Archive for mayhaws

Mayhaws: Quality over Quantity

Mayhaws: Quality over Quantity

Anyone bothering to take the time to read this blog is probably someone  who agrees that the mayhaw fruit/flavor/jelly, etc. is a unique, premium food item. It may be correctly identified as a gourmet quality product. As such, it should be handled and processed using the highest quality standards to insure the highest quality product is achieved.

James Eaves

James Eaves with his award winning jellies and syrup taking first place in 2014 at the Beauregard Parish Fair.

Today, we have more efficient tools and methods to attain this higher level of quality. As stated earlier in this newsletter, higher quality trees are now available, producing higher quality fruit,  which equates to a higher quality juice.

The quality of the product you produce depends on the quality of the juice you derive from your fruit. That’s pretty much what it boils down to (pun intended). Today we have advanced steamers, refractometers, fruit presses and other devices to expertly extract and measure the quality of what we are extracting.

brix

Refractometer / Brix meter used to measure the brix or sugar content of fruit juice.

The higher the brix level is, the higher the level of dissolved sucrose, fructose, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins and other good stuff your juice has to make your product taste better and be better for you. So, like James pictured above, imagine your product is being judged each time a jar is opened. Will you win the blue ribbon?

Mr. James Eaves grow mayhaws in Beauregard Parish and discovered the “Maxine” mayhaw variety.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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The Mayhaw Man: The Legend of Bearhead Creek

The Mayhaw Man: The Legend of Bearhead Creek

by Johnny Smith

As I flip through the channels on my television, I am amazed at all of the programs where people are looking for big hairy monsters. They have Mountain Monsters, Mothman, Finding Bigfoot, Swamp Creature, Trail of the Skunk Ape, Messing with Bigfoot… the list goes on. Shucks, I could tell them where he’s at. He’s down on Bearhead Creek, eating mayhaws. Everyone in our neck of the woods knows the legend. Small children are taught at an early age where they can go and where not to go. Strange occurrences have been attributed to the great hairy ape-man for years. Just the other day, my wife Deb looked up from under a hanging limb in the mayhaw patch and said, “Who drank my coke, I just set it down here?” I looked around with a wide-eyed, fearful, but knowing expression and whispered, “the Mayhaw Man!” Deb didn’t seem too impressed with this well thought out and highly educated guess, but then she wasn’t raised around Bearhead swamp, either.

legend of bearhead creek

Artist’s interpretation of the “Legend of Bearhead Creek”

And so the story goes….

and for the life of me, I can’t understand why Miss Verdie Mae Daftwert would be out in the swamp alone picking mayhaws in her condition. Miss Verdie Mae suffered from a condition known as strabismus. Besides that, she was as cross-eyed as a bat and danged-near as near-sighted as one to boot. Often, Miss Verdie would be looking right at you and speaking to you, when all the time you thought she was talking to the fellow across the road. You couldn’t look Miss Verdie in the eye and tell a lie. It just wasn’t possible. At any rate, that’s what she was doing, picking mayhaws, all alone in “the mayhaw flat” along the edge of Bearhead Swamp that fateful Saturday morning.

That Saturday, Elvie “Bud” Jerkins was celebrating the promotion he’d received at the Bug Tussle Saw Mill the day before. Bud was a big bear of a man, with dark, forbidding bushy brows and, generally looking, pretty much forbidding and bushy all over. For all of his dark, fierce countenance, Bud Elvie, as he was affectionately called, had a heart of gold. That morning he had hitched a ride to the big town of DeQuincy and bought himself a brand new pair of overalls at the Nichols Dry Goods store. These were genuine OshKosh B’gosh overalls and Bud Elvie was hurrying home to impress his wife, Miss Haddie with them. Bud had just stopped near the mayhaw flat along Bearhead and began changing behind a convenient bushy shrub. He later recalled having an uneasy feeling come over him, as if he was not alone. He had shrugged off the feeling as he shucked his brogans and old duds and raised up near the shrub. That’s when it happened. He felt the piercing claw of the beast grab his backside, causing him to scream in pain and fear.

Miss Verdie said she had just straightened up from picking mayhaws and was holding the small of her back wondering what that horrible skunk-like smell was. That’s when it happened! A blood-curdling scream emanated from the right of her, shattering the stillness of the calm Spring morning and sending icy shivers of terror up her spine. Not wanting to, but forcing herself anyway, she looked to where the sound came from. An apparition far exceeding her worst nightmares met her view. A great, towering, dark and hairy creature standing upright thrashed and bellowed in rage not fifty feet from her. The creature she described later was obviously one and the same as the creature we know today as Bigfoot. However, in those days, folks didn’t know a lot of scientific names like we do now. The creatures were simply referred to as Wild Men, or sometimes Booger Man. Apparently, some study of the creatures was made by the locals for them to know that they often picked their noses. However, after this dreadful day, whispers of “The Mayhaw Man” would bring chills to the bravest hearts and change the behavior of wayward young’uns for generations to come. “Better be good or the Mayhawman’ll getcha.”

Anyway, back to Miss Verdie. She stated she screamed at this point, flinging her berries in the air as she raised her arms, crying out, “Mayhaw Man!” She then fled for her life, hearing thrashing, splashing and heavy breathing closing in on her as the beast took chase. She later stated, “I thought I was a goner for sure” because her brogans soon filled with mud and water, tiring her to exhaustion, as if she had lead weights attached to her ankles. She recalled that she didn’t see the bluff bank of Bearhead Creek until it was too late, tripping over a root and going headlong into the muddy creek ten feet below. At this point she knew it was over and just prayed for a quick ending. Then, to her amazement, the beast flew past overhead, clearing the twenty foot span between the bluff banks like it was a nothing. She later said she was truly blessed by falling in the creek without the creature seeing her. It obviously thought she had continued on and ran for some distance in that direction before realizing it had lost her trail. Miss Verdie dragged herself in her muddy, ankle-length skirt out of the creek and made a respectable dash in the opposite direction to a neighbor’s house at the top of the hill to sound the alarm. Soon, menfolk from the surrounding community were summoned and a hunting party headed up by the famous old woodsman, Clam Sweatly, was formed to comb the woods for the creature.

Bud later testified to the fact that the creature had attacked him from behind with its piercing claws and even offered to show the marks, but no one seemed to want to view this critical forensic evidence. He stated, as the creature attacked him from behind, causing him to howl in pain, he saw Miss Verdie over there looking with horror at something above and behind him over his left shoulder. He stated he could only imagine, from her expression, the terrible beast which was about to devour him. He said he ran in the direction Miss Verdie took, thinking he could surely outrun her when he realized she must have turned off somewhere. He stated he was too terrified to look back, but just crossed the creek as fast as he could and headed home as fast as his legs would carry him. Bud’s wife, Miss Haddie, didn’t let Bud go off by himself for years afterwards.

Although the hunters searched far and wide, nothing was ever found but a few fifteen inch bare footprints left by the creature, some new overalls hanging on a mayhaw limb and one Nichols Dry Goods receipt for $7.43. The old woodsman, Clam Sweatly, expertly proclaimed the beast must stand well over eight feet tall, as its stride was measured at 21 feet. This explained the ease with which the creature cleared Bearhead Creek. The creature was never found, but mayhaw picking along Bearhead has never been quite the same. Even today, pickers tend to straighten up, grab their lower backs, sniff the air and look around with the uneasy feeling that they are being watched!

Johnny Smith is the Mayhaw Man and grows mayhaws in Singer, LA, a community in Beauregard Parish. Here is his website: http://www.themayhawman.com/

 

 

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