Peach growers in Alabama are looking for competitive new cultivars to solve various production issues and improve production sustainably. Researches are currently testing advanced peach selections under Alabama growing conditions to determine if they are suitable for Alabama growers.
Advanced Peach Selections
Clemson University’s peach breeding program developed new improved peach and nectarine selections that can considerably contribute to sustainability. Advanced selections SC-1 and SC-2 possess a number of valuable traits including early ripening and bacterial spot resistant fruit.
In 2017, researchers established experimental plots at the Chilton Regional Research & Extension Center to test the performance of SC-1 and SC-2 under Alabama conditions. Data are currently being collected to determine blooming season, vegetative growth, yield, and fruit quality characteristics. Also, in 2019, researchers planted trees from four additional advanced selections with bacterial spot resistance (SC-8, SC-9, SC-10, and SC-11).
In the current season, SC-2 fruit matured and was harvested May 22. The fruit held their firmness well on the tree. However, these peaches are a melting type and will soften rapidly in the field if left for a few days past commercial maturity.
Significant cold damage during bloom occurred which led to crop loss this season, but the remaining fruit was consistent in size. The fruit eating quality of this selection is excellent with a melting, juicy, firm flesh and a well-balanced sugars to acids ratio. Brix, a measure of fruit sweetness, averaged around 12.1 percent. Fruit appearance is attractive with almost 100 percent blush cover and a nicely rounded shape (Figure 1a. and Figure 1b.).
SC-1 peaches ripened approximately one week after the SC-2 selection (June 1). Researchers observed that this selection is extremely slow to soften on the tree and can sit on the tree for a month without softening.
The fruit of this selection develops a deep red blush approximately one week before it is ready to be harvested. When harvesting, it is suggested to only do two picks since the fruit hang firm on the tree for a long time prior to softening.
The yield for this section is good, especially for an early season ripening peach. Fruit size is excellent and consistent. The average fruit size this season was 196 grams. Fruit shape of SC-1 is slightly elongated (Figure 2a. and Figure 2b.).
Eating quality is excellent and similar to the SC-2 selection, but with a slightly more acidic, classic peach flavor. Fruit flesh from the first pick has a tendency to be green closer to the pit if eaten before the fruit has fully softened. While fruit tend to stay extremely firm on the tree, they will soften when exposed to room temperatures for a few days and produce a smooth, juicy, melting texture. There is some redness in the flesh closer to the skin.