grove. This type grove keeps the male and a female tree close for pollination, and provides a lot of food when the fruit is falling.
- When planting seedlings it is important to dig a large enough hole to prevent "J" rooting the seedling and provide natural root placement. These delicate young roots are sensitive, and when crowded, the result is usually a dead seedling.
- During the first few years of the trees life, keep competing weeds and brush cut.
- Fertilize annually according to soil test recommendations or as stated above.
Be patient, as it can be as long as eight years before the new trees start bearing fruit but once they do, you have a deer magnet.
Editor's note: J. Wayne Fears, named the Food Plot Doctor by the Whitetails Unlimited Magazine, is one of the pioneers who helped develop wildlife habitat and food plot practices that are common today. Now his decades of experience are available to Global Outfitters readers. J. Wayne uses questions from our readers and TV audience as the basis for his columns in Outdoor Outfitters.com. and habitat segments on TV. Just mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org The GO Habitat columns will be archived on the Globaloutfitters.com website, so you can go to them for reference in the future.
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