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Monday, July 17, 2017

My Peach is Not Sweet But I Got Lots of Them!

Q. My peach tree produces copious amounts of fruit but they have a bitter taste year after year. What can be done to sweeten the fruit?
Genetic dwarf or "Miniature" peach. These are NOT called semi-dwarf but are true genetic dwarf. They stay very small and commercial growers thought genetic dwarf trees would revolutionize the peach industry. They didn't. The fruit quality was not nearly as good as they hoped. They are popular in home landscapes due to their size.

A. This is a problem with the variety of peach you selected. Variety names are names like ‘Bonanza’ dwarf peach, ‘Elberta’ peach, ‘FlordaPrince’ peach or ‘MidPride’ peach. There is nothing you can do to the tree or the soil to improve fruit quality. If you are not happy with the quality of the fruit after 3 or 4 seasons, replace the tree.
One of the Elberta type peaches. Popular in the desert as well as the humid eastern states.
            If yours is a miniature peach, like ‘Bonanza’, a genetic dwarf tree, then this could be the root of the problem. Genetic dwarf or miniature peaches were never accepted by the commercial peach industry because of fruit quality.
Donut peaches like this 'Stark Saturn' are a novelty peach in both yellow and subacide white flesh and very high sugar content when allowed to ripen on the tree. Performs very well in the desert with high sugar content.
            Some years the quality of the fruit produced is better than other years but generally the fruit quality is subpar when compared to varieties of fruit grown on standard-sized trees such as ‘Elberta’ or ‘MidPride’.
A favorite peach of mine because of its shocking red flowers in the spring and very good fruit flavor in the desert.
            Choose a peach by its varietal name and find out what varieties are good ones for our desert climate. The variety of the peach is extremely important for good fruit quality. Some of these varieties are marketed as “semi-dwarf” because of their grafted rootstock. The quality of the fruit is still good regardless of the rootstock but stick with a reliable varietal name.
Another personal favorite, an old timer, Indian Blood peach. A subacid peach with wonderful floral qualities, delicious fruit and shocking red flesh when left on the tree to ripen.
            Fruit quality varies with variety and climate where it’s grown. Fruit tree varieties that taste delicious in Georgia may not have the same quality when grown in the Mojave Desert. This is also true vice versa.
Another favorite and not because of its flavor but because it is so early. Hard to find a peach producing fruit in May, even before most apricots. But 'Earlitreat' variety does. Along with FlordaPrince and FlordaKing. Solid early producers for the desert with good flavor.
            In hot climates, the usual problem is a lack of flavor because of low acidity even though the sugar content can be very high. Sugar only tastes sweet. The balance of different acids is what gives a peach flavor. I would replace this tree with a variety that has a history of good flavor in our climate.

See my list of fruit trees for the Mojave Desert

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