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That orange tree might be a persimmon tree

Persimmon tree

Cooperative Extension From a distance, this oriental persimmon tree looks a lot like an orange tree.

Cooperative Extension From a distance, this oriental persimmon tree looks a lot like an orange tree.

By Danelle Cutting

Rowan Cooperative Extension

Cooler temperatures are forecast over the weekend. As the season progresses, our first frost should be coming soon. Because I work with homeowners, farmers and farmers’ markets, I never know the questions that will come up. Here are few questions I received this week about the cooler weather.

Question: I would like to plant a few more cool-season crops. Is it still OK to do so?

Answer: You can try, but we are past our typical first frost date (roughly around Oct. 15). With that being said, a killing frost or multiple killing frosts will be at our doorstep very soon. The plants may survive, but since you are starting so late, they probably will not have enough time to become adapted and would need some assistance, such as row covers or low tunnels to survive. If you are just wanting to plant some garlic, a few cabbages or onions, those seem to be the most hardy this time of year. If you would like to get more information on the best time to plant annual crops, check out one of our newest publications: http://content.ces.ncsu.edu/central-north-carolina-planting-calendar-for-annual-vegetables-fruits-and-herbs.pdf

Question: I keep driving by a house that has a tree that looks like it has oranges. I did not think we could grow oranges in Rowan County, can we?

Answer: There is a hardy orange called Trifoliate orange, but I doubt this is the specimen you describe. Tricfoliate orange is a hardy orange that can survive our winters. It has invasive tendencies and sharp thorns. The fruit is pretty nasty and bitter when fresh, but some use it in marmalades. Some people have successfully grown oranges, limes and even bananas. But, they always have to have some help (greenhouses, protective covers, etc.). What I think you saw is probably an oriental persimmon. They are much larger than the American persimmon and are usually the size of a large orange or baseball. They are very bright orange to a reddish color and are ripening right now. Most of the oriental persimmons are not astringent (bitter), but you would need to check before purchasing. If you would like more information on the oriental persimmon, visit our publication: http://content.ces.ncsu.edu/growing-oriental-persimmons-in-north-carolina/.

Question: You said there would be some activities at the Salisbury Farmers’ Market. Do you have any coming up?

Answer: Yes. This weekend, the Salisbury Farmers’ Market will host a Pirate Storytelling program that is great for all youth. If you have already bought your child’s costume, bring them dressed to get more wear out of the costume, and join in on the story. The stories will be told by a pirate from 10 a.m.-11 a.m.

If you have questions concerning cool-season crops, oriental persimmons or gardening in general, call your local agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.

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