NECTARINES / PEACHES
Nectarines and Peaches are native to China and were originally cultivated for their gorgeous blossoms and branches. Nectarines and Peaches are from the same species of tree, P. persica, with the Nectarine being a variety of the Peach tree. They differ only by a single gene: Peaches have the gene and are fuzzy-skinned; Nectarines lack the gene and have smooth skin. Nectarines occur naturally on Peach trees and occasionally, a Nectarine tree will produce "mutant" peaches.
Peach trees are moderately small, with dense, erect growth unless pruned to encourage spreading growth. The long, glossy bright green leaves are from four to 9 inches long with finely serrated edges. These trees, when grown on their own roots, will grow from eight to 20 feet high. Most, however, are grafted onto other rootstocks to control height, increase cold hardiness or resistance to pests and diseases. Most varieties are self-pollinating; therefore, only one tree is needed to obtain fruit. Peach trees only live about twelve years. New trees take two to three years to produce fruit.
Peaches and nectarines vary in flavor with each variety. Nectarines are a bit smaller than peaches and some say they taste sweeter. The flesh of most nectarines and peaches is yellow, though some are white and considered the best for eating fresh. Some nectarines and peaches are called "freestone" because their “pits” are extracted easily; others called "clingstone" because their pits re more difficult to remove. Clingstones are said to be better for cooking, since their flesh is firmer. Peaches and Nectarines are the least hardy of the Temperate regions fruit trees.
Half of the fruit crops grown for commerce come from mild areas such as Georgia, California and South Carolina. They need mild winter weather, dry and warm springs, and long, hot summers. Since these trees begin to bloom at the first bit of warmth, they are susceptible to damage from late frosts. Though Peaches and Nectarines need mild winters, they do need a certain amount of "chill hours" to thrive. There are numerous low-chill varieties available, however, and only in tropical south Florida will they not survive because of lack of winter chill. There are also some cold-hardy varieties, such as 'Reliance', that will handle cold winters, though severe cold or late spring frosts may deny one a crop every once in a while. Nectarines have the same requirements as Peaches, except they are more susceptible to Plum curculio than Peaches because of their smooth skin. They are also susceptible to brown rot. Sprays do not stick as well to their smooth skin as to the fuzzy skin of Peaches.
- Extra Fancy
- Extra Choice