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Organic Production and SARE

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program

SARE is a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded initiative that sponsors competitive grants for Sustainable Agriculture research and education in a regional process nationwide. SAN is dedicated to the exchange of scientific and practical information on sustainable agriculture systems using a variety of printed and electronic communications tools. SARE works to increase knowledge about -- and help farmers and ranchers adopt -- practices that are economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible. To advance such knowledge nationwide, SARE administers a competitive Grants Program first funded by Congress in 1988. 

Southern SARE, the region that includes Kentucky, is one of four SARE Regions.  Information about Southern SARE projects can be found in newsletters and publications: 

Southern SARE administers six separate grants, each with its own priorities and audiences. The process begins with the release of calls for proposals for each of the grants.  

Kentucky State University Pawpaw SARE Project

"Development of Organic Production Practices for Pawpaw on Selected Rootstocks"

Pawpaw is a unique native tree fruit that is resistant to many diseases and insect pests, making this crop attractive to organic farmers. However, little information concerning organic production of pawpaw is available. Pawpaw cultivars with excellent fruit quality are usually propagated commercially by grafting cultivar buds (scions) onto common seedling rootstock of diverse genetic origin. In regional variety trials, the pawpaw cultivars PA-Golden and Sunflower have produced fruit earlier than other cultivars. Rootstocks produced from open pollinated seed from these cultivars could promote early bearing of grafted scions (cultivars) and result in early fruit production for farmers. The goal of this project is to develop organic horticultural practices with selected rootstocks in an effort to promote earlier bearing and consistent tree performance, and longer tree life for organic and limited resource farmers. 

The objectives of this proposal are:

1) to determine the optimal application rate of organic nitrogen (fish emulsion) that enhances tree establishment, growth, early flowering, and fruit production in the orchard, 

2) to determine if flame cultivation can be used effectively, compared to glyphosate (RoundUp) application, for weed control to promote pawpaw tree establishment and growth in orchards, and 

3) to determine if seedling rootstocks derived from two pawpaw cultivars (‘PA-Golden’ and ‘Sunflower’) will enhance tree survival, growth, flowering, fruit set, and fruit size of four pawpaw cultivars (PA-Golden, Sunflower, Shenandoah, and K8-2) compared to rootstock produced from commercially available mixed seed. 

Plantings for this objective will be established at six sites in three states (KY, WV, and NC), including sites at Kentucky State University (KSU), the University of Kentucky (UK), and four farms.


Education and Outreach Plan

Research findings will be presented at state and national scientific meetings like the Kentucky Academy of Science, Kentucky State Horticulture Society, Kentucky Nut Growers Association, Association of Research Directors national meeting, American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) regional and national meetings, KSU Annual Pawpaw Field Day. All planting sites will serve as demonstration orchards in the future for pawpaw production for limited resource and organic farmers. Presentations will also be made at the KSU Third Thursday Agricultural Workshop, which is a SARE supported workshop. Scientific journal articles will be written and submitted to internationally regarded journals, such as HortScience and HortTechnology. Additionally, project results will be placed on the KSU pawpaw web site, the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) database, video cassettes, CD-ROMs, extension bulletins, newsletters of organic grower organizations, and email, providing national and international access to this information. 


Questions about pawpaws? Contact Sheri Crabtree at or telephone # 502-597-6375  Pawpaw Program questions? Contact Dr. Kirk Pomper at:

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Updated January 15, 2009