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All About Peaches and Nectarines

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The peach is a fitting partner to the nectarine because it is easy to grow and many varieties are attractive, especially in bloom.  Nectarines are simply smooth-skinned peaches.  Besides having a smooth skin they are usually smaller, sweeter, and have a more distinctive aroma.

Nearly all peaches and nectarines are self-fruitful and do not need pollinizers.  Bees are the biggest help in pollen transfer. Be careful, therefore, when spraying with Liquid Sevin, as only a small amount may kill an entire hive.

Pests and Disease
Peaches and nectarines, like cherries, are subject to a long list of pests and diseases which are easily controlled or deterred by planning and knowledge.  Dormant oil sprays applied in January or February before the buds swell, when the tree is dormant, help to control fruit-spoiling insects by killing over-wintering insect eggs.  Further control may be obtained upon detection of infestation by using Fruit & Vegetable Insect Control or Garden Insect Spray only as directed.

Peach leaf curl, a disease that is easy to control but sure to attack in many regions, left uncontrolled will weaken the tree, killing it after a number of seasons. It interferes with blossom and fruit production. Control is a two step process.  Spray in late fall after leaf drop, but before heavy rain or snow occurs.  Spray again in mid-winter (January or February) before the buds begin to swell with Dormant Disease Control Lime-Sulfur. This spray may be combined with dormant oils so you need only spray once.

Bacterial gummosis, common also in cherries, causes long, narrow, damp-looking gummy patches on the trunk or branches. This can be controlled by pruning; be sure to sterilize your pruning implement after each cut or use by dipping it into a 10-to-1 bleach and water solution. Without proper sterilization, you will pass this disease on to other parts of your tree.  Bacterial gummosis can also be prevented by following a regular fertilization and watering schedule.
Peach tree borer will cause general decline in tree vigor, accompanied by numerous holes in the trunk and lower branches. To control, rely first on dormant oil sprays. If the infestation gets out of hand, spray as directed with Liquid Sevin (watch for bees-remember, it will kill them),  or bacillus thuringiensis (Bt., sold under a variety of trade names and extremely safe). Before spraying, however, consult with our professionals to insure that you have identified the insect properly.  Random and/or unchecked spray will cause more harm than it will cure.

Finally, watch for brown rot which causes fruit to shrivel and die on the tree. Remove these ‘mummies’ as they can cause reinfection. The first attack of the disease causes blossoms to brown and turn wet looking, eventually dropping. The amount of blossom blight determines the amount of fruit that may be spoiled. To control the blossom-blight phase, spray as the first pink shows using a fungicide such as lime sulfur. Spray as directed on the product label. Repeat if there is a period of wet weather.

Pruning, Thinning & Harvesting
Peaches and nectarines are usually pruned into a vase shape.  Peach trees, however, can be trained to a central leader, but have a tendency to over-grow in the tops. Peaches and nectarines are pruned more heavily than other deciduous fruit trees.  They produce fruit on shoots of the past season’s growth.  Unpruned trees will set tremendous crops of very small fruit the season after pruning is omitted.

Fruit needs to be hand thinned, or they will be small and poor in quality. The chance of limb breakage will diminish with proper thinning.  The time to thin depends on the growth stage of the fruit.  After set, fruit enlarge to about 1” in diameter, then go through a resting period during which there is little or no growth.  The best time to thin is during this rest period. Fruit should be spaced about 6” to 10” apart.

Generally, the best peach or nectarine is tree ripened.  Pick fruit when they are firm-ripe, not soft-ripe.  Sugar content and flavor are best when fruit are allowed to come almost to maturity on the tree.

Due to the uncertainty of wholesale grower stock, trucking, and weather, all varieties will not be available at all times. Although we do have the ability to special order some stock, we make no guarantee of its arrival and cheerfully encourage alternate selections.

Available Varieties - Peach

Arctic Supreme: Large, white flesh, nearly freestone.  Sweet & tangy, fine delicate flavor.
Babcock:  Medium fruit is highly blushed but lightly fuzzy skin. White semi-freestone flesh is tender, juicy and sweet with some tang.
Belle of Georgia: The skin of this outstanding white peach is red blushed over creamy white. The flesh is white and firm, has excellent flavor, and is fair for freezing but poor for canning.
Bonanza: Genetic dwarf.  A medium-sized yellow-fleshed freestone with red blush.
Elberta: Large, deep gold, blushed red freestone.  The firm yellow flesh is excellent for canning and freezing.  Ripe fruit tends to drop, so watch for firm-ripeness.
Flory: Genetic dwarf.  White fleshed, small freestone fruit.
Frost: Medium to large fruit with red blush over yellow under-color.  Yellow flesh.  Excellent sweet flavor.  Resistant to peach leaf curl.
Golden Gem: Genetic dwarf.  Large, freestone peach with yellow flesh turning red near the pit.  Excellent flavor.  Firm, good textured fruit.
Honey Babe: Genetic dwarf.  A large, firm, orange-fleshed freestone with red skin, this fruit rates high for flavor and sweetness.
Halehaven: Medium to large fruit is red over greenish yellow, changing to yellow only at maturity.  This fruits’ yellow, freestone flesh is juicy and flavorful.
Harken: Red-skinned yellow freestone. Sweet, flavorful, medium-size fruit. Dessert/cooking/freezing
Polly White: Reliable crops of tasty, sweet, medium-sized, white-fleshed fruit. One of the most winter hardy.
Ranger: Medium size, full-flavored high quality yellow freestone. One of the best late-blooming. Fresh/can/freeze
Redhaven: A garden favorite because of its’ medium-sized freestone fruit which is firm, fine-grained, sweet and juicy.  superior quality for fresh eating or canning.
Reliance: Medium sized firm, yellow freestone fruit covered by dark red skin over yellow.  Good flavor.
Rio Oso Gem:  The skin of this large freestone is red over a yellow ground; the flesh is yellow, firm, fine in texture, and nonbrowning.  It is good both fresh and for freezing.
Yosemite: Genetic dwarf.  Medium to large sweet fruit.
Veteran: One of the most reliable for cold climates; late blooming; Yellow flesh is freestone and richly flavored.
White Lady: Low acid/high sugar white peach. Red-skinned fruits are very firm, freestone.

Available Varieties - Nectarines

Cavalier: Medium, firm, aromatic, yellow freestone. Resists brown rot.
Fantasia: Large oval fruit whose surface is one-third to two-thirds bright red over yellow.  Yellow, freestone flesh is firm and smooth.
Flavortop: Large, firm, yellow freestone of excellent quality!
Firecracker: Genetic dwarf.  Flame colored skin.  Delicious yellow flesh.
Golden Flame: Genetic dwarf.  Flame colored skin.  Semi-clingstone fruit. Delicious yellow flesh.
Gold Mine: Large fruit with red blushed over white skin and white, freestone flesh with good flavor.
Le Grand: Very large fruit with bright red and yellow skin.  Yellow, clingstone flesh has a delicate, semiacid flavor.
Mericrest: Large, red-skinned yellow freestone, rich tangy flavor. Highly recommended. Late bloom
Necta Zee: Genetic dwarf
Nectarina: Genetic dwarf.  Medium-sized fruit with deep red and yellow skin. Yellow flesh red at pit cavity.  Freestone.
Redgold: A firm, freestone with glossy red skin, resists brown rot and cracking.
Snow Queen: Sweet, juicy, early season white freestone
White Freestone: White flesh of excellent sweet, juicy flavor and creamy texture.  Red blushed skin.

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