Mayhaw Selections – Which Ones Should I Plant?

Mayhaw Selections – Which Ones Should I Plant?

by Billy Craft

God created the mayhaw and other fruit trees on the third day. All mayhaw enthusiasts are certainly grateful for the third day of creation. Mayhaws are a tough, “survivor-type” plant withstanding bulldozers clearing land, draglines draining swamps and residential development all across the southeastern USA.

In recent years, mayhaw orchards have “sprung up” throughout Louisiana and nearly all southeastern states which have historically had mayhaws in the wild. J.S. Akin from Sibley, Louisiana was the early pioneer in Louisiana who recognized the potential of producing mayhaws in an orchard setting. The growth of orchards has steadily increased in recent years in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The demand for trees, jelly, juice and other mayhaw products has reached a fever pitch. The website of the Louisiana Mayhaw Association has been a great asset for all producers of mayhaw products.

Potential growers are doing their research on which mayhaw selections to plant in new orchards. New growers should visit with established growers , especially during the fruiting season, to get firsthand information. When researching mayhaw selections, the following are some items for consideration:

  1. Productivity
  2. Fruit retention capability (shatter resistance)
  3. Disease Resistance
  4. Blooming date – avoid early bloomers
  5. Fruit color – dark red is preferred
  6. Tree growth pattern – upright growth versus more horizontal limb growth
  7. Spur development density

Surprise – A recent selection resulting from a cross between Double GG and Maxine. It is the latest bloomer at present, with the peak of bloom occurring during the first week in April. It is also late in fruit ripening, with peak.

Maxine – A James Eaves selection from near DeRidder, Louisiana. James named this tree after his late wife – Maxine. The Maxine selection has proven to be an excellent producer in all orchards where it has been planted. It is a late bloomer, with peak blooming occurring in late March. Fruit ripening occurs in late May. The fruit color is red and averages .8 inch. Maxine is very fire blight resistant. It has good horizontal limb growth. It is also the champion on thorn production.

mayhaw fruit

Billy Craft displaying the fruit of a young Red Champ selection.

Red Champ – is a recent selection resulting from a cross between Maxine and Double GG. It has all the good characteristics mentioned earlier in the article. It is an excellent selection having a shiny, dark red fruit averaging .85 inch. Peak of blooming is about March 20th with peak of ripening about May 20th. Disease resistance is good. Year after year, it is the healthiest looking tree in my orchard, with dark green leaves with a resistance to leaf fungi. Fruit is shatter resistant, with uniform ripening. Ninety percent of the fruit can be harvested with one shaking. The limbs have a good horizontal growth pattern.

Double GG – is a cross between Texas Star and Royal Star. Bobby Talbert selected Texas Star and Royal Star from a wild stand near Gist, Texas. Bobby generously shared grafting wood with me. Double GG has a dark red fruit averaging .75 inch. The fruit is shatter resistant with fairly good uniform ripening. It is very productive. Blooming peak is about March 10th with peak fruit ripening about May 10th. The tree has the best growth form of any tree I have tested. It has some susceptibility to fire blight, but can easily be controlled with the new chemicals currently available. It produces very few thorns.

New orchard plantings should contain two or more selections for good pollination. Mayhaws have self-fertile flowers, but have weak pollen or low viability. Rows in the orchard should be alternated with two or more selections to maximize pollination. Honey bees, orchard bees and the American hover  fly are the primary insects important in mayhaw pollination. ~

Billy Craft contributed this article to the Louisiana Mayhaw Association newsletter.

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