How to grow jujube?

Seed Availability

Seeds are now available at our seed store.

Description

Small or medium sized subtropical tree, can grow up to 40ft. Trees are deciduous and will defoliate during cold months. Flowers bloom in summer, followed by fall ripening fruit. The hard “nut” inside the fruit contains two seeds. Trees fruit without cross-pollination, but seeds are then usually not viable.

Hardiness

They can stand extremely hot desert temperatures, as well as cold temperatures to -25F. In the United States, Jujube’s have fruited as far north as Seattle and New York.

Growing Environment

Jujube’s are fairly adaptable, but should be grown in full sun. Trees do require a bit of winter chill to set fruit, making their culture in year-round warm tropical climates tricky. They are very tolerant of drought, but moderate to heavy watering should be provided during growth season to ensure the best fruit. Fertilizing is generally not necessary.

Propagation

By seed, but commonly by grafting and budding.

Uses

Eaten fresh, also candied, and used in desserts. The fruit also has a long history of medicinal uses.

Native Range

Native to China, where it has been cultivated for over 4000 years. Not grown commercially in parts of the United States, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

Related Species

Rhamnaceae
Ziziphus joazeiro
Jua
Ziziphus jujuba
Jujube
Ziziphus mauritiana
Indian Jujube

CHINESE JUJUBE

Though the first jujube trees grown were in Syria, Chinese records show that the jujube has been cultivated in China for 4,000 years. Most locations with warm long summers can support growth of these fruit trees. The jujube is a medium size tree, up to 25 or more feet, with glossy green, deciduous foliage. It thrives best in warm, dry climates; Fruit is generally dark brown when ripe, oval in shape, 1 to 2 inches diameter, with a single stone. Fruit will dry if left on tree, similar to figs. Skin is smooth and thin until drying of fruit occurs, then becomes wrinkled. Pulp is dryer than in most fruits.

The Chinese Jujube is a very versatile tree, yet underused. The wood is strong, durable and used for making musical instruments and crafts. Birds, horses, cattle, sheep and goats eat the fruit. The blossoms secrete copious nectar, which makes a good tasting honey. The fruit and leaves are made into a tea for sore throats. Dried seeds contain spinosin, which is a hypnotic and used for insomnia.

Cultivation

Given adequate heat and sun, the trees will thrive without any special care. Any location with full sun and well-drained soil will support growth of jujubes. The Chinese Jujube should not be planted in the shade of other trees. They will often fruit in the first year. They are also tolerant of high salinity, alkalinity, drought, temperatures below freezing, root exposure from erosion or roots being deeply covered by blowing sand. The Chinese Jujube is self-fertile so only one tree is needed for fruit-set. Whip-grafting can be done from one year old, immature stock.

Harvesting and Seed Production

The green fruits will not ripen after picking so it is best to wait until the fruits begin to turn yellow. They are fully ripe when brown or red and begin to shrink and wrinkle while still on the tree. The seeds are smaller than a date seed and do not always grow true to the parent tree. Seeds should be cleaned of flesh, dried under household conditions and can be stored indefinitely. Before planting, the hard shell of the seed coat should be cracked to hasten germination. Most Chinese Jujube cultivars in the U.S. are grafted or budded onto a thorny rootstalk which produces many suckers from the roots.

Pests and Diseases

Very few pests or blights affect the Chinese Jujube with a minor exception of the Caribbean fruit fly which will attack the fruit. A very serious virus, “broom”, has infected areas of China and Korea necessitating care when purchasing stock from those countries. The Chinese Jujube’s tendency to send up suckers from their roots can be controlled by heavy mulching, mowing or hoeing.

Cooking and Nutrition

Chinese Jujubes can be eaten when they reach the brown stage on the tree as the sugar content increases as it turns color. It can also be eaten before it is fully ripened, when the pulp is still crisp. It can be eaten in many forms, as a fresh fruit (including the peel), sun-dried or preserved as jelly or jam. Compared to the nutrients in an apple, the Chinese Jujube has five times as much phosphorus, twice as much potassium and ten times as much ascorbic acid.

What Is Jujube Fruit? Nutrition, Benefits, and Uses

Jujube fruits have long been used in alternative medicine to treat conditions like insomnia and anxiety.

Animal and test-tube studies indicate that the fruit may offer impressive health benefits for your nervous system, immunity, and digestion.

Rich in antioxidants

Jujube fruits are rich in several antioxidant compounds, primarily flavonoids, polysaccharides, and triterpenic acids. They also contain high levels of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant as well (4).

Antioxidants are compounds that can prevent and reverse damage caused by excess free radicals (5).

Free radical damage is thought to be a major contributor to several chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers (5, 6, 7).

Due to their ability to fight free radicals, antioxidants may offer several health benefits.

One animal study found that the antioxidant activity of jujube flavonoids helped reduce stress and inflammation caused by free radical damage in the liver (8).

