Persimmon Breeding in the Upper Midwest

Hi, Everyone,

Outside of my own tree crops exploits, I’m working with the Savanna Institute to improve a handful of woody perennials to be suitable for the upper midwest. One of our targets is the American persimmon, and before I write more about what we’re doing, I want to make an ask:

We need to harvest fruit this year for seed. A lot of it, around 800 pounds or so from named cultivars of 90 chromosome D. virginiana. Due to our breeding protocols, we’ll need to keep track of which fruit came from which tree. We can supply harvest labor and pay for the fruit. Unfortunately, Don Compton’s orchard isn’t available for us to harvest and neither is Jerry Lehmans. I’m looking for suggestions of who to contact who would have large enough quantities of named cultivars to harvest.

Ok, now the quick gist of the breeding part:

We’re currently raising funds in order to sequence both the 90 chromosome and 60 chromosome persimmon genome. The reasons for doing this are two-fold: 1.) To provide more clues as to how the 90 came about (some people think it was brought over the land bridge by paleo-man while others believe it was a genetic mutation caused by the recession of the Laurentide ice sheet) and to see if they are actually two different species 2.) Be able to implement genomic prediction that will link phenotypes to genotypes. In doing this, we’ll be able to screen for certain genetic markers in the first leaf to determine whether the tree contains valuable traits. One of our main goals is cold hardiness and extending the range, but we’re also excited to start looking for markers that have already been identified in D. kaki for qualities such as astringency and whether the tree is dioecious (and we can tell which sex) or monoecious.

It’s all super exciting and I have more to say. But for now: I need help identifying a 90c persimmon orchard that has mature named cultivars. We can go to a couple different orchards if they are close enough together.

Thank you!



I can’t help, but very cool.

1 Like


1 Like

One factor to keep in mind. Persimmon doesn’t comes true to the parent and most times is open pollinating so the seeds can be any parents if there are multiple male trees in the orchard. I am doing a control crossed the last couple of years by have Jerry’s Lehman Nikita’s Gift offspring male cold hardy to -31F so far and crossed it with all my American persimmon cultivars. Right now I have 4 offsprings second year Prok X Jerry’s Lehman Nikita’s Gift offspring male. Their leaves definitely has Asian characteristic in them. This year the Jerry’s Lehman Nikita’s Gift offspring male Open pollinating my multi grafted American persimmon tree with H-118,H-120, Meader, Morris Burton #3, and so on.

You may contact Cliff England at to see if he has seeds this late falls.



Where will the sequencing be performed and on which hardware?

That is a lot of seed but the Claypool/Jennings orchard is always full of fruit that is not collected. I usually make several trips there each fall as it is only 90 miles. The owner Mr Jennings would be happy to donate fruit if collectors do no damage , leave no mess. A list of trees from which fruit is wanted would help. Why so much seed? 800 lbs of fruit will yield about 20% seed so 160 lbs of seed , many many thousands of seed.


I would like to hear more on persimmon breeding projects , I have my own going for 15 years already and some interesting offspring but nothing special. I am collecting seed for my next generation this year. Each generation takes about 10 years. this will be my last effort. I started 30 years ago but travel for work , tree disease and nursery problems held up progress until lately. I might have some trees that breeders might find interesting but they don’t produce useful fruit here in central Indiana.


I go to Grimo’s annually to u-pick persimmons from their orchard. It’s north of the border, and they charge per lb, but the cultivars that have worked in Niagara are all there. If I could possibly be of assistance, i’m game. How much seed from each source/cultivar do you need?


Red Fern Farm ( has a bunch of cultivars and runs a u-pick. Maybe you can contract with them for this year’s harvest.


@Elizapples have Tom Wahl and Kathy Dice save ‘Lena’ for you. They also have a lot of Prok and they have a double grafted Geneva Long / Osage in front of their home. He’s got mostly Prok…

I intended to message you once you’re “out of jail” meaning you have to wait to type to messages & stuff like that; ‘Lena’ is as Great as Morris Burton which MB has genetic traits already having been found that are ‘profoundly’ non-astringent. I can’t direct you to proof but @jrd51 might/can or Will-discuss…


You might look at the experiences of John Gordon with northern growing. As has been discussed on this site, getting a persimmon that can ripen early enough is a trick.


Diospyros species have been in the western hemisphere prior to several geologic north America - Europe collisions in the mid-Atlantic.


Here are the 5 Prok crossed with Jerry’s Lehman Nikita’s Gift offspring male on second leaf.

For Asian persimmon. I got 15 Tam Kam crossed Chocolate.

Here are the Jerry’s Lehman Nikita’s Gift offspring male cross with my 12 yrs old multi grafted American persimmon tree that fruited and ready to collect seeds this fall.



Morris Burton #3


Just bark grafted this 3 Morris Burton #3 this May for future cross with Rossyanka male.


Curious why you can’t access Jerry Lehman’s orchard? Cliff England @KYnuttrees might be able to help make that happen.


That should be a question to the family, I think, Steve. …I don’t want to come off as portraying rude, to you, not at all. That’s personal conjecture…

1 Like

Let’s not confuse markers with genes.

A marker is a short nucleotide primer sequence (15-25 amino acids long) which is annealed in a lab test with a longer segment of chromosomal DNA, producing a number of illuminations under fluorescent light or other means. Each illumination indicates a match to the chemically prominent acids in the primer. The number of illuminations is counted and then compared to known samples.

The main uses of markers are genetic ID and ancestry distance among cultivars. They are poorly correlated with characteristics of fruit, with the exception of bulk properties such as average fruit weight.

A gene is a specific sequence of amino acids with bonds to mineral elements. They are located within chromosomes at unique locations, plus a few more within a “back up” area. A single chromosome in fruit trees will contain on the order of 10,000 different genes.

For dioecious fruiting trees and perennial shrubs, the M/F sex is known to be controlled by the RAN001 gene in what is usually numbered the 1st chromosome. It is a simple switch based on a copper bond.

For species in which the RAN001 location is known, a skilled genetics lab can determine M/F for a few $100, provided they have enough customers to include the assay in their daily operations. Otherwise the cost will be a few $1000.

To my knowledge (or lack of knowledge), the gene(s) that stipulate monoecy in fruiting plants are still unknown.

For economically important crops, a number of genes have been identified for disease resistance/susceptibility, vitality, metabolism, etc. I believe that determination of genes that control flavor in specific species is still a ways off.


Welcome to the forum! I am unable to help you with your quest but am very interested in your cause.

As to them not coming true from seed- Yes, of course. However, knowing at least one parent is extremely helpful in this work due to the eventual goal of predicting which parent combination will be the best for the next round of selection.

That’s great to hear about Nikita’s Gift x Prok that are hardy! We’ve only discussed sticking to the American genetics, but incorporating some OP seed form Nikita’s gift sounds fun!

If you haven’t already read it, I encourage you to go through this entire thread.


I doubt it’s 2 (or 3) different species (of Diospyros virginiana)

Even today Distant Cannabis species are found to be one species (satvita Indica , ruderalis )

They are Variations of the same species
A different species needs to be divided by a certain amount of Chromosomes

(I have a Link if interested )

By the way I really Liked in the past (YEARS) reading your Blog
Great stuff on Natural Dwarfing tree’s by grafting , and Ugly apples (etc)

You forgot to mention the 30 chromosome ones in Florida

Here are some Persimmon in Lisle IL.
(70 miles away from Wisconsin boarder of Kenosha WI.)
(I’ve picked some by the road (for seed b/c by road) off bigger tree’s there )