How to grow and prune a Persimmon
General growing information: If you take care of your tree, water it, keep it mulched, fertilize it when annual shoot growth is less than 12 inches, and protect it from gophers and deer, in about five years you should get a good crop of persimmons. Here in northern California, they begin ripening with the first rains of fall, usually in mid-November. The ‘Fuyu’ persimmons are ready just before Thanksgiving, and the ‘Hachiya’ a couple of weeks later.
Location: Full sun with some air movement is recommended for persimmon trees in inland areas, although they will tolerate some partial shade. Persimmons grown in cooler areas should have full sun with protection from cooling breezes. As an attractive ornamental the tree fits well in the landscape. It does not compete well with eucalyptus. Soil: Persimmons can withstand a wide rage of conditions as long as the soil is not overly salty, but does best in deep, well drained loam. A pH range of 6.5 to 7.5 is preferred. The tree has a strong tap root which may mean digging a deeper hole than usual when planting (when on D. kaki stock).
Newly planted trees of any kind are often slow to leaf out. Because persimmons leaf out based on number of hours exposed to warmth rather than on exposure to chilling, they can be slower than most. In some areas, a newly planted persimmon may not break dormancy until late summer or fall. If you begin to worry that your tree is dead, nick the bark with a fingernail or knife. If you see green beneath the bark, the tree is just resting.
Fruit Is on New Growth Remember that the fruit grows on the tree's new growth. Pruning will help stimulate that growth but remember not to get carried away when you prune. Leave 2/3 of the growth on the tree so you will have a more mature healthy tree with better fruit.
Irrigation: Persimmon trees will withstand short periods of drought, but the fruit will be larger and of higher quality with regular watering. Extreme drought will cause the leaves and fruit to drop prematurely. Any fruit left on the tree will probably sunburn. Some 36 to 48 inches of water are needed annually, applied gradually in spring and tapering off in the fall. Hot inland areas may require 2 or 3 applications weekly, while coastal areas may need watering only once every 6 weeks, depending on the soil. If a drip system is is used, the emitters should be moved away from the trunk as the tree matures.
Pruning: Prune persimmon trees to develop a strong framework of main branches while the tree is young. Otherwise the fruit, which is borne at the tips of the branches, may be too heavy and cause breakage. A regular program of removal of some new growth and heading others each year will improve structure and reduce alternate bearing. An open vase system is probably best. Even though the trees grow well on their own, persimmons can be pruned heavily as a hedge, as a screen, or to control size. They even make a nice espalier. Cut young trees back to 1/2 high (or about 3 feet) at the time of planting. Fruit forms in the axils of new growth that arises from 1-year-old wood. To encourage new growth, I prune lightly in winter while the tree is dormant,
Fertilization: Most trees do well with a minimum of fertilizing. Excess nitrogen can cause fruit drop. If mature leaves are not deep green and shoot growth is less than a foot per year, apply a balanced fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 at a rate of l pound per inch of trunk diameter at ground level. Spread the fertilizer evenly under the canopy in late winter or early spring. More....
Common Types of Persimmons in Marin
Fuyu (Fuyugaki) - Nonastringent
Medium-large oblate fruit, faintly four-sided. Skin deep orange. Flesh light orange, sweet and mild. Ripens late. Keeps well and is an excellent packer and shipper. Tree vigorous, spreading, productive. Most popular nonastringent cultivar in Japan. Excellent for eating fresh from the tree, does not have the astringent taste of Hachiya.
Hachiya - Astringent
Large, oblong-conical fruit Skin glossy, deep orange. Flesh dark yellow. Sweet and rich. Good for drying and jams. Ripens midseason to late. Tree vigorous, upright-spreading. Prolific in California. Picked when inside flesh has the consistency of jelly otherwise it will taste like a mouth full of chalk. Makes good golf clubs when the tree is cut down. Unless you really love the Hachiya fruit, skip this variety.
Youtube video chronology of a Fuyu Persimmon from bud to fruit harvest.