In fact, most of the benefits of jujube fruits are credited to their antioxidant content.

May improve sleep and brain function

Jujubes are widely used in alternative medicine to improve sleep quality and brain function. Emerging research suggests their unique antioxidants may be responsible for these effects.

Jujube fruit and seed extracts have been found to increase sleep time and quality in rats (9, 10).

Also, the fruit is often prescribed by alternative medicine practitioners to decrease anxiety.

Furthermore, animal and test-tube studies indicate that it may improve memory and help protect brain cells from damage by nerve-destroying compounds (4).

Research in mice even suggests that jujube seed extracts may help treat dementia caused by Alzheimer’s. That said, the seeds themselves are not usually eaten (11, 12, 13, 14).

More human research is needed to fully understand how jujube extract may affect your brain and nervous system.

May boost immunity and fight cancer cells

Jujube may boost immunity and fight the growth of cancer cells.

One test-tube study noted that jujube polysaccharides, which are natural sugars with antioxidant properties, may fend off free radicals, neutralize harmful cells, and decrease inflammation (15).

Decreased levels of inflammation and free radicals can help prevent chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes (16).

Another study found that jujube lignins, a type of fiber with antioxidant properties, promoted the production of immune cells and increased the rate at which these cells neutralized harmful compounds (17).

In a rat study, jujube extract boosted immune cells called natural killer cells, which can destroy harmful invader cells (18).

Jujube fruit is also rich in vitamin C, which is thought to have powerful anticancer properties.

One mouse study found high-dose vitamin C injections killed thyroid cancer cells (3, 19).

Plus, test-tube studies have found that jujube extracts kill several types of cancer cells, including ovarian, cervical, breast, liver, colon, and skin cancer cells (20, 21, 22, 23).

Researchers believe that these benefits are primarily a result of the antioxidant compounds in the fruit. Still, most of these studies were conducted in animals or test tubes, so more research in humans is needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn.

May improve digestion

Jujube’s high fiber content may help improve digestion. About 50% of the carbs in the fruit come from fiber, which is known for its beneficial digestive effects (1, 2, 24, 25).

This nutrient helps soften and add bulk to your stool. As a result, it speeds up the movement of food through your digestive tract and reduces constipation (26, 27, 28).

What’s more, jujube extracts may help strengthen the lining of your stomach and intestines, decreasing your risk of damage from ulcers, injury, and harmful bacteria that may reside in your gut (29).

In one study, jujube polysaccharide extracts strengthened the intestinal lining of rats with colitis, which improved their digestive symptoms (29).

Finally, the fiber in jujube may serve as food for your beneficial gut bacteria, allowing them to grow and overtake harmful bacteria (24).

Summary Jujubes are rich in antioxidants. Animal and test-tube studies have found that extracts from the fruit improved brain function, immunity, and digestion. However, more research in humans is needed.

What Is A Jujube Tree: Tips For Growing Jujube Trees

Looking for something exotic to grow in your garden this year? Then why not consider growing jujube trees. With proper jujube tree care, you can enjoy these exotic fruits right from the garden. Let’s learn more about how to grow a jujube tree.

What is a Jujube Tree?

Jujube (Ziziphus jujube), also known as the Chinese date, is native to China. This medium-sized tree can grow up to 40 feet, has glossy green, deciduous leaves and light gray bark. The oval-shaped, single-stoned fruit is green to start with and becomes dark brown over time.

Similar to figs, the fruit will dry and become wrinkled when left on the vine. The fruit has a similar taste to an apple.

How to Grow a Jujube Tree

Jujubes do best in warm, dry climates, but can tolerate winter lows down to -20 F. (-29 C.) Growing jujube trees is not difficult as long as you have sandy, well-drained soil. They are not particular about soil pH but do need to be planted in full sun.

The tree can be propagated by seed or root sprout.

Jujube Tree Care

A single application of nitrogen prior to the growing season helps with fruit production.

Although this hardy tree will tolerate drought, regular water will help with fruit production.

There are no known pest or disease problems with this tree.

Harvesting Jujube Fruit

It is extremely easy when it comes times for harvesting jujube fruit. When jujube fruit has turned dark brown, it will be ready to harvest. You can also leave the fruit on the tree until it fully dries.

Cut the stem when harvesting rather than pulling the fruit from the vine. Fruit should be firm to the touch.

The fruit is best stored between 52 and 55 F. (11-13 C.) in a green fruit bag.

