Flavorcrest flourishes when
grafted to either of two new rootstocks that ARS and university scientists
developed for growing shorter, easier-to-manage peach trees. Click the image
for more information about it.
Peach and Nectarine Trees: Picking the Perfect
Height By Marcia
Wood August 19, 2005
Orchardists may soon be able to produce favorite peach varieties--or
best-selling nectarines--using new rootstocks that result in shorter,
easier-to-manage trees. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and cooperators developed
the new rootstocks in California.
Anywhere from 10 to 50 percent shorter than their conventional orchard
counterparts, these semidwarf trees are faster, easier, safer and more
convenient to thin, prune and harvest. And, if planted closer together than
their larger counterparts--and thinned carefully--the shorter trees should
produce fruit that's as large as that of the taller trees. In addition, the
per-acre yield of the peaches or nectarines should be about the same as is
harvested from orchards planted with standard-size fruit trees.
ARS research geneticist
W. Ramming at
Calif., chose the parent trees for the two rootstocks, then singled out
their offspring from among many other candidates for outdoor tests.
Co-investigator and pomologist Theodore M. DeJong of the
University of California-Davis,
led additional tests, collaborating with Ramming, R. Scott Johnson of the
University of California's Kearney Research and Extension
Center at Parlier, and James Doyle, now retired from Kearney. In all, the
team put the rootstocks through more than a decade of rigorous tests in
research and commercial orchards in California's premier peach-growing regions.
The rootstocks are among the first of their kind to be so thoroughly
tested in California, the state that produces more peaches and nectarines than
Rootstocks are the rooted, lower portion of a tree to which the upper,
fruit-bearing portion, or scionwood, is grafted.
The team received patents last fall for the rootstocks, known as
P30-135 and K146-43. They describe their research in a recent issue of California Agriculture magazine.
Peaches and nectarines provide vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and
fiber, and are free of fat and sodium.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief in-house scientific research agency.