THE 2024 CATALOGUE IS HERE!!! And it's our best yet. Featuring over 550 crops — 100 of them new — this is our biggest catalogue ever. NOTE: After delaying most shipments due to the extreme cold weather, we are working through the backlog now. Thank you for your patience!
Jerry Lehman's "Field West" American Persimmon Breeding Mix
Origin: Terre Haute, Indiana
Improvement status: Breeding population
Seeds per packet: ~8
BOTANICAL SAMPLE - NOT GERMINATION TESTED
Life cycle: Perennial
Among a certain group of native tree crop enthusiasts, the late Jerry Lehman is a legend. At his farm in Terre Haute, Indiana, he spent decades working to improve persimmons and pawpaws, and his top varieties are considered among the very best of both fruits. He worked with both native and non-native persimmons. Our friend Alex Tanke collected seed from select trees at Jerry's farm in the fall of 2023 and we are very excited to be offering these extra special seeds for the first time.
Here's Alex's account of what you'll be getting:
"To my knowledge, this is the best seed for breeding persimmons for the north that can be collected. I harvested this seed from the best 20 individuals (with small representation from a wider selection of interesting individuals to keep diversity high) from Jerry Lehman's "Field West" breeding orchard. Jerry was the expert in American Persimmon before he passed in 2019 due to a tractor accident. "Field West" contains quality females, bisexual-flowering individuals, and a healthy population of select males bred by Jerry. These select trees produced the pollen for this seed. Additionally, this year was an off year for persimmons in Lehman's orchard which made the heavy annual bearers shine for evaluations prior to collection. All of the fruit containing this seed dropped before September 27th (early for persimmon), so this population can be expected to produce similarly early-dropping offspring Female parents were selected for delicious rich flavor and pleasant aftertaste, no astringency (I am very sensitive to astringency), smooth texture, holding together upon ground impact, productivity, and good size. Some of the early standards including 'Prok', 'Yates', and 'I115' are represented, but other interesting parents include two 13% kaki, vigorous, early, hybrid seedlings."
GROWING TIPS (from Alex): "Persimmon seed requires stratification [EFN stores seeds moist in the fridge, so they are currently undergoing the requisite stratification]. For planting in the north, my personal experience teaches that you must provide high fertility, good watering, and good weed suppression to get at least 6” of healthy top growth the first year, or they will die during the Northern winter. 1.5ft is a good target. I have achieved 3.5ft in very fertile soil in the first year with 8 ft by year two. You must get the seed to awaken before the last frost date by either fall planting, early spring planting, or placing in a germination chamber at 85F for 7 days, targeting planting 1-2 weeks prior to the last frost date. While young, I highly recommend selecting for thick stems and low bushiness (which are related to large fruit), low/no stem dieback on year two and after (do not fertilize with nitrogen after July or dieback will happen to nearly all seedlings), and medium/high vigor. For small batches with ample land on the heat zone 4/5 boundary, I would recommend planting in the final location on 9”x9” spacing with 3 rows per bed expecting 1 in 100 to be a good all-around, well-adapted tree, worth keeping in a breeding population, less if you are in hardiness zone 4b. Transplanting from a nursery bed works too. Just transplant in the spring before leaf-out about 1 month before the last frost date. Planting is worth attempting in 4a if the heat zone is near 5."
SEED STORAGE (from Alex): Persimmon seed needs to breathe during stratification and should not be dried out. Persimmon seed requires stratification for germination. Barely any moisture is required for stratification; the peat mixed with the seeds for stratification should feel cool to the touch but not wet. If you can squeeze out even a drip of water from your peat, you have moistened WAY too much. In refrigeration, the stratification bag should have very small mist-like moisture condensation present inside of the bag; large droplets will cause molding and are signs of excess moisture.