Jujubes: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties

By Edward T. Hager, M.D.
Gardeners who visit my backyard garden-orchard in Thousand Oaks, California, usually ask why I have so many jujube trees. My answer is easy: No other tree gives me so much pleasure for so little effort.
The jujube (pronounced juh-ju-bee or juh-juh-bee) is a member of the buckthorn family, or Rhamnaceae. Its botanical name is Ziziphus jujuba, and its common names is Chinese jujube, or sometimes, just jujube. Though the plant’s origin is probably Syria, it was distributed throughout much of the Mediterranean region at least 3,000 years ago and today is most widely grown in China.
This deciduous tree grows 12 to 15 feet tall, although trees are known to reach 30 feet. (The largest known jujube tree in the United States, at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens, measures over 40 feet high and wide.) Over time trees develop a graceful, gnarled shape. Most varieties have thorns on young branches. Its leaves are 1 to 2 inches long, leathery, and shiny bright green. Tiny yellow-green flowers are about 1/4-inch wide.
Fruits ripen in late summer to early fall. Many people enjoy them fresh, after they turn from green to brown, but before they dry and shrivel. At that stage, their flavor and texture is something like a very sweet apple, but not as juicy. Unlike most fruits, jujube will dry on the tree after ripening. Although dried jujubes are not as sweet as true dates, its sugars do concentrate, and the flavor is very similar. Dried fruits require no preservative, and they last “forever”–I’ve pressed several growers on this point, and all agree–though humidity in some regions may slow drying and limit the life of dried fruits.

Where to Grow Jujube
Jujube grows throughout most of the southern half of North America. For best crops, the tree needs a long growing season and hot and dry weather during ripening. About the only parts of the United States where jujube can’t grow are in the North (USDA Zones 5 and colder) and the Gulf Coast where summer rain and humidity prevent optimum fruiting.
Trees thrive in most of California, from interior valleys in the north to the Sierra foothills, and throughout the southern region of the state. In Oregon, the region surrounding Medford is well suited. In the southwest deserts, trees grow well from Palmdale in California to Las Vegas and in Arizona from Bisbee to Phoenix. Most of Texas from Houston north to Muskogee, Oklahoma, is jujube country, then east to the Atlantic seaboard and as far north as Trenton, New Jersey.
Although average winter minimum temperatures between -5° F (zone 6) and -15° F (zone 5) are the likely hardiness limits, trees have survived -25° F.

How to Grow
Plant jujube in a location that receives full sun and has well-drained soil with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH. Once established, the roots are very tolerant of salinity, drought, or standing water. During periods of extended drought, the tree will likely survive but without a crop. Also, irrigations after a brief drought may cause fruits to split.
Plant bare-root trees in January or February or whenever plants are available. Amending soil is not necessary. Spread roots over a cone of soil in the center of the planting hole, and adjust the final height until it is equal to or slightly above the original soil grade. Trees often bear some fruit the first year. Bare-root trees cost from $20 to $40.
Trees require very little pruning or training. The best time to prune for repair or shaping is late winter or early spring before the tree breaks dormancy. Fruits are borne on long-lived spurs, much like apples. Root suckers can be a nuisance, but most gardeners consider them a minor one.
The jujube is virtually disease-free, and most insects ignore it. In desert regions, you’ll probably have to compete with birds for the fruit, and Texas root rot sometimes occurs.

Kinds of Jujube
All jujubes are self-fruitful, meaning you only need one to get fruit, and all contain a pointed seed.
‘Li’ is the one to plant if you have room for only one tree. Fruits are abundant, round, 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, and sweet. It matures early, a great benefit in short-growing-season areas.
‘Lang’, compared with ‘Li’, is taller, and the fruit is a bit more elongated or pear-shaped, about 3/4 inch in diameter and 2 inches long, and has thicker skin. The fruit is a bit less sweet than that of ‘Li’ and best eaten dried. Branches are nearly thornless.

Other Varieties
‘Sherwood’ fruits are smaller than ‘Li’ and ripen later. They keep well in the refrigerator up to 6 weeks. Discovered in the southern Louisiana woods, the tree has an attractive, narrow, weeping shape.
‘Silverhill’ (also called ‘Tiger Tooth’) produces elongated fruits that are excellent for drying.
‘So’ produces high-quality, round fruit on a zigzag-shaped tree.
‘Shui Men’ (or ‘Sui Men’) is a highly regarded midseason variety. Its fruits taste good fresh or dried.
‘GA 866’ is noted for its remarkably high sugar content.

Where to Buy Trees
Trees are available in nurseries in the West and Southwest, both as bare-root in winter or in containers during the summer. You can also order jujube trees from several mail-order nurseries.
Also, online at https://paradisenursery.com/pr…

Jujube Candy
To make glazed jujubes, halve and seed the ripe (but not dry) fruit and place in equal parts water and brown sugar (just enough to cover the fruit). Bring to a moderate boil and simmer for 20 minutes, let cool, then boil for another 20 minutes. Drain the fruit, and add rum and/or vanilla to taste. Then place the halves, cut side down, on a cookie sheet in either a food dehydrator or oven at 180°F for about 24 hours. Dry to taste, and store them in the refrigerator in airtight bags.

