Travis & Diana Callahan
What could be prettier than the Mayhaw fruit ?
( photo courtesy of Billy Craft, Woodworth, LA )
Questions and answers about Mayhaw
What is the purpose of this site ?
For the past thirty years I have been a Mayhaw grower and during that time I have received many requests for information regarding the Mayhaw. This is my attempt to explain this little known and wonderful fruit.
What is a Mayhaw ?
The Mayhaw resembles a small crabapple. The tree is in the Rosacea family and the genus Crataegus. The Mayhaw is a Hawthorn tree and it bears its fruit in May, hence the name Mayhaw. The Mayhaw fruit ranges in colors from pink to dark red, and one or two selections are yellow. Some trees such as the Super Spur have fruit that are red and pink. The size of the fruit averages from one half to about one inch in diameter.
fresh from the orchard.
(Photo courtesy of Billy Craft, Woodworth, LA)
Where are Mayhaw fruit grown ?
The Mayhaw is found in the Southern United States from East Texas to the panhandle of Florida. The heaviest concentrations of native mayhaw trees are found in Grant Parish, Louisiana , near Winnie, Texas and in the Pearl River swamps of Mississippi. Fruit growers in other areas are testing mayhaw to determine exactly how far north the tree will bear fruit. Commercial mayhaw orchards are found as far north as Eldorado, Arkansas where our friend Paul McLaughlin operates Paul's Mayhaw Orchards .
The tree will actually survive 20 degrees below zero , but the primary problem is that the mayhaw is subject to blooming very early in the Spring and many times the blooms are lost due to frosts and freezes. Trees that have this characteristic are referred to as being " low chill trees ". Several people are breeding mayhaw trees in order to develop trees that will bloom later in Spring.
How are Mayhaw trees propagated ?
Since the Mayhaw trees are native trees they are capable of reproducing themselves from the seeds that are left on the ground when fallen fruit rots, and from the seeds in the fruit that are carried away by birds and animals. Many Mayhaw trees are planted by nature in low areas where the seed are washed from trees on hillsides in rainy periods and deposited in the low areas where the seed is sheltered from the elements by leaf mold and debris . In spring the seeds germinate and produce new Mayhaw trees. Where this occurs the trees are usually in groves in the low areas.
Several years ago people began selecting trees that were found in the wild and exhibited traits that were desirable, such as large fruit and late blooming. These trees were cloned by grafting and cuttings and are referred to as selections.
Many growers also began to grow seedling trees in order to search for trees that are better than average and these are referred to as chance seedlings. Several of my best trees were seedlings that Diana grew in containers twelve years ago. When a tree is found to have better than average qualities, it is usually named by the person growing the tree and is thereafter referred to as a selection.
There are now several nurseries that are producing these quality trees in several areas. I am evaluating several selections from the nursery of Billy Craft in Woodworth, Louisiana . Billy , along with the late Elmer Langston of Pollack, Louisiana and Glen Melcher of Tioga, Louisiana are the authors of a fine book entitled Mayhaws A guide to orchard production and propagation. Billy and Glen are involved in a very intense research program to develop trees for amateur and commercial growers by cross breeding.
A small part
of the Billy Craft nursery , Woodworth , Louisiana
( photo courtesy of Billy Craft )
Part of an earlier Callahan Mayhaw orchard with 174 trees
How is the Mayhaw fruit harvested ?
There are several ways that the fruit can be removed from the trees. Some growers harvest by placing fabric under the trees and shaking the trees , much like the harvest of pecans. Some trees have fruit that falls with strong winds and other selections have fruit that is a little more difficult to remove. Some trees drop their fruit over an extended period of time requiring more trips to the orchard to harvest. One of the qualities that I prefer is a tree that drops all of its fruit over a short period of time.
The Late Mr. J.S. Akins harvesting
under the parent Super Spur Mayhaw tree in 1984.
This is fruit from the first shaking of the tree that year and totaled 34 gallons.
Total harvest from this tree in 1984 was 86 gallons. J.S. was an active fruit grower until his death in 2008.
Photo courtesy J.S.Akins Sibley, Louisiana
How long before my trees begin to bear ?
Most mayhaw trees fruit at a rather young age when they are grafted , since the grafting process uses an established rootstock ( seedling mayhaw) which is usually about two years old. The grafted tree will usually bear some fruit within the first two years after grafting. The seedling tree generally takes about four years to begin bearing. I have found that the mayhaw tree purchased from a nursery is usually three years old. If you are in a hurry, buy a grafted tree. Some selections are earlier bearing than others.
