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Monday, December 12, 2011

Lots of Thanks to Floyd Zaiger for Pluots


Flavor King pluot from the UNCE Orchard
            What are pluots, plumcots and apriums? Technically they are called “interspecific hybrids”. Let’s break that down. Most people know what hybrids are. They know them as a new class of vehicles. These hybrid vehicles are a cross between a traditional gasoline or petroleum fueled vehicle and an one that gets its power from a source of energy other than petroleum such as, in these cases, electricity.

            Hybrids occur in plants. These can be crosses which occur in nature or selectively done by hand by plant breeders. When we take two plants that don’t normally breed with each other we can get a new generation in that some of the offspring are superior to the parent plants. These superior traits can be in the how they grow, how they look or how or what they produce. These superior offspring we say have “hybrid vigor”.
Orchard volunteers assisting with fruit evaluations at
Zaiger Genetics with Tom Spellman from Dave Wilson
Nursery who coordinated the event

            Most crosses found in nature occur between plants of the same species. So when a plum crosses with another plum this can be fairly common and is between plants of the same species; plums. The seed or offspring will have traits from both plum parents. But if a plum crosses with a plant like an apricot, a totally different species, then it is called an “interspecific” cross (cross between two totally different species). This rarely happens in nature. This type of cross is manipulated by people like plant breeders or hybridizers.

Floyd Zaiger with Tom Spellman describing the operations
at Zaiger Genetics
            Floyd Zaiger, a plant breeder and founder of Zaiger Genetics in Modesto, California, is one of a few pioneers in plant breeding involving fruit trees. He was responsible, by creating interspecific crosses between apricots, plums, peaches and nectarines, to create fruits never before seen on the planet. These fruits include what we now call pluot, aprium, plumcot, nectaplum, peacotum and others.

Donut pluot, a cross that has not yet made it
 to the marketplace.
            According to Floyd Zaiger out of about 5,000 crosses that he must do by hand, perhaps one of these crosses will be accepted for marketing as a new type of fruit tree, an interspecific hybrid. This is why there is a royalty charge, usually a couple of dollars, when buying these interspecific crosses. These royalties are returns on investments (ROI) in the 5,000 crosses that were "invested" in a successful cross. A small price to pay for this wonderful fruit. When a person propagates one of these crosses illegally it prevents these royalties from coming back and supporting new research which will lead to new introductions. Rumor has it that China now has over 10,000 acres of "stolen" Zaiger Genetics plant material.

Their common name usually tells you what was used in the cross; plum, apricot, nectarine or peach. We can thank people like Floyd Zaiger for giving us these new, wonderful fruits to enjoy. Many do very well in our hot, dry desert.

Tom Spellman from Dave Wilson Nursery which owns the marketing rights for Zaiger Genetic's new introductions, coordinates the orchard volunteer tour of their facility every year. Thank you Tom and Floyd for some wonderful experiences and a great wealth of information!

Thanks to Dave Wilson for the following information. I thought it might be a quick reference when thinking about these interspecific hybrids.

Pluot® is an "interspecific" - a complex hybrid of apricot and plum.
The complex, intense flavor of both the Aprium® and the Pluot® is unique to interspecifics, much like a blend of fruit juices where the mixture is an improvement over any of the separate ingredients. Additionally, the sugar content of interspecifics is much higher than in standard plums or apricots, yielding fruit of incomparable sweetness. Pluots® have predominantly plum parentage and smooth skins like plums. Pluot® and Aprium® are registered trademarks of Zaiger Genetics of Modesto, California

Dapple Dandy Pluot®
Creamy white and red-fleshed freestone with wonderful plum-apricot flavor. Skin greenish-yellow with red spots, turning to a maroon and yellow dapple. August harvest in Central Calif. 4-500 hours. Pollenized by Flavor Supreme Pluot®, Santa Rosa or Burgundy Plum. Pat. No. 9254. (Zaiger)

Emerald Drop Pluot®
Medium to large size with green skin and yellow-orange flesh. Prolonged harvest: early-picked fruit is firm, yet juicy sweet. Left to hang, fruit turns greenish-yellow with honey-like orange flesh. Upright tree sets heavy crops once established. Harvest mid-July to late August. Estimated chill requirement: 400 hours or less. Tested as 7HC165. Pollinizer required. Pat. No. 14599 (Zaiger)

