Your Peach is Ready … thank Stanley Johnston for that

August 1, 2013

U-Pick peach

U-Pick peach, photo by Alissa Holland

“Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.”
― Alice Walker

Peaches are rolling in at farm markets all across Michigan.  A favorite article that Michigan History Magazine shared on Absolute Michigan tells the story of A Peach of a Man:

Many people have contributed to Michigan’s fruit industry, but Stanley Johnston stands above the rest. Johnston not only developed a new peach that is the most widely grown peach in the world today. He also made Michigan the nation’s leading producer of blueberries.

Johnston was the superintendent of Michigan State University’s (MSU) experiment station in South Haven from 1920 to 1969. There, he developed a better peach. Johnston took peaches that had good features, like ones that ripened at different times or did not turn brown when canned or frozen. He took pollen from the male plant and joined it to the flower of the female plant. When the fruit grew, he collected seeds and started a new tree. When the tree produced fruit five years later, he could see if he made a better peach.

During his career, Johnston grew and studied more than 20,000 peach trees. Eight different types, called “havens” (for South Haven), were planted by farmers. Havens ripened earlier, so the peach-growing season was longer, which meant more peaches could be grown and sold. One of these peaches, named Redhaven for its nice red color, is the most popular peach in the world today.

Johnston received much praise for his work with peaches. Comparing him to an artist, one man called Johnston a “Picasso among peach breeders-a plant breeding artist.”

Read on at Absolute Michigan and definitely get down to your local farmer’s market for some peachy goodness!

Check Alissa’s photo out bigger and see more in her Michigan’s west lakeshore slideshow.

More food on Michigan in Pictures.

One Response to “Your Peach is Ready … thank Stanley Johnston for that”


  1. Reblogged this on The Three R's Blog and commented:
    Ah, the simple pleasure of a Michigan peach! Sorry, California, though I ate and enjoyed one of your peaches just this week, nothing compares to the flavor of a homegrown Redhaven! But did you know that the most popular variety of peaches can be traced to a Michigan man and an area just to the south and west of Grand Rapids? Learn about the “Picasso among peach-breeders” in this fascinating story about Michigan peaches. -CJT


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