It's early August here in Central-Kentucky and the International-Pawpaw-Convention at Kentucky-State-University is more than a month away followed by the Ohio-Pawpaw-Festival -- long-after the fabulous early-bearing-trees drop their last-fruits to eagerly-awaiting pawpaw-snatchers like me. Are we in a different time-zone or what?
This year I'm reporting on two early-bearing-trees: the Champion-Tree in Richmond that started bearing on August 5th and a new discovery dubbed "Early Bell" that's located near the Bell House in Lexington, and it officially bore it's first ripe fruits on July 29th. The season has experienced some record heat-waves that appear to have caused a moderate degree of skin-scorching and uneven fruit-development on the Champion Tree, but the Bell tree was apparently unaffected.
As far as I know Early Bell, as it were, takes the prize for christening the 2011 pawpaw harvesting season. Bell has a very mild and moderately sweet-tasting fruit with only a hint of tropical pawpaw-flavor and NO bitter after-taste -- a good beginner's pawpaw. This was confirmed by two young bystanders on the scene, Phil and his lady-guest that have never tasted pawpaw fruit before. I asked him to save a few samples for the KSU pawpaw curators, but I can tell it's gonna be slim pickings as the pawpaw tree is in Phil's back-yard, and he took an immediate liking to the discovery.
Bell's medium-to-large fruit bears a double-row of long finger-shaped seeds that are sometimes wispy like Peterson's Rappahannock pawpaw seeds. The seed-count and weight is about average and the seed-sacks are cling-free, making seed removal easy.
As I said before, this is quite early for pawpaw fruits. It makes the International Pawpaw Conference seem like the World Baseball Series played in snow... speaking of which I hope to bring frozen-fruit-pulp popsicles to the Conference as tasting-samples to pass-out during my presentation. That should make an impression!
Early Bell Tree Fruits (2011)
Note the plump shape and fruit clusters up to ten or more