Mayhaw one year old in field
( photo courtesy of Billy Craft Nursery )
An interesting trait of a Mayhaw tree is that about the time the tree is ten to twelve years old it sometimes does what we call the Mayhaw Twist
How much fruit will my adult Mayhaw tree produce?
This is probably one of the hardest questions to answer. I have seen trees such as the Super Spur parent tree in Sibley, Louisiana that have borne nearly one hundred gallons of fruit in a good year. The parent Super Spur was a chance seedling lifted from the wild and transplanted to his orchard by my friend the late J.S. Akins . The Super Spur is a good tree for the coastal regions , but is a very early bloomer.
Most grafted trees will produce some fruit in the first year after planting with an increase every year until they reach a peak crop after about ten years. The amount of that peak crop is determined by several factors such as where they are planted and the care they have recieved. Mayhaw is like all fruit trees and really needs adequate water during the entire growing season.
I had a five year old seedling tree that produced two gallons of fruit in its first year to bear. As the mayhaw tree reaches its full size at about 12 years of age, more of its energy goes into making fruit instead of vegetative growth. Instead of making more branches it develops more fruiting spurs and therefore more fruit. A rule of thumb for me is that in the case of a seedling, the tree will produce very little fruit till its fifth year and then produce one gallon of fruit for each year of age until about twelve years of age, or twelve gallons at twelve years of age. After that more fruit is produced depending on many factors such as soil fertility, available moisture, insect pressure, late spring freezes, etc.
The oldest trees that I am observing in my local area are 25 years old and each produced about 20/30 gallons of fruit this past season. I know that there are trees that bear much heavier. Remember that the statements made on this page are only from my personal experience.
3- 05-13 The North Maxine Mayhaw blooms for the first time, as did the South Maxine tree. Note the many buds on this single branch. Bloom ended 3-30-13. Harvest is expected on June 1, 2013. This is the latest blooming tree that I know of and warrants your consideration. This is one of two Maxine trees that I planted three years ago.
These two trees replaced two Red Majesty trees which were the only mayhaw trees I have ever seen that I considered too disease prone for me. They were removed at four years of age .
First fruit of the South Maxine . The North Mayhaw is at the same stage.
The two trees were planted May 21, 2010
We always hope for the latest bloom date possible. There is a twelve week period from bloom to harvest. The later the bloom the better the chance of blooms not being lost to late spring freezes. Some mayhaw bloom as early as January. The Maxine trees are just now beginning their fifth year since planting and will have a good crop this year. A Super Spur planted here in this area would bloom in January or February with an early March harvest.
Classey Mayhaw will harvest in the first week in May. My Red Champ tree was harvested during the first week of May 2015 . The Maxine trees will be harvested in the first week of June.
The Maxine Mayhaws at one third bloom on 3-13-14
Fruit Load turning slowly from Yellow to Red on May 21, 2014. Harvest in a few more weeks.
Maxine on May 21, 2014. Four years since I planted them in my orchard on this date in 2010.
The North Maxine at 7 years.
North Maxine at 50% bloom on March 1, 2018
Mayhaw bloom is far heavier when I have at least 350 chill hours .
Five year old Maxine
Maxine is ready to harvest when nearly all the fruit is deep red in color.
Pictures courtesy of Billy Craft
This is the Red Champ Mayhaw, another beautiful tree bred by Billy Craft. This one has joined the two Maxine in my orchard.
Picture courtesy of Billy Craft
Billy Craft is a Master Mayhaw breeder and is working with many test trees at his place.
Here are two more of his test trees .
The picture of the W-34 test tree is not out of focus. The very super shiny red fruit is reflecting the morning sunlight in this picture.
Two Mayhaw Maniacs, Gordon Casselman of Jeanerette, LA on the left and Billy Craft.
Behind them is the W-34 test tree.
One limb of the little tree named Hope 17. Billy Craft creates hybrid mayhaw trees by cross breeding two mayhaw trees with exceptional qualities.
of Billy Craft
This is a second picture of the Hope Mayhaw, bred by Billy Craft. This baby tree is two years old and I have never seen a mayhaw tree with this many fruit per inch of limb. This and other Billy Craft test trees must now prove themselves over a several year test period before Billy will ever propagate more and let the trees leave his orchard.
