There is another tree species that is dominant in my pasture: the native persimmon Diospyros virginiana. Every wild species from opossums to deer to canines to birds flock to these trees when the fruit falls. Currently, the base of all my existing persimmon trees have the snow dug out by deer because most of their other food is under an foot of crusted snow.
J Russel Smith in Tree Crops (1929) (pp 99-100, 303) outlines 5 main points in favor of persimmon trees being grown as tree crops:
- Little preference to soil structure
- Little preference to soil fertility
- Length of Fruiting season (Late August to February)
- Automatic storage, most fruits are held until after the first frost when animals generally have switched to stored feeds
- Most nutritious fruit grown in the Eastern US at time of publication (Shown below)
To demonstrate point 3, here are my persimmons photographed on the first of March still bearing fruit.
Persimmons have a few drawbacks as well. Its slow growth and deep root system yields expensive nursery production and difficulty in transplanting. However livestock seem to have a distaste for the persimmon leaves which allow them to grow without protection or interruption of pasture activities. Each livestock animal loves to eat the fruit though!
For now, I will be collecting persimmon seeds for planting into deep containers to provide rootstock for grafting. Once they are grown, I will graft either the best native trees in my pasture, or experiment with grafting other varieties or species of persimmon. To conclude, here is my youngest stand of persimmon. The most prolific bearers will likely be cloned for additional fodder trees.