Jujube: Chinese Date in New Mexico

Guide H-330
Shengrui Yao
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University

Author: Assistant Professor, Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde, New Mexico State University. (Print Friendly PDF)

Origin

Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba Mill), also called Chinese date, red date, or Tsao, is native to China. It originated in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, and has been cultivated in China for more than 4,000 years. Botanically, it is derived from its wild relative sour jujube or wild jujube (Z. spinosa Hu). In ancient times, people selected and cultivated sour jujubes with bigger fruit, and it gradually became the cultivated modern jujube species (Z. jujuba). There are still semi-cultivated sour jujubes like ‘Tiger Eye’-big round sour jujube and Yanjishan big sour jujube, which are popular in Beijing and Shandong Province, China, respectively.

Jujubes belong to the Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn) family. The jujube can be easily confused with the Indian jujube (Z. mauritiana Lam), which is a tropical plant of the same genus, whereas the Chinese jujube is a cold-hardy deciduous plant. Although it varies with location, jujube usually starts to leaf out in April or May, blooms in June to July, and matures in late August to October. The dried fruit of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) looks similar to that of jujube, but botanically they are not related to each other.

History

Jujubes were first introduced to the U.S. from Europe by Robert Chisholm and planted in Beaufort, NC, in 1837. In 1876, G.P. Rixford brought jujubes from France and introduced them to California and nearby states. Most of the early imports were from seedlings. USDA Agricultural Explorer Frank N. Meyer introduced the first group of commercial cultivars to the Plant Introduction Field Station at Chico, CA, in 1908. Later, they were distributed to other USDA stations in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Florida. Scientists evaluated those jujube introductions until the 1960s, and a few selections were developed at Chico, CA. Shortly after the importation, Meyer and other scientists realized the potential of jujubes in the U.S., especially in the Southwest where sunshine is plentiful, summers are hot, and the climate is arid. In 1947, L.F. Locke from the Southern Great Plains Field Station at Woodward, OK, wrote, “This jujube is little known, but is highly dependable fruit of high food value”.

In New Mexico, jujube trees can be found growing in diverse locales around the state. There are 50-year-old sour jujube and regular jujube trees (cultivars unknown) on the NMSU Las Cruces campus (Doña Ana County, elevation 4,000 ft). There are jujube trees in the South Valley area outside Albuquerque that were planted in 1928. A homeowner in Cliff, NM (Grant County, elevation 4,500 ft), has jujubes near his house, and they have been producing a prolific crop every year for the past 30 years. Other scattered trees in Las Cruces, Los Lunas (Valencia County, elevation 4,856 ft), Albuquerque (Bernalillo County, elevation 5,312 ft), Tucumcari (Quay County, elevation 4,816 ft), and Alcalde (Rio Arriba County, elevation 5,700 ft) are all growing and producing well.

Tree

Jujube is a deciduous ornamental fruit tree 15 to 30 ft in height with very hard, strong wood. Branches are zigzagged with paired spines in young trees. Depending on the cultivar, tree growth habit varies from broad spreading canopies to very narrow and upright.

Leaves

Buds and Shoots

Jujube shoots are different from other fruit species. Vigorous new shoots of peach, apple, and grape can have branches in the same growing season, and the branches have structure similar to the primary shoot. Jujube has four types of shoots: primary (extension) shoot, secondary shoot (side branches), mother bearing shoot (fruiting spur), and fruit-bearing shoot (branchlet) (Figure 1). There are three kinds of buds for jujubes: main buds, secondary buds, and dormant buds.

There are two buds, one main bud and one secondary bud, at each node of both primary and secondary shoots and at the apex of mother bearing shoots. The terminal main bud of the primary shoot will keep growing each season to expand the tree canopy, and the lateral main buds (at the base of each secondary shoot) normally do not sprout and instead become dormant except with strong stimulation. The secondary buds on each node of primary and secondary shoots are early-maturing buds, which produce secondary shoots or fruit-bearing shoots.

The jujube primary shoot is always accompanied by secondary shoots (side branches), or the secondary shoots are part of the primary shoot and later diverge in function. The primary shoot elongates every year to expand the tree canopy. The secondary shoot acts as a base for the fruiting structure, does not extend in length, and withers back after two or three years. At each node of the secondary shoot is a mother bearing shoot (fruiting spur), which is a compact spur that grows approximately 0.04 inch (1 mm) and produces 2 to 5 fruit-bearing shoots each year. The fruit-bearing shoot (branchlet) is thin, flexible, deciduous, and 4 to 8 inches (10-20 cm) long; it bears flowers and fruits at its axils. The primary shoot, secondary shoot, and branchlet are zigzagged and spiny.