Note: Both Maxine and Red Champ trees are available in limited numbers at the Billy Craft Orchard in Woodworth, LA every year in October.
My Favorite Mayhaw tree
Young Classey Mayhaw tree in full bloom
If mayhaw blooms are sprayed every ten days with Rally 40 WSP Fungicide the fruit will not be ruined by Quince Rust. There are several other fungicides approved for Mayhaw including Serenade .
Classey in early Morning May 1, 2014 on the day of harvest.
Many Mayhaw tree varieties are very early bloomers and Classey blooms in early February in most years.
Classey, my definition of Pretty Fruit and a true native tree
Very heavy load of Classey Fruit
Classey, at nine years since grafting, is a compact and rounded top tree.This tree is in the orchard of my friend Gordon Casselman. This tree was grafted by Gordon from wood from my Classey tree at my former home. I moved due to the flooding caused by Hurricane Rita in 2005 and settled on a much smaller property at a higher elevation eleven miles away. The purchaser promised that I could return in the winter to harvest graft wood to replicate the Classey Mayhaw and The Gem, my two favorite mayhaw trees. Later when I returned the purchaser had removed every one of the 67 fruit trees .
The Deep South became the Deep Freeze in South Louisiana. January 7, 2014 started a three day period of below freezing temperatures.
I am never concerned with the mayhaw trees being harmed by low temperatures since the Mayhaw can tolerate some very cold temperatures. The only concern each winter will be later in the spring when the trees are in bloom and then you do not want a late spring cold snap.
Poor little Red Champ Mayhaw
I prefer to loose stake a young mayhaw tree that is a little taller than I prefer it to be. I use six foot tomato stakes in four directions and soft rags to allow some limited movement. Once the tree is a little older I go to a single iron rod and then remove that at two years since planting. Note the lower section protected from the rabbits by a product named tree wrap.
What pests and diseases will I have to contend with in my Mayhaw Orchard ?
The Mayhaw is a close relative of the apple tree and will have the same pest and disease problems . I have placed a link at the bottom of this page to a homeowners fruit tree care page courtesy of the Stark Bros. Nursery. There are many products to do insect and disease prevention , but always follow label guidelines . Some of these chemicals could hurt you.
Also in the links section look at Doctor Pysner's beautiful color page of Mayhaw Pests and Disease Control. Here he lists approved products for Mayhaw. If you sell any fruit you need to see that fruit listed on the label of anything you spray on the trees.
How are Mayhaw fruit utilized ?
There are many ways that the fruit can be used, the most common is in the making of jelly. The jelly that is produced is believed by many to be the best jelly that can be made. I have seen people selling homemade jelly at $32.00 per quart. Tourists in the New Orleans area purchase the jelly at even higher prices. There are mail order sources in several states.
are several wineries in North Louisiana that are making
Here at home we make our own wine and mayhaw is one of our favorites. Other uses of the mayhaw are in syrup, butters, and pies.
Where can I get recipes and fruit ?
I am including a few recipes here that Diana uses to process the fruit and make jelly and syrup. There is a great little handout available from the Louisiana Dept. of Agriculture , Extension Service entitled Mayhaw : Out of the Swamp and into the orchard. There are more recipes there as well as some interesting information on Mayhaw. I have added a link at the end of this page for this fine publication from LSU.
There are people selling mayhaw fruit in several states and the product is available as fresh fruit or frozen juice. Fresh fruit can be frozen for at least a year and juice will last four years in the freezer. We are members of the Louisiana Mayhaw Growers Association and many of our members sell mayhaw fruit.
Click on the the link for the Louisiana Mayhaw Association and then click on "where to buy" for suppliers of fruit and juice.
How do we process our own mayhaw juice ?
The procedure below can be used to process your juice and some people strain the juice through cheese cloth. We use either our Squeezo strainer
The Squeezo does a great job and provides several cups of pulp to make Mayhaw Cream Cheese Pies which is my favorite pie. The Squeezo will also strain the seeds out of tomatoes and handle several other kitchen tasks.
or our Mehu-Liisa steamer - cooker.
The steamer does a great job and clean up is easy. This also is a fine cooker for corn and other foods.
Or our Basic Strainer
This is an excellent strainer for small batches of fruit.
