Peaches evoke memories and bring out the best of summertime activities.
There are peach cobbler bake-offs, peach-eating contests, and peach
recipes handed down through the generations. Even in the dead of winter,
the scent of peaches allows us to look forward to the ripe peaches of
Growing peaches has become big business, and growers depend on fruit
that can endure the trip to the market.
Agricultural Research Service
scientists continually strive to develop new peach varieties to meet
the needs of growers and consumers alike. Two new peach varieties, Gulfking
and Gulfcrest, were made available for planting in the summer of 2003
and will show up in markets, in limited quantity, next summer.
Each of these varieties was developed in collaborations between Thomas
Beckman in the Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in
Byron, Georgia, the University of Georgia, and the University of Florida.
Both varieties are a nonmelting type peach that resists bruising and
allows for more on-tree ripening. "These peaches may show up in
the markets as early as 2005, but certainly in 2006," says Beckman.
Gulfking originated from a cross of UFGold and an unreleased selection
that itself was a cross between Sunprince and Majestic. The fruit ripens
73-80 days from full bloom, typically in early May with Flordaking,
currently an important variety in the early season. Gulfking is large
and is 80-90 percent red over a deep-yellow to orange background skin
color when ripe. Flesh is firm with good sweetness and does not brown
readily on bruised or cut surfaces.
Gulfcrest originated from a 1995 cross between Spring Baby and an unreleased
selection that was a cross between Aztecgold and Oro A.
Gulfprince ripens from early to mid-May, extending the harvest period.
The fruit is medium large and exhibits 90-95 percent red over a deep-yellow
to orange background skin color. The flesh is firm with good sweetness
and contains some red pigment flecks in the outer flesh on the sun-exposed
side of the fruit. This variety does not brown readily on bruised or
Both Gulfking and Gulfcrest appear to be resistant to bacterial spot
on the leaves and fruit in test plantings where known susceptible peach
trees exhibit typical symptoms.
But why have all these different varieties? "Growers have to have
enough varieties that ripen sequentially to fill the markets' needs,"
says Beckman. He also cites the need to improve on the soft fruit's
tendency to bruise. "Bruising is a problem for all soft fruits,
and we continue to develop new peaches that can withstand the amount
of handling necessary to bring them to market."
In the meantime, we'll enjoy this year's bounty and wait for next summer
to dive into the lush juiciness of the new peaches.By Sharon
Durham, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.
This research is part of Plant, Microbial, and Insect Genomics and
Genetic Improvement, an ARS National Program (#301) described on the
World Wide Web at www.nps.ars.usda.gov.
Thomas Beckman is
with the USDA-ARS Southeastern
Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory, 21 Dunbar Rd., Byron, GA
31008-9805; phone (478) 956-6436, fax (478) 956-2929.
"New Peaches for the Sweet-Loving Palate" was published
in the January
2005 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.