Flowers and Fruits

Unlike apples or peaches, jujubes do not have big, showy flowers. The flowers are fragrant, pale greenish-yellow in color, and small, with diameters ranging from 0.15 to 0.30 inch (4-8 mm) (Figure 2). Flowers can appear singly or in a cluster at each leaf axil. Jujube’s flower cluster (inflorescence) is a cyme (Figure 2) with up to 13 flowers depending on the cultivar and its position on the branchlet. Jujube flower buds initiate, bloom, and develop to mature fruit within one growing season, which is unique and different from other tree fruit crops. Jujube bloom lasts for several weeks, making jujubes good nectar plants.

Figure 2. Jujube flowers: A. a simple cyme, B. a large cyme, C. a half-opened flower, D. a fully opened flower. (Photos by Shengrui Yao).

Jujube fruit is a drupe with one pit (stone) in the middle containing up to two seeds. Its fruit derives from its ovary and the nectar disk. Fruit size varies from thumb-size to golf ball-size depending on the cultivar. The fruit shape can be round, oblong, oval, ovate, obovate, oblate, apple–like, or abnormal shapes.

Cultivars

Currently, there are 700 to 800 jujube cultivars in China, including fresh eating, drying, multipurpose (good for both drying and fresh eating), candied, and ornamental. Cultivars for drying, including multipurpose cultivars, formerly dominated and accounted for 90% of the jujube production in China. Now, with the selection and introduction of new fresh eating cultivars, plus the abundance of cold storage facilities, fresh eating cultivars are gaining popularity in China.

In the U.S., jujube cultivars are very limited. They include Frank Meyer’s cultivars, cultivars recently imported from China or other jujube-growing countries, those released from the USDA Chico breeding program, and a few selections from seedlings across the country. Research from China indicated that quite a few regional dominant cultivars are self–fertile with no need for additional pollination; some cultivars can self-pollinate and set fruit, but cross pollination will improve the fruit set and fruit yield. A few cultivars are sterile without pollen, and a pollinizer cultivar and pollinating insect activity are required for these. Common pollinating insects include honeybees, houseflies, and ladybugs. As for the cultivars in the U.S., their self-compatibilities are not clear yet. For that reason, it is best to plant two or more cultivars instead of a single cultivar.

‘Li’: Popular commercial cultivar imported directly from China by Frank Meyer. Large, round fruit up to 3 ounces, mid-season, fresh eating cultivar. Good quality.

‘Lang’: Popular commercial cultivar imported directly from China by Frank Meyer. Fruit is big and pear-shaped and good for drying. Some fruit may split if it rains at mature season.

‘So’: Frank Meyer’s cultivar. Beautiful ornamental tree with zigzagged branches. Medium-sized, round fruit with balanced sweet/tart flavor. Good for fresh eating and drying. Suitable for landscaping and home gardeners.

‘Shuimen’: Frank Meyer’s cultivar. Medium-sized, elongated fruit with big pit, good for fresh eating and drying.

‘Sugarcane’: Small- to medium-sized, round to elongated fruit with excellent quality. Fruit is extremely sweet and crunchy on a spiny tree. Good for fresh eating and drying. It could be the offspring of Chin zse tsao. This cultivar has low fruit set at Alcalde, NM. Pollinizing cultivars and bee activity are necessary to ensure good fruit set.

‘GA866’: From USDA Chico Plant Introduction Station’s jujube breeding program in California. Excellent large fruit with very high sugar content. Fruit is elongated and pointed at the far end.

‘Sherwood’: A seedling from Louisiana. Firm fruit with excellent quality. Trees are upright and narrow. Late-maturing cultivar. Good for long growing season areas.

‘Honey Jar’: A recent importation from China by Roger Meyer (no relation to Frank Meyer). Round, small fruit with excellent quality. Very sweet and crispy. Excellent for fresh eating. Tree is precocious and fruits during planting year or grafting year.

‘Shanxi Li’: Became popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s in China. Now one of the major fresh eating cultivars in China. Medium- to large-sized fruit with good eating quality. Mid-season maturity. Tree is precocious and productive.

‘Sihong’: A new importation from China by Roger Meyer. Good for fresh eating and excellent for drying. When dried, fruit has fine wrinkles on its surface. Mid-season maturity.

‘Abberville’: Tree is prolific and loaded with small fruit. Fruit quality is mediocre. Branchlets and fruits remain on tree for 1 to 3 weeks after defoliation, making it a good ornamental tree.

NMSU’s Alcalde Science Center imported over 30 cultivars directly from China in 2011, including famous traditional cultivars, recently selected fresh eating and drying cultivars, and several early season and ornamental cultivars. As of 2012, they are still under USDA quarantine, but the best-performing cultivars will be released to the public after several years of evaluation under New Mexico conditions.

