The pawpaw is Kentucky’s largest native fruit. About the size and shape of a potato, its flavor has been described as a tropical that resembles a combination of banana, mango and pineapple. While some may not take to the fruit, which has a consistency of a really ripe banana, anyone who has had pawpaw ice cream will be won over.
According to Kentucky State University, the pawpaw fruit has both fresh market and processing appeal and KSU has the only full-time pawpaw research program in the world. Pawpaw research efforts are directed at improving propagation methods, developing orchard management recommendations, conducting regional variety trials, understanding fruit ripening and storage techniques, and germplasm collection and characterization of genetic diversity.
Since 1994, KSU has served as the USDA National Clonal Germplasm Repository or gene bank, for Asimina species (pawpaw), as a satellite site of the NCGR repository at Corvallis, Ore. There are more than 2,000 accessions (trees) from 17 states that are planted on 12 acres at the KSU farm.
Researchers are evaluating the genetic diversity contained in wild pawpaw populations so that unique material can be added to the KYSU repository collection; this potentially rich source of useful genetic traits will be used in breeding efforts.
If you are interested in the pawpaw then you should attend the Third Thursday Thing at the Kentucky State University Research Farm, 1525 Mills Lane this Thursday. Registration begins at 10 a.m. with the welcome and then Jeremy Lowe will discuss “Pawpaw Orchard Care and Maintenance” followed by “Pawpaw Processing and Value Added Products” by Sheri Crabtree.
Dr. Kirk Pomper covers “New Pawpaw Varieties Around the Corner” before breaking for lunch. After the meal there will be a grower roundtable followed by tours of the orchard there. The program concludes with a Pawpaw Fruit Tasting and Cultivar Evaluation by Sheri Crabtree and will adjourn around 3.
To find out more about our native fruit visit pawpaw.kysu.edu where you’ll find recipes and much more.