Diana's Mayhaw Recipes
The Gem was the smallest mayhaw fruit we ever grew. It was a tiny deep purple fruit with the darkest juice I ever saw. When I re-located to my new place I could no longer find anyone propagating The Gem so I was unable to plant one here I opted instead to plant two Maxine and a Red Champ in my limited space . I have grafted a Classey Mayhaw onto a seedling that I am presently growing in the orchard.
We harvested our second crop of Maxine fruit on June 2,
2014 and have made the another batch of Maxine Jelly. I
am very happy with the result. This year (2017) we intend to make Mayhaw wine again.
Classey Mayhaw Jelly has been one of our favorites for over 25 years
Making Mayhaw Juice
We usually process two gallons of fruit at a time to create six quarts of juice. Put two gallons of washed Mayhaw fruit in a large stainless pot. Add 6 quarts of water which will cover the fruit by no more than 1 inch or less. Boil Mayhaw till tender which is usually about five minutes. Turn off the heat and cover the pot for one hour as the fruit will continue to steam. The water in the pot is the juice base do not discard.
then skim off the fruit and run the fruit through our Squeezo using the smallest of the three
screens. The seeds pass through the Squeezo and are discarded in
the compost bin.
We pour the squeezed juice into the cooking pot. We then run the juice through a small
mesh strainer till clear of pulp. We call this gourmet juice
since we use the minimum water in the processing
You may need to add a few ounces of water to get exactly six quarts of juice. We do not add any other additional water. Nor do we amend the recipe by adding apple juice to "stretch" the mayhaw juice.
One gallon of mayhaw juice provides four batches of jelly of a little more than 3.0 pints each. This yields one case of 12 pints. The small amount of extra jelly goes into the fridge to use on those biscuits tomorrow morning.
our Squeezo with the berry screen in place to strain the
cooked fruit also yields an added bonus of 8 cups of mayhaw
pulp for the Mayhaw Cream Cheese Pies at Christmas time (or
Diana's Traditional Mayhaw Jelly
Sterilize 4 pint jars per batch of jelly.
Put 4 cups (one quart) juice in a glass or stainless steel pot . Bring to a boil.
Add 1 package powdered Sure Jell Pectin
Bring to a rolling boil 3 minutes
Add 5 cups sugar, bring to a boil for 1 minute.
Fill bottle to 1/4 inch from top, cap with new seal lid not quite tight .
After filling the bottles, place in boiling water bath (with just a slight and steady boil) with the water level at least one inch higher than the bottles and allow ten minutes boiling time. Carefully lift the bottles onto a towel and cover with a second towel to cool slowly. At this time you may hear a snapping sound as the bottles begin to seal.
I have always wondered what mayhaw jelly would taste like with less sugar or sugar free. In the traditional jelly recipe you will notice that there are 4 cups of Mayhaw juice but five cups of sugar.
Are we tasting the true taste of the mayhaw fruit or mostly sugar? I must say that I love the taste of traditional Mayhaw jelly and have grown mayhaw for the past twenty nine years. But I always wondered if I could find a low sugar recipe that would have a lesser amount of sugar to allow the true mayhaw flavor to be prominent. A jelly that I would be proud to share with friends and family. A jelly for those who need to limit sugar in their diet due to diabetes.
Experiments with so called "low sugar" pectins were basically failures. Several years ago I saw an ad and I decided to order some Pomona Universal Pectin and try the low sugar jelly using their product. After all these years I took that product off the pantry shelf and made a batch. Nothing I know of can produce as good a mayhaw as the traditional recipe. If one still wants to have a good mayhaw jelly, but with lower sugar due to health concerns, my new recipe is below . This one removes 60% of the sugar.
Low Sugar Mayhaw Jelly Recipe
Using Pomona Universal Pectin
4 cups Mayhaw juice into a large stainless or glass pot.
Thoroughly mix 4 teaspoons Pomona Universal Pectin and 2 cups of sugar and set aside.
( calcium is supplied in the pectin package)
Bring juice to a boil.
Add the sugar and
pectin into the juice and stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes to
Return to a boil
Remove from heat
Fill jars to 1/4 inch from top, tighten lid just snug. Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes to complete process.
Note : Always sterilize bottles, lids, and rings and keep them in hot water just before filling.
Click Here to visit the Pomona Universal Pectin Home Page
I have now tested several "no sugar" Mayhaw Jelly recipes. With a lot of research and five batches created with the most popular non-sugar "sweetners' and all thrown away, I have decided that there are no good no sugar Mayhaw recipes in my opinion.
