'Iowa White' Peach
Origin: Postville, Iowa
Improvement status: Cultivar
Seeds per packet: ~5
BOTANICAL SAMPLE - NOT GERMINATION TESTED
Life cycle: Perennial
We received these unique, super cold-hardy, white-fleshed peach seeds from Jack Knight, of Postville, Iowa. In 1978, Jack purchased a peach tree at a Master Gardeners spring sale in Waterloo, Iowa. It was sold as an Iowa peach and Jack was told the Amish in Iowa had kept this strain going.
The general history before that is well known, as the Spanish introduced peaches to the Americas in the 16th century and the beloved fruit slowly made its way north for centuries, all the way to the southern midwest. For most of this time, peaches were grown mostly from seed, which makes sense as grafted trees can be harder to keep alive, especially in cold, northern climates. And seed-grown peach trees are more likely to produce good peaches than, say, seed-grown apples or pears. We're told these seeds will largely grow true to type.
Jack planted the tree from Waterloo next to the Oneota Community Food Coop in Decorah, Iowa, and seeds from that tree soon made their way around Decorah and northeast Iowa, with surviving trees being well adapted to Decorah's even colder climate. One of the towns they ended up in was Postville, Iowa, which is Jack's hometown. 'Iowa White' has now been grown in Postville for at least 30 years and for several generations. Jack went to Postville during the summer of 2023 and harvested fruit (and seed!) from multiple trees. We're grateful he's made them available to EFN and we're excited to offer them to you. There have been some other common names associated with this type of peach, but we are going with 'Iowa White'.
The fruit are medium to small, and white-fleshed with a pink blush. They ripen in September in the upper Midwest. They are not 100% cold-hardy to zone 4, so Jack recommends routine planting of new seedlings to ensure the flow of peaches even when some older trees succumb to winter cold-snaps when that polar vortex dips down to our area. In the face of climate change, the ability of these peaches to survive further north is changing all the time. Jack says, "Be a part of this history and let's adapt this strain of peach to even more places!"
Jack Knight is a classic hippie-homesteader kind of guy. A self-proclaimed "citizen of the world", he took the "think globally, act locally" moniker seriously. He lives ten miles from where he was born and has taken it upon myself to learn everything he can about the ecosystem of the bioregion in which he was born. Jack has been a student and practioneer of horticulture, forestry, agriculture, and native prairie plant establishment, as well as a fruit and nut tree breeder and seed collector for over 50 years. He was a forester for decades and has traveled across the US establishing new tree plantings. He's also been an organic farm certifier, an enviromental activist, and a member of many county, regional, and state boards of directors. Now retired, he also spends some of his free time volunteering at EFN co-founder Dusty Hinz's agroforestry research farm in Spring Grove, Minnesota. Jack fights the good fight! And we are happy to have him the team collecting tree seeds for distrubution through EFN. Thanks Jack!
GROWING TIPS: Keep seeds refrigerated until planting in spring. Plant in a deep pot (at least 8 inches) and keep seeds protected from rodents. During the first couple years, keep plants well watered, especially during hot times of year. Once the plant reaches a foot or more in height, it can be planted in its permanent position. We strongly recommend you cage the plant or otherwise protect it from animal predation during its first few years. Peaches can grow to maturity in a surprisingly short amount of time, even just three or four years.
NOTE: Jack forgot to take photos, so the photo with the pile of halved-fruit comes from the great experimental fruit grower Miekal And, of West Lima, Wisconsin, from his population of 'Iowa White'. The photo is still a great representation of 'Iowa White' though. Miekal's nursery is called Driftless Sacred Grove. The photo of whole fruit with the quarter comes from David Sliwa, another great experimental fruit grower who hails from Decorah, Iowa, from his population of 'Iowa White'.