University of Georgia New peach and nectarine varieties from Attapulgus, Ga., are adapted to the mild winters and humid summers of south Georgia and north Florida. They may make life easier in home orchards.
The breeders' emphasis is on the early season, so fruit farmers can harvest for a better market window. But the peach and nectarine varieties are excellent for both home and commercial orchards.
They're a good fit in the home garden because early-ripening varieties require much less spraying for bugs and blight than mid- and late-season varieties.
Fewer spraysFor early-season peaches, sprays of an insecticide-fungicide combination when the flower petals drop off and about 10 days later will often be all you need in your home orchard. It may not give you picture-perfect fruit, but most home gardeners can live with that.
You may need another fungicide spray for brown rot close to harvest, a peach tree borer spray in September and two oil sprays for scale during the winter.
See your University of Georgia Extension office for a more detailed spray guide, prepared by the UGA fruit insect and disease specialists.
The new fruit varieties come from a cooperative peach and nectarine breeding program between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of Florida and UGA.
Breeders' resultsBreeders from those institutions have been developing new peaches and nectarines since 1991. While their work benefits home gardeners, the project's aim is to benefit the agricultural economy of south Georgia and north Florida. The results so far:
Sunsplash nectarine blooms in late February and ripens in mid-May. It produces a sweet fruit of medium size.
White Robin peach blooms in late February and ripens in mid-May. It bears a sweet, white-flesh peach with melting flesh. It's recommended for home gardens, local sales and distant shipping with careful handling.
Gulfking peach blooms in mid to late February and ripens in early May. It has yellow, nonmelting (firm flesh) fruit with red skin and good flavor and size for a very early-season peach. It's recommended for both home garden and commercial orchards.
Gulfcrest peach is similar to Gulfking, but blooms and ripens about a week later. It has more red in the flesh and is slightly smaller.
Gulfprince blooms in mid to late February and ripens in late May and early June. It has high yields of medium-large, yellow, nonmelting-flesh fruit with a red-blushed skin color. It's recommended only for home garden and local sales, not for distant shipping.
The nonmelting-flesh peaches we've tested are excellent for home canning and freezing, since the flesh is much firmer than melting-flesh types. We think the finished product looks much better, too.
Most people like the nonmelting-flesh texture as fresh fruit, but some prefer the melting type. Besides the fruit, the beautiful pink flowers of these peaches are a real treat.
To get these varieties, see your local nursery, or call the Florida Seed Foundation at (850) 594-4721 for a list of nurseries.
(Gerard Krewer is an Extension Service horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
(Gerard Krewer is a Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)