Culture

Most commercial jujube trees are grafted on sour jujube (Z. spinosa) because of its seed availability and stress tolerance. Tongue–whip grafting and bark grafting are popular methods of jujube propagation. Jujubes can also be propagated through root suckers if the mother plants are from root suckers. If the mother plants are grafted trees, the suckers are only good as rootstocks. Softwood cutting is also possible for jujubes in a moist environment.

Precocity and Tree Life Span

Jujube trees are very precocious. They bear flowers the same year as planting or grafting, and some cultivars can even bear some fruit. Most cultivars will produce a few fruits in the second year. After 4 to 5 years, jujubes will have a reasonable yield. A mature jujube tree can have 40 to 100 lb or more of fruit depending on tree size and culture management. Jujube trees can keep producing in commercial orchards for 50 years or more. The ‘Jujube King’ is over 1,000 years old and is still producing fruit annually in Shandong Province, China.

Soil Requirements

Jujubes can grow and set fruit well in a wide range of soil conditions, from sandy to loam to clay, and from acidic to alkaline (pH 5.0-8.5). Jujubes can survive in barren soils. Most New Mexico soils should be suitable for jujube production.

Irrigation and Fertilization

Jujube plants are quite tolerant to drought. For a premium fruit set and yield, though, jujube trees need to be irrigated in New Mexico’s arid weather conditions.

There is limited research on jujube fertilization. Trees will survive with little or no fertilizer, but for commercial production, fertilizer applications are usually necessary. Do not fertilize newly planted trees until they are well-established.

Pruning

In general, jujube’s training and pruning are simple, but there are some basic rules to follow. “One cut stops, two cuts sprouts” is a saying unique to jujubes. Unlike apple and peach, if you give a one-year-old jujube shoot just one cut in the middle, no bud will grow under that cut. To force a main bud to sprout below a cut, the secondary shoot must be removed below the cut. Jujubes are light-demanding (full sunshine) plants. Pruning them annually will benefit the tree and improve the fruit set and fruit quality.

Harvest

As the fruit begins to mature, fruit color changes from dark green to yellow-green, known as the creamy, white mature stage. As maturation continues, brown/red spots develop at the petiole end (where the fruit joins the stem) or randomly in the middle of the fruit. The color further changes to half red/half creamy, and eventually becomes fully red/brown, known as the fully mature stage. People often compare firm jujube fruit texture to that of a crispy apple. Several days after fully red, fruit texture starts to soften and wrinkles appear on the surface.

Fruit maturity is not uniform. Fresh eating cultivars can be marketed from the white mature stage until they are fully red but still firm. Fresh fruit harvested when first ripe can be stored at 40° F (5° C) for two weeks or more without losing quality. The best time to harvest drying cultivars is when they are fully red. In New Mexico’s arid climate, fruits can be harvested when they start to wrinkle or can be left hanging on the trees for a while after wrinkling. In humid areas, fruits must be harvested when they are fully red in color and dried as soon as possible to avoid yeast or mold infection. Manual harvest is preferable for fresh eating cultivars. For drying cultivars, growers in China lay tarps below trees and then shake the trees or use long poles to dislodge fruits. Mechanical harvest using trunk shakers may be applicable for production of large acreage of drying cultivars.

Pests, Diseases, and Disorders

In China, the dominant diseases for jujube are witch’s broom and fruit splitting. Witch’s broom is caused by a type of phytoplasma bacteria (Candidatus Phytoplasma ziziphi) and can destroy an entire orchard. The worst fruit splitting, resulting from heavy rainfall near harvest time, can ruin the entire season’s crop. Peach fruit moth (Carposina niponensis) is the number one pest for jujubes in China.

It is easy to produce jujubes organically in New Mexico because, so far, jujubes are disease- and pest-free in the state. Fruit cracking is sometimes observed in the ‘Lang’ cultivar at Alcalde if it rains in early September. Most of the time in this climate, though, cracks will remain dry without developing yeast or fungal infection, and thus will not really affect fruit quality.

Fruit Nutrition and Uses

Jujube fruit is recognized as a nutritious food and important traditional medicine in China, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia. Jujubes are richer in vitamin C, sugar, bioflavonoids, edible cellulose, and minerals than other fruit species. Soluble solids content ranges from 20 to 40% in fresh mature fruit. Carbohydrate content in dried jujubes can reach as high as 70 to 85%. Fresh jujube fruit contains 200 to 500 mg of vitamin C per 100 g fresh weight, while apple, pear, and peach have 1 to 8 mg/100 g fresh weight. Jujubes are also rich in cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which is an important “second messenger” in many biological processes in the human body.

Thus far in the U.S., jujubes have been considered more of a novelty than a specialty crop, with fresh and dried production mainly for home and local markets. However, the fruit can be used in many different ways. Dried jujubes are a nutritious snack and can replace raisins and dates in baking. Recipes have been created for jujube cake, jujube butter, candied jujubes, and jujube syrup. In China and Southeast Asia, besides being eaten fresh and dried, jujubes are also processed as candied fruit, smoked fruit, juice, jam, wine, mixed beverages, powders, and tea. Dried fruits are also cooked in porridge or broth, and are further processed into a paste for moon cake filling. As jujubes become more familiar and popular in the U.S., many value-added products with jujubes will be created.

