Red Fern Farm: Wapello Iowa

Visited this place, yesterday. I highly recommend @Levers101 and others visit this time of the year going into the next several weeks. You Pick at Red Fern Farm 2017

About 120 acres. Pawpaws & Persimmons of varying cultivars are ready and others to be ready soon. They make the majority of their income from chestnuts. I learned 1-acre of good size chestnut trees yield $10,000.

I ate my first ‘Prok’ persimmons. It’s awesome. He has a lot of cultivars of pawpaws. A lot of cultivars of persimmon. I tried my first Asian pear, a ‘Shinko’. Incredible. Could eat one after another.

Check them out. No apples @Levers101. They fly with the motto if it requires spraying they don’t grow it. There are excellent pears to be tasted. The place is wonderful and beautiful.

Please if anyone knows others in the eastern Iowa, western IL area, link them to this post. Honestly it was one of the best experiences I’ve had.



I wish I would’ve taken a ton more photos… especially of the individual tree specimens. Everything was low-key and fun. Tom Wahl and I casually walked around and talked. I did take a few photos I’ll share. I’m going back to photograph much much more, however.




Looks like a nice get away trip. Those Virginiana and Pawpaws looked good. How far is it from Des Moines and Omaha?


Hi Tony,

It’s going to be quite a distance.

2.5 hours from Des Moines, mimimum
4.5 hours from Omaha, minimum.

Excellent, excellent, excellent. Worth the drive. You need to call prior to schedule a visit.

They pay you to pick chestnuts by the way. 50cents a pound.



Dax -

It sounds like you got the full tour.

I was down there at this time last year and picked pawpaws and persimmons. It was a busy day for them even though it was a weekday and I did not talk with Tom. But Kathy was very nice.

I have bought pawpaw trees from them before, and got several varieties of persimmon scion wood this spring.

Do they have persimmons in the orchard across the road? Kathy gave me quite a few handfuls from the trees by the house. Yates and Osage were ripe last year. Osage were meh, but Yates are great, even with seeds.

Their recipe for persimmon chiffon pie is amazing. I made it last winter with some fruit from them that I froze whole.

I wish I had more use for chestnuts. My uncle (now passed) planted quite a few chestnuts, including a mini orchard of them with interspersed northern pecans. The pecans just started bearing and most of the chestnuts feed squirrels. My observation from those plantings is that they aren’t completely set-and-forget. As your 2nd to top picture shows, the tend to die off here. I’m not sure if the ones my uncle planted were all Chinese or American x Chinese hybrids. But it points to the fact that they might need replanting at some interval.

As far as eastern Iowans, @Sean2280 comes to mind.

Unfortunately, it looks like I won’t get down there to pick pawpaws this year. A conference this week, a big apple pressing party next weekend, a mid-week wedding in MN and Luther’s homecoming in the next three weeks has my schedule jam-packed.


They have a big Prok across the road (that’s the photo above) and several 100-46 that were not ripe yet. All Prok’s are dropping but entire trees are not ripe, no. There are several other persimmons also across the road, too.

Glad you knew of the place. I’ll have to get that recipe.


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These Prok are so so sweet and fragrance after sitting on the counter for 2 weeks… A definitely keeper!



Do you find their flavor changes when held for a few weeks? I’m curious because I’ve read reports of Prok being bland, but everything I’ve seen you say about them is A+ on flavor.

They’re pretty dang refreshing (and on the slighter sweet side) when eaten crunchy which I think is a treat and rare trait that I know of no-other American cultivar that is non-astringent when eaten at a crunchier state. When Prok is dead orange in color it can be eaten but anything before a deep glowing orange and they’re not ready. They taste excellent this way.

Sure… they only become sweeter and become really sweet when really soft.


Tony ,how did you keep them on the counter for weeks ?
Here they would last 2-3 days max , then too soft

@jcguarneri , I would call prok anything but bland.
Very flavorful , a friend said " like pudding on a tree" !
One of my favorite fruits.!

@Barkslip which variety are you referring to as being good when " crunchy " as prok is not good at the crunchy stage ,
Must be soft .

@Hillbillyhort it’s at a stage that’s slightly soft yes. It’s not anywhere near an apple.

I should be completely disqualified as a persimmon expert. I am not. I visited Jerry Lehman’s orchard and have been over to Red Fern Farm twice. That puts me at (3) times tasting very many persimmons.

I don’t know what a crunchy Asian persimmon looks like or tastes like but I know what a non-Prok tastes like at the stage of just beginning to soften after it’s a deep and beautiful orange color. You can’t eat other persimmons at that stage because they are Very bitter astringent.

Good luck to all. Maybe @Tony can say it correctly or disqualify my statement in entirety. I’d appreciate it one way or the other Tony…


Pick them in the light yellow stage, firm, and let them ripen on the counter. They will last 2 to 3 weeks.



Well , I think that puts you in “our” persimmon expert category !
That is more exposure to persimmon varietys than most people on here can claim !
As those are very impressive collections you sampled .
So you have more experience than most. I have enjoyed your posts about your visits.
It was just the" crunchy" that threw me.
All the American persimmons I have must be soft to eat.
Such that if you dropped then from like 5 ft. Onto a board , they would not bounce, but likely to splat. Not crunchy .
Garrettson is the only American one that I have that can be eaten in a very firm stage. But as you said "glowing "orange, almost translucent.
I have eaten some nonastringent Asian persimmons that are very firm, and likely would bounce. Approaching crunchy.


@Tony, thanks.

That’s right, billyhort, “glowing” orange, almost translucent ’ that’s what I’m talkng about.


@tonyOmahaz5 @Barkslip @Hillbillyhort Thanks for the info. It’s good to know that they will continue to ripen off the tree. I’m still trying to figure out what persimmon varieties to pursue in NH. I know I’m over thinking it, as I’ve never met a fully ripe Amercian persimmon I didn’t like. Granted, I’ve only sampled fruit from wild trees.


I made the pilgrimage and am very happy about it. Visiting red fern farm has been on my bucket list. I plan to return, definitely. I was the last person to go through this year I’m told, so I got smaller leavings for pawpaws. That’s fine with me because they’re quite filling. I think I like the persimmons even more than the pawpaws and could eat those all day long. There were no Asian pears available but that’s ok. And almost no chestnuts as a late freeze damaged them. The derecho went through this year so there was maybe more fruit on the ground than usual.

It was a great experience and very inspiring.

The reddish persimmon Tom said was called something beauty, I can’t remember the first part of the name. The middle unripe one is prok and the not so pretty soft one I didn’t get a name for but I like it the best. All but prok are very seedy but I don’t find it to be a bad thing actually. It doesn’t take away from the experience for me. Prok is not as sweet but it’s still a treat for sure.


WOW! Impressive! :yum:


Valene beauty (or valeene?)


I’m 85% certain that’s it!


‘Valeene Beauty’ with (2) e’s is correct.