Flavor Finale Pluot®
Medium-to-large sized Pluot® with purplish-red skin and amber-red flesh. Exceptional complex flavor. Harvest begins in Early September and fruit is edible well into October. Upright tree sets large crops. 500 hours. Pollinizer required. (Zaiger)

Flavor Grenade Pluot®
Elongated green fruit with a red blush. Crisp texture and explosive flavor. Taste-test winner. Hangs on the tree for 4 to 6 weeks. Pollinize with a Japanese plum. Estimated chilling requirement: 400 to 500 hours. Patent No. 12097. (Zaiger)

Flavor King Pluot®
Unique plum-apricot hybrid. Remarkable, spicy bouquet and flavor. Reddish-purple skin, sweet red flesh. Harvest mid August in Central Calif. Naturally small tree. Estimated chill requirement: 400 hours or less. Pollenized by Flavor Supreme, Santa Rosa or Late Santa Rosa. Pat. No. 8026. (Zaiger)

Flavor Queen Pluot®
Greenish-yellow skin, amber-orange flesh. Prolonged harvest: mid-July thru August. 5-600 hours. Pollinized by plum or other Pluot®, (Dapple Dandy Pluot® or Burgundy Plum) but not Flavor King. Pat. No. 7420. (Zaiger)

Flavor Supreme Pluot®
Plum-apricot hybrid with sweet, richly flavored, firm red flesh. Greenish-maroon mottled skin. June harvest in Central California, about two weeks before Santa Rosa. 5-600 hours. Pollinized by Santa Rosa, Late Santa Rosa, or other Pluot®. (Zaiger)

Flavorich Pluot®
Large, dark purple-skinned fruits with firm, very sweet, yellow-orange flesh. Harvest begins late August/early September in Central California, 2-3 weeks after Flavor King Pluot®. Vigorous, upright tree. Originated from a cross of Friar plum and an unnamed Pluot®. 800 hours. Pollenizer required: another Pluot® such as Dapple Dandy or Flavor King, or a Japanese plum such as Santa Rosa or Late Santa Rosa. Pat. No. 8546. (Zaiger)

Flavorosa Pluot®
Deep purple-skinned fruit with red flesh. Mild, sweet flavor. Ripens at the end of May. Pollinize with a Japanese plum. 400 hours chill required. Patent # 10285 (Zaiger)

Geo Pride Pluot®
Red-skinned, yellow-fleshed plum/apricot hybrid, ranked in top 5 at both July & August tastings in 1997. Balanced acid-sugar to predominantly sweet with unique plum/apricot flavor. Medium size, very heavy production. Harvest in mid-July to early August, just ahead of Flavor Queen Pluot®. Estimated chill requirement: 400 hours or less. Pollenizer required:Flavor Supreme Pluot®, Dapple Dandy Pluot®, Santa Rosa Plum. Good pollenizer for other plums & pluots®. Patent # 10386 (Zaiger)

Splash Pluot®
 Small to medium sized red-orange colored fruit, with very sweet orange flesh. Round to heart-shaped fruit is excellent eaten fresh, dried or in desserts. Upright tree sets large crops once established. Estimated chill requirement: 400 hours or less. Pollenizer required. Pat. No 14583 (Zaiger)

Dave Wilson apriums
The Aprium® is an "interspecific" - a complex hybrid of apricot and plum. The complex, intense flavor of both the Aprium® and the Pluot® is unique to interspecifics, much like a blend of fruit juices where the mixture is an improvement over any of the separate ingredients. Additionally, the sugar content of interspecifics is much higher than in standard plums or apricots, yielding fruit of incomparable sweetness. Apriums®, with their scant fuzz, resemble apricots in the expression of their parentage. Pluot® and Aprium® are registered trademarks of Zaiger Genetics of Modesto, California

Cot-N-Candy Aprium®
Early season harvest, ripening 1 week later than Flavor Delight Aprium™. Flesh is extra sweet and juicy, with a plumy aftertaste Cot-N-Candy’s size is 2 to 2 ½ inches on average. Self-fruitful. Patent #17827 (Zaiger)