Jujube Butter

6 pints jujube pulp
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
10 cups sugar
1/4 pint vinegar
1 lemon

Boil fruit until tender in sufficient water to cover. Drain, then run cooked fruit through a sieve or colander to remove the skin and seeds. Add remaining ingredients and cook slowly until thick. If you want to can the mixture, please follow safe canning procedures (see the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, available from http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html).

Jujube Cake

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 cups dried, minced jujube
1 cup water
Bring these to a boil, then set aside to cool.

2 cups wheat flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sift these together, then add to the wet ingredient mixture and combine. Bake in your favorite cake pan at 325° F for around 20 minutes until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.

Jujube Paste

Cook desired amount of dried jujubes in water for 10 minutes or until soft. Make sure to not overcook the fruit, which might turn sour if overcooked.

Puree in a food processor, then sweeten with sugar to taste. Work the puree into smooth paste. The paste can be used as a spread or as filling for confections such as cookies, desserts, and steamed buns.

Conclusion

Late-season startup, precocity, cropping reliability, nutritional benefits, and mild flavors make jujube an excellent edible ornamental and backyard tree. It also has great potential for commercial production in New Mexico. The large American-Asian food market and the medicinal food market are familiar with jujubes and are ready to consume them; however, it may take some time for Americans to become familiar with this exotic fruit. Growers can start with small acreage, and expand their operation to a bigger acreage with more diversified cultivars as the market grows.

Liu, M. 2006. Chinese jujube – Botany and horticulture. Horticultural Reviews, 32, 229-298.

To find more resources for your business, home, or family, visit the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences on the World Wide Web at aces.nmsu.edu.

Contents of publications may be freely reproduced for educational purposes. All other rights reserved. For permission to use publications for other purposes, contact [email protected] or the authors listed on the publication.

New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.

Printed and electronically distributed May 2012, Las Cruces, NM.

How to Grow Jujube Trees

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Sick and tired of planting the same old fruit and veggies? Why not try something a little more exotic, such as a jujube tree? But what is a jujube tree and how to grow it? Not to be confused with jujube candies, the jujube tree, also known as Chinese dates, is a medium sized trees that produces oval shaped, single-stoned fruit which look like dates, but taste like apples! The tree can grow up to 40 feet in height and has glossy, green leaves with fruits that start off green, and, after left on the branch, will dry up and darken. Keep reading to find out how to grow jujube trees in your garden and enjoy its delicious fruit!

How to Grow Jujube Trees in Your Garden

Planting Jujube Trees:

  • These trees prefer warm and dry climates, but can tolerate temperatures as low as -29C!
  • Make sure to use sandy, well drained soil and choose a sunny spot.
  • The tree can be propagated by seed or root sprout.
  • Plant the seed or the root sprout directly in the ground, and amend with sandy, well drained soil.
  • Mulch around to keep moisture.
  • Be sure to plant in a location will little wind and lots of sun.

Care:

  • Apply a single application of nitrogen prior to the growing season to help with fruit production.
  • Water regularly.

Harvesting Jujubes:

  • Once the fruit has turned dark brown, it is ready to harvest!
  • Alternatively, you can also leave the fruit on the tree until it has dried, so that is it more like a date.
  • Cut the stem when harvesting rather than pulling the fruit from the vine.
  • Store the fruits between 11-13C in a green fruit bag.

So now that you know how to grow jujube trees, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to planting!

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Jujube Trees

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Jujube seedlings were brought into the United States in the 1830s but very few improved jujube selections were available until Frank N. Meyer, researcher at the Chico, CA., research station began importing commercial cultivars in 1908. The Chinese cultivars were given simple names like Mu, So, and also the Li and Lang that are important commercial jujube tree producers in California, New Mexico, and Arizona, mostly desert areas where jujubes thrive for fresh jujube products and dried jujube fruits.

Jujube trees are one of the rare, exceptional fruit trees that will grow well in salty soils and are salt water tolerant when planted in coastal areas. Jujubes also grow well in extremely alkaline soils, such as in soils with high pH’s of 8, like those in West Texas. Very good yield results come from Eastern and Southern U.S. plantings. Few fruit trees are as easy to grow in such wide, variable conditions as jujube trees that are so cold hardy they have thrived in states like Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana for over 100 years.

Some mature jujube cultivars may reach 30 feet tall, but pruning is preferable to make large crop production and easier harvesting possible. In Israel and Mexico jujubes are pruned back to 7-8 feet where single tree fruit production can reach up to 100 pounds per tree.

