Book Review

Persimmon Culture in New Zealand

by Hirotoshi Kitagawa and Paul G. Glucina

Science Information Publishing Centre. Wellington 1984. Softbound, 74 pages.
(See CRFG Book Service for prices.)

Reviewed by Robert R. Chambers (9/1995)

The title accurately reflects the subject matter of the book. It covers most aspects of choosing, planting, growing and harvesting persimmons. The book was originally published in 1984 (and carried by our Book Service) but the information appears to be still timely today. While the book reflects conditions in New Zealand and Japan, it seems to be equally applicable to the U.S. and other places. What is not reflected in the title is the generous helping of colored pictures which are scattered throughout the book--and persimmons are one of the most colorful of fruits.

At 74 pages this is not a big volume, but the subject is covered rather thoroughly. The book starts by presenting the four classes of persimmons, (1) astringent, uniform color, (2) astringent, color depending on seed content, (3) non-astringent, uniform color, and (4)non-astringent, color depending on seed content. It continues with pictures and discussion of the most prominent cultivars in Japan, New Zealand, U.S. and a few other countries.

This is followed by short chapters on rootstocks and propagation; shoot growth, flowering, pollination and fruit development; orchard management, including climate and site variables, pruning, pests, etc.; harvesting, storage and processing; causes and removal of astringency; and selling fruit to Japan.

The authors are experienced academic experts and they strike a good balance between scientific and practical information. The text is quite readable. The stated purpose of the book is to encourage the development of a persimmon industry, and it tells the reader much more than will probably be needed by the home gardener. However, once a fruit tree is established in a yard, the owners will learn about its behavior from year to year, how to treat it and what to expect from it, and the tree will gradually become a member of the family. Under these circumstances it is desirable to have books around that tell more about one's trees, just as people enjoy books about their particular breeds of dog or cat. Without taking up much room, this book really does provide a very readable reference on persimmons.

We have several persimmon trees in northern San Diego County, and look forward each year to the fruit. Mostly we eat the 'Fuyus' fresh and freeze the 'Hachiyas'. The frozen persimmons are held under the faucet while the skin is rubbed off, and the frozen pulp is then cut into chunks. Half-thawed persimmon chunks with a dollup of whipped cream, or equivalent, make a delicious dessert--as good as any fruit I can think of. Persimmons in our area have one more vital characteristic--they will survive for years without any irrigation at all if that becomes necessary.

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