Pawpaws in NY: A Guide on How to Grow and Care for Pawpaws

Anya Osatuke, WNY Small Fruit Specialist
Harvest New York

October 5, 2021
Pawpaws in NY: A Guide on How to Grow and Care for Pawpaws

The pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is a fruiting tree native to the eastern United States, growing from the Florida lowlands up to the Southern Tier in New York. It is believed that the pawpaw's range is as large as it is because Indigenous Peoples cultivated this tree. Pawpaws have great value as a food crop. They contain 7 of the 9 essential amino acids and are an excellent source of iron and manganese. 

Pawpaws used to be a widespread food crop throughout eastern and midwestern states. They were eaten by many during the Great Depression (1929 - 1939). At this time pawpaws gained the nickname "poor man's banana". Pawpaws became less popular in the 1950's, as grocery stores became the place where most people purchased food. Produce buyers for grocery stores showed preference for crops that could withstand shipping over large distances. Marketing by large corporations, such as Chiquita Bananas, made other fruits more popular. 

The pawpaw patch in Lansing has attracted much interest due to the large, flavorful fruits and strong trees that grow there. Pawpaw trees grow up to about 35 feet tall. Pawpaws need around 5 to 6 years to begin growing fruits and flowers. Their maroon-colored flowers open between March and May, and fruit become ripe from August through October. Compared to pawpaws that grow in the wild in the Midwest, some of the fruits of the Lansing pawpaws can be 2 - 5 times larger. 

Pawpaws in New York: A Guide on How to Grow and Care for Pawpaws, written by Anya Osatuke, Berry Specialist with CCE Harvest NY, Sean Dembrosky of Edible Acres in Trumansburg, NY, and Marvin Pritts of Cornell University, shares practical information on how to grow and care for pawpaws, based on conversations with growers and researchers in New York State and the information provided by the references cited. 



Pawpaws in NY: A Guide on How to Grow and Care for Pawpaws (pdf; 1021KB)


Upcoming Events

Urban Berry Project: Growing Strawberries 101

May 29, 2024
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Upper Manhattan, NY

Join Makela Elvy, Anya Osatuke, and Dan Olmstead from Cornell University, along with the NYRP Urban Ag team, for a deep dive into everything strawberry! For beginning gardeners and advanced growers alike, this hands-on workshop will include an introduction to some of the preferred NYC-loving varieties, as well as a chance to plant out a new bed of strawberries in the Riley-Levin Demonstration Garden. SPACE is LIMITED! Registration is required.

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June 29, 2024
8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Mexico, NY

Join CCE Oswego and CCE Harvest NY for a state-wide conference on a new emerging fruit called Honeyberry, also known as Haskap (Lonicera caerulea). Honeyberries are a dark blue color, like blueberries, but with a distinct oval shape. The taste is most associated with raspberry and blueberry, while also containing its own distinctive flavor. The fruit can grow in USDA Plant Hardiness zones 1 to 8 and can survive up to 30 years or longer if properly managed. What makes the fruit unique is that it ripens from the middle of June through early July. This allows the fruit to sit comfortably between the strawberry and blueberry season. When fully mature plants can produce 6 to 10 lbs. of berries, which can be eaten as a fresh fruit or made into value-added products.

The conference will cover the history of the fruit, best growing practices, processing, value-added production, and marketing. Guest speakers will include growers and researchers from the US and Canada, including Dr. Bob Bors from the University of Saskatchewan. Attendees will also be able to network and attend an optional farm tour immediately after the conference. 

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Field Guide: Arthropod Pests of NYC Vegetables

Arthropod Pests of NYC Vegetables aims to help urban farmers and gardeners find, identify, and understand the most common and important insects and other arthropod pests found in New York City farms and gardens. Some of these pests are rarely mentioned in other guides but are common in NYC. The guide emphasizes scouting tips, including how to identify pests by the damage they leave behind, even when you can't find the insect itself.

This guide was created as a collaboration between Cornell Cooperative Extension's Harvest New York team and the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program.