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'White Robin' Could Fill South Georgia Peach Niche

Its name sounds like an exotic bird. And "White Robin," a newly released peach variety, could become a sign of spring in south Georgia, said a University of Georgia scientist.

"This new variety is perfect for south Georgia peach orchards," said Gerard Krewer, an Extension Service horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

UGA, the University of Florida and the U.S. Department of Agriculture jointly named and released the new variety. It was developed at the 0021 Attapulgus Research Farm 32E1 , near the Florida state line in Georgia.


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It may be three or four years before you see White Robin peaches at your favorite market, though. Krewer said it takes that long for the new trees to begin bearing fruit in large quantities.

Anyone who wants the new trees for commercial or home orchards should order soon. "The Tennessee nurseries that bud and raise the trees don't have spare trees," Krewer said. "They bud for the orders they have. So it's important to order ahead."


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Krewer said White Robin is a white- fleshed, semifreestone peach with good size (about 2 3/8 inches diameter) and a nice red skin.

"This peach has a sweet flavor that's a little different from yellow peaches," he said. "It's hard to describe its exact flavor, but it's very tasty."

Two of White Robin's best features are its relatively low chilling requirement and its firmness. Krewer said those features make it an ideal variety for south Georgia and north Florida home or commercial orchards.

"White Robin needs only 500 chilling hours (below 45 degrees) to produce a good crop," he said. "Some of our midstate-grown varieties need 800 or more hours. We often don't get that many chill hours in south Georgia."

Its firmness is a plus for commercial growers, making White Robin a good shipping peach. Krewer said growers can ship White Robin with little bruising before it gets to mid-Atlantic Coast destinations.

Another plus is its early-season ripeness -- usually sometime in May. Krewer said this gets Georgia peaches to markets before other white peaches grown farther north. That helps Georgia farmers capture the best prices for their fruit.

Tom Beckman, a USDA fruit researcher in Byron, Ga., said White Robin fills a niche in the peach season. "This peach comes in at a time when no other white-fleshed peaches are available," he said. "It's really a specialty peach."

Beckman hopes to see growers keep the fruit close to home. Like many other fruits, White Robin is best when tree-ripened. But long shipping distances force growers to pick before the fruit is really ripe.

"If growers keep the fruit close, say their local farmers' market or specialty grocery store, they can leave it on the tree longer," he said. "That results in riper, and sweeter, peaches."

White Robin peaches were developed mainly for fresh markets. "They've got a different flavor than yellow-flesh peaches," Beckman said. "Krewer and I have tried to describe them, but you just have to taste them to understand."

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