I avoid the use of aluminum pots with most foods. This is because I have observed aluminum pots becoming very shiny inside after processing tomatoes or high acid fruit. This is caused by aluminum leeching out of the pot . Somehow I do not feel that would be a healthy thing.
Once again remember that everything on this web page is my personal opinion.
The lids in the above process are not tightened firmly because you will observe air leaving the bottles during the boiling water process. After the lids snap which indicates sealing is complete and the jelly has cooled I turn the rings to just snug although technically you would not need the ring if the bottle is truly sealed. Somehow I feel it is best to keep the rings on. The rings can be re-used but always use a new seal lid.
1 cup Mayhaw juice
½ cup sugar
½ cup white Karo (to prevent jelling)
Rapid boil for 18-20 minutes.
(Try this on vanilla ice cream, waffles etc.)
Mayhaw Cream Cheese
½ cup sugar,
1 cup Mayhaw pulp
1 tablespoon cornstarch
8 ounces Philadelphia Cream Cheese
Mix pulp and sugar. Mix the cornstarch and cold water. Add to the heated pulp mixture. Add cream cheese and beat until smooth. Cook until it thickens and pour into crust. Chill until cold before serving . Add topping below.
Mayhaw Jelly Whipped Topping
Mix 2-4 tablespoons of mayhaw jelly with prepared whipped topping or whipped cream of your choice. It is especially delicious on the mayhaw cheesecake.
Courtesy of Diana Vincent Callahan
Years ago in a mayhaw conference in Bridge City, Texas a Chinese doctor spoke to the group touting the heart benefits of the Crateagus family of trees. Crateagus is a primary heart medicine in China.
Now to be perfectly clear I am not a health care professional and cannot in any way tell you that Mayhaw is a medicine. I have seen a good write up on the benefits of crateagus on the WebMD site under the search term "Hawthorn".
Let me say here that mayhaw is my favorite tea and I think that it would be possible to make mayhaw leaf tea a commercial endeavor. Here is our simple mayhaw tea recipe.
When pruning limbs from your mayhaw trees be sure to collect the leaves rather than throwing them away. Strip the leaves and put them into a brown paper bag and place in a cool dark place such as a closet .
In about three or four days the leaves will be dry. Fill a one quart zip lock bag as full as you can get it. Put that full bag of leaves in a glass or stainless cooking container with two quarts water and bring to a boil.
Take the pot off of the heat and cover and let sit on the stove overnight. The next day bring the mixture back to a boil and then allow to cool. Strain the liquid into a two quart pitcher. Add enough water to fill the pitcher and then add sugar to your taste preference. The taste of the tea is not hard to define. Old fashioned root beer.
Other Mayhaw Recipes
From The LSU Publication " Out of the swamp and into the orchard". See link below.
Over the course of the thirty years of our mayhaw exploration we have met many people who share our love of this fabulous native fruit tree.
Recently we met Professor Barry & Caroline Ancelet of rural Scott, Louisiana.
Their mayhaw grove is dedicated in the memory of their friend Robert Helm, a cousin of Caroline, who shared their passion for the mayhaw harvest over many years.
Caroline Ancelet with a small portion of the 2017 harvest of 103 gallons of mayhaw fruit, each one a memory
of her cousin Robert Helm
Mayhaw trees are blooming in late February. The trees were led by Red
Champ and Classey on February 15. On February 23 the first
Maxine began blooming with the second beginning bloom on this date, February 27, 2018.
is very obvious that Mayhaw trees do far better with at least 300 hours
of winter chill. The bloom today is the heaviest I have seen since 2015
and I am looking forward to a heavy crop.
Other Mayhaw Links
We are proud members of The Louisiana Mayhaw Association now in it's 24th Year.
To Join the Louisiana Mayhaw Association or to buy trees and mayhaw products click on the link below. On this page you will find a printable application and where to buy.
Louisiana Mayhaw Association
Mayhaw Technical Page
Doctor John Pyzner's Mayhaw Pests and Disease Control
Mayhaw, Out of the Swamp and Into the Orchard
One of the papers on the use of hawthorn as a medicinal plant
Some other friends who are Mayhaw Growers in West Louisiana and Eldorado, Arkansas
The Mayhaw Man of Singer, LA
Paul's Mayhaw of Eldorado, AR
Click to send e-mail
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