Who Do The Jujube?

That’s right, the UPS guy brought a box yesterday, containing the three bare-root jujbe trees I bought a few weeks ago from Roger Meyer out near San Diego, a consensus expert on this not-so-well-known fruit if ever there was one.

This morning I dug three small holes behind our back garden, on semi-level spots along the slight slope running down to the river. I spread the roots over a mound of soil and filled in the rest, leaving the grafted area above the roots exposed to dry air. Tamped down the soil a little to make good root contact, and watered the little 2 to 3-foot trees in place. I was going to show you a picture of it, but the photos I took were exceedingly boring, even by my standards.

Jujube fruit vary in size depending on variety, but are generally oblong and bigger than a cherry yet smaller than an apricot. They are green at first, then some varieties turn yellowish, and then develop reddish splotches. They have been cultivated into perfection for about forever in China, where many varieties were developed that produce fruit for drying, like dates, which the Chinese pretty much love.

According to a history of the jujube in the U.S., over at Texas Gardener, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official imported several varieties from China at the turn of the last century, excited because he thought they’d catch on like gangbusters, apparently. However, USDA didn’t realize they’d imported pretty much all jujube drying varieties, instead of fresh-eating varieties. But they’d allowed the American public to believe these were for fresh eating. At the time, the public was not impressed.

Fast forward to the 1990s and we’d begun developing and importing some of the better fresh-eating varieties, which some have described as tasting like a very sweet apple. I believe I’ve purchased three of those, but I’ll probably have to wait three years or so for proof, because they might take that long to fruit. (When you plant a fruit tree, you are taking a positive action for the future – yours or someone else’s or both.)

Here are the descriptions of the varieties I just planted, from Roger’s tree list:

SO: A tree of most beautiful shape. At each node of the stem the branch decides to go off in a different direction. Hence, very zig zag branching. Tree seems to be somewhat dwarfed. Fruit is early.
GI 7-62: From the Chico Research Program. Fruit is round but flattened to an unusual shape. Excellent, sweet taste. A real surprise! It was named “Chico” by Paul Thompson of the California Rare Fruit Growers.
SHANXI LI: NEW! First time offered in US. Extremely large fruit with great flavor.

Jujube trees really need full sun to do their thing, and the only place left here on the One Acre Ranch was the narrow strip of land running from the back garden down to the river. Only 100 feet or so at the upper end of this strip was available for planting, because any lower than that and we risk the odd river flood. You can supposedly plant these trees as close as 4 or 5 feet apart, but I spaced ours closer to 20 feet. They stay fairly small, and probably will stay less than 15 feet tall for some time. Some varieties do better with another type growing nearby to serve as a pollinator, so we should be good in that department.

Our main fig crops pretty much run heavy through the month of July, and one reason I wanted to try to grow jujubes is that they generally provide ripe fruit from the end of July through September. My three varieties include one each of an early, mid-season and late variety, so I’m hoping for a long harvest season. Eventually.

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This entry was posted in Fruit.

10 Comments

  1. tigerbull70 August 6, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    Do we need at least two JUJUBe trees for pollination and bear fruits?

    How big the tree would nursery ship? How much the cost of tree and shipping charge?

    How many years one has to wait until the tree grows big enough bears fruits?

    I live in Oceanside, CA. how far Roger Meyer from us, can be pick the tree there?

    Business hours, credit card acceptable?

  2. bdunn August 6, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    tigerbull,

    Do a Google search for Roger Meyer and jujube and it will answer most of your questions. I don’t know if he has a walk-in nursery.

    I have three varieties and planted them very early in the spring of 2011. None was more than 2 feet tall and all three bore a few fruit. All of them flowered this spring but only two fruited, and only a couple of fruit each. I think they were getting themselves established root-wise. I don’t think they require pollinators.

    The three are now between 4-5 feet. I expect it will take them a couple more years to start producing a few dozen fruit.

    I am reluctant to give out Roger’s email address without his permission, but if you have specific questions for him I will forward them to him.

  3. rafael February 23, 2013 at 1:42 am #

    Hi Bob,
    i am a newbie jujube enthusiast, and would like to know how your jujube’s are doing. Did you say your jujubes bore fruit for you on that same year you planted them(2011), even if they were just ~2 feet tall?
    that sounds so exciting! I just spent too much(per my wife) ordering jujube’s online, and hopefully she could witness them fruit on the same year–this year. Else i’d be getting earfuls on a daily basis the entire summer, as she’d be pointing out the duds in our backyard, yikes!

    just thought i’d ask– would you have pictures of your jujubes you could post here, or that you could email me ?
    reply or no reply, thank you so much for your time, really appreciate you sharing your journal.

    rafael

  4. bdunn February 24, 2013 at 7:44 am #

    rafael, We did have a few fruit on each of the three trees I planted in that first year. But last summer we had a horrible drought, and even though jujubes are good in the heat and all, they were stressed along with everything else and so only had a couple of fruit apiece and put on very little growth.

    This will be their third spring. One tree is about eye-high, the other two are probably 4 feet tall. We’ve had a fair amount of rain over a very mild winter, and one of the trees already is starting to sprout. I have high hopes for them this year.

    However, I’d suggest you set your wife’s expectations low. My belief is that under good conditions they will fruit early in their lives and grow well. But it might be better to under-promise and over-deliver, right?

    I’ll post some pictures once the budding process starts this spring. Happy growing!

    • rafael March 6, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

      unfortunately, i haven’t met a wife(or anybody’s) who’s amenable to have low expectations. Have you? Just kidding..
      as it has played out, i seemed to have over-promised, and seemed slated to under-deliver, hahaha!

      we live in las vegas, nv, where summers are brutal– maybe 2nd to none(or maybe just to phoenix), so i guess i will have to pad them around with bags and bags of miracle-gro, and provide ample water, short of getting the roots water-logged.

      bought more than ten varieties this spring, and will probably just cull or transplant those which under-deliver, and let the performers stay. Currently, only lang, ant admire, and norris are budding. My so and shanxi-li are still snoozing, i hope they are still alive

      at any rate, thanks for your reply, and will be waiting for those picture updates!

  5. Stephanie November 5, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    Hello,
    Would anyone have information regarding success of growing a thriving jujube in San Diego – 92104? I know they will pretty much grow anywhere, but want to have good success with fruit size, flavor, texture, etc.
    Thank you!

  6. qi yu August 17, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    Hi, I live in North Kansas. Could anyone tell me if jujube tree can survive in Zone 5b? Thank you!

    • bdunn August 18, 2014 at 10:51 am #

      I have no personal experience with this, but have read from more than one source that jujube trees can withstand winter temperatures of down to -28 degrees Fehrenheit (28 degrees below zero). I am guessing even North Kansas rarely if ever gets that cold…

  7. Dirkphilly September 25, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

    Hi Bob:
    I came across your website when I Googled Jujube Tree. I emailed Mr. Roger Meyer yesterday and got a response from his wife Shirley.The sad news was that Mr. Meyer died last year and his wife no longer sells Jujube Trees.

    • bdunn September 26, 2016 at 4:26 am #

      I’m sad to hear that, Drikphilly, but greatly appreciate you letting us know here.

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