Flavor Delight Aprium®
Resembles an apricot but with a distinctive flavor and texture all its own. Pleasant, lingering after taste. Early June. Bigger crops if pollenized by any apricot. Estimated chilling requirement: 200 to 300 hours. (Zaiger)

Dave Wilson peacotum
The Peacotum® is an "interspecific" - a complex hybrid of peach, apricot and plum.
The complex, intense flavor of the Peacotum®, Pluot® and Aprium® is unique to interspecifics, much like a blend of fruit juices where the mixture is an improvement over any of the separate ingredients. Additionally, the sugar content of our interspecifics is much higher than in any standard plum or apricot, yielding fruit of incomparable sweetness. Pluot® and Aprium® and Peacotum® are registered trademarks of Zaiger Genetics of Modesto, California

Bella Gold Peacotum®
Peach x apricot x plum. Bella Gold Peacotum® has a slightly fuzzy skin like an apricot, and a bright yellow color with an attractive red blush. Bella Gold has a wonderful, mildly sweet flavor all its own. Naturally semi-dwarf tree. Known to be pollenized by Flavor Grenade Pluot® and Blenheim apricot. Estimated chilling requirement 500 hours. Pat. No. 17826 (Zaiger)

Plumcot
The Plumcot is a hybrid between an apricot and a plum. Plumcots have a higher sugar content and a much sweeter flavor than plums or apricots.

Flavorella plumcot
Medium-sized fruit with translucent golden color, light red blush and slight pubescense; ripens in late May to early June. Excellent flavor with firm, juicy flesh. 250 hours. Pollenizer required. Flavor Delight, Gold Kist and Flora Gold all work well. Pat. No. 8470. (Zaiger)

Nectaplum
As the name suggests, an interspecific cross between nectarine and plum.
Spice Zee Nectaplum®
The first Nectaplum® from Zaiger Hybrids. It is slightly acidic and loaded with sugar giving it a spicy sweet flavor. One can detect both Plum and Nectarine traits with ease. Along with great flavor, Spice Zee is a beautiful ornamental tree with a tremendous spring bloom followed by dark red leaf in the spring that matures to a rich green-red in late summer. This variety is self-fruitful and very productive. Estimated chill requirement: 200 to 300 hours. (Patent Pending

Peach plum hybrid
Tri-Lite
This white-fleshed peach/plum hybrid can be eaten firm. It has a mild, classic flavor with a wonderful plum aftertaste that makes this a unique treat. Early ripening in June. Superior quality canning clingstone. Estimated chill requirement: 400 to 500 hours.


Cherry plum

Delight cherry-plum
Hybrid of cherry-plum and Japanese plum. Flavorful, tangy, clingstone. Heavy crops. Very productive, even under adverse conditions. 400 hours. Pollenizer required. Interfruitful with Sprite. (Zaiger)

Sprite cherry-plum
Japanese plum x cherry-plum. Sweet, freestone, not tart. Flavorful, refreshing - wonderful fresh eating. Ripe fruit holds on tree 3-4 weeks. Adapted to most climates. 400 hours. Pollenized by Delight. (Zaiger)

2 comments:

  1. That variety of pluot is this? http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-NWQeP9LSffM/TuZk3Y8vmKI/AAAAAAAAB_k/WPwFyLUA6mU/s1600/donut+pluot+%25282%2529.JPG

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  2. That pluot never made it out commercially. I was able to enjoy it at Zaiger Genetics during a visit there with Tom Spellman. But even though it never made it out commercially, it was extremely good, high sugar content and very flavorful. Only 1 in 5000 crosses ever makes it commercially due to some very tough taste and performance tests conducted by Dave Wilson Nursery. I have participated in them and they were remarkable. If we want to enjoy this type of fruit in the future we must make sure that patented fruit remains patented so that breeders like Zaigers can continue to operate by receiving their royalties. Please do not buy "stolen" fruit cultivars. Estimates are that there are at least 10,000 acres in China exist because of pirating. They were taken without approval and without paying the royalties. While I worked in Afghanistan I saw patented varieties illegally (US) planted in orchards and nurseries. These were pirated out of the US by NGO's or Afghans. It isnt just those countries. It is a world-wide problem.

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