KYSU has the world’s largest pawpaw (Asimina triloba) research planting. The research program was started in 1990 with the aim of developing pawpaw as a new tree-fruit crop for Kentucky. Pawpaw is the largest native fruit in the United States and has very few diseases compared to other orchard crops. KYSU is the site of the USDA National Clonal Germplasm Repository for asimina species and the pawpaw orchards at KYSU contain over 1,700 trees. Research activities include germplasm collection and variety trials, and efforts are directed towards improving propagation, understanding fruit ripening and storage, and developing orchard management practices. Cultivation is best in hardiness zones 5-9 and trees take 7–8 years from seedling to fruiting. KYSU has created the three cultivars KSU-Atwood, KSU-Benson and KSU-Chappell, with focus on better flavors, higher yields, vigorous plants, and low seed-to-pulp ratios.

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