Jujube trees are necessarily grafted, because the seed on most cultivars are sterile, and unless root cuttings could be obtained from the original mother tree in China which is impracticable and virtually impossible doing that is unproductive. Grafting jujubes is performed on seedling rootstock to clones of preferred cultivars.

The jujube wild seedling rootstock produces small fruits in clusters by the hundreds that taste sour and widely sought after, as a medicine in China, and the fruits produce viable seed, used to produce more rootstocks. These plants are excellent pollinators, even though most jujube cultivars are self fruitful, and horticulturalists recommend planting two different cultivars for cross pollination for the maximum fruit production.

Jujube flowers are fragrant, small and green, and fruit production usually begins in July and extends into October in Georgia. The fruit becomes tasty, sweet and commercially ready to harvest when it changes from green to yellow in color, and then the picking of the jujubes begins after the red blotches begin to appear. The sweetest fruit forms when allowed to ripen on the tree and then to turn completely red, but the grocery store shelf life is a very short, few days when picked in the yellow-red blotch stage, and in the South the jujubes should be picked before turning completely red in color. Very few animals will bother jujubes, if the fruits are picked before the red stage is completed, and if left on the tree to ripen in the South, the high concentration of sugar that is formed within the jujubes attracts fire ants, bees and yellow jackets who will make the harvesting painful to you, if you fight them for the fruit.

If jujubes are picked at the proper stage of yellow-red blotches, then afterwards, the sugar development intensifies, and can dramatically increase the sugar content to 85%, especially in some cultivars like the cultivar called, “sugar cane”.

The wild seedling jujube rootstock is covered with thorns, some shaped like hooks and others like dagger thorns, the Lang and the Sherwood jujubes are thornless. Thorns on most cultivars of Jujube trees will usually disappear on jujube trees as the trees age, and the heavy bark increases in size and dislodges the thorns.

Jujube trees in the Western States and have been commercially productive for over 50 years, and the production records in China show that the jujube tree called, “Jujube King” that is growing in a southern province is over 1000 years old.

Propagating jujubes

Rootstock

Rootstocks used in northern China are Chinese jujube and its direct ancestor sour jujube (Z. acidojujuba). Sour jujube is not permitted entry into Australia. In Western Australia, jinsilin is used as a rootstock.

Suckers

Jujubes are known for having prolific offshoots or suckers, mainly on lateral roots with diameters of 5-10 mm. The use of suckers is a common method for propagation of jujubes.

Jujube tree with root suckers used for propagation

Seed preparation for rootstock

Fully matured jujube stones and kernels (seeds) can also be used to grow rootstock seedlings. Jujubes have a hard stone containing two, one or no seeds, depending on the cultivar. For better germination the seeds should be removed from the stone before planting.

Rootstock fruit should be collected or purchased in autumn. The fruit should be soaked in water for several hours then the pulp removed until the stones are clean. The clean, dry stones should be kept in paper bags until stratification. Jujube seeds can germinate without stratification, but stratification makes germination easier and more reliable.

The stones should be stratified in moist sand for 3–4 months at 2­–5°C before sowing. The stones are mixed with wet sand at a 1:3 ratio by volume and can be stored in pots or plastic bags. The seeds (removed from the stone) need to be soaked in water for 1–2 days before sowing.

Treated seeds are sown in early spring at a depth of 2cm, 10–15 cm apart within the rows and 40–50 cm apart between rows. Approximately 75–150 kg of stones or 20–30 kg of seed is needed per hectare. Seedbeds can be covered with plastic film to promote germination.

Rootstock seedling management

Although jujubes are drought tolerant, adequate water supply in the nursery is essential. It has been reported that maintenance of pre-irrigation moisture of 80% in the nursery soil has been helpful in the development of over 98% Chinese jujube seedlings (to be used for budding).

Seedlings should be fertilised regularly from when they are 7–10 cm tall to enhance growth. Once the plants reach 60 cm or so in height, trunk diameter growth can be encouraged by pinching the growing tip with your fingers and removing the lower branches to make grafting easier. Some of the seedlings should be ready for grafting after one year of growth and all plants should be ready after two years.

Scionwood

Due to jujubes unique shoot structure most of the side branches are not thick enough to be used as scionwood, making the primary shoots the most often used scionwood source. Each primary shoot only has 5 to 8 nodes that can be used for grafting. Due to the lack of scionwood, a single jujube bud piece is often used for grafting. One-year-old shoots are the best scionwood; however shoots up to three years old can also be used for grafting. Scions from 1–2 year old extension shoots have been very successful.

Scionwood Storage

Waxing the scionwood is recommended to keep the wood from drying out if it is not going to be used for a month or more or if shipped from another location. Store the waxed or original scionwood (with some wet paper towels to keep them moist) in the refrigerator until grafting. If the scionwood is collected locally and will be used within 2 to 3 weeks, waxing is not necessary.

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