Peach varieties in pipeline

Two new peach varieties developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists will be available to consumers in limited quantities in the summer of 2005.

The new varieties, Gulfking and Gulfcrest, were made available to growers in 2003. They were developed by Thomas Beckman at the ARS Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, Ga., and colleagues from the University of Georgia and the University of Florida. Both varieties — known as “non-melting” peaches — resist bruising and remain firm longer while ripening on the tree and after canning.

Gulfking typically ripens in early May. When ripe, its skin is mostly red on a deep-yellow to orange background. The flesh is firm and sweet and does not turn brown readily when bruised or cut.

Gulfcrest ripens from early to mid-May, extending the harvest period. The fruit is medium to large and also has a mostly red skin on a deep-yellow to orange background. The flesh is firm, with good sweetness, and contains some red flecks in the outer flesh on the sun-exposed side of the fruit. Like Gulfking, this peach doesn't brown readily when bruised or cut.

In test plantings, both varieties appeared to be resistant to bacterial spot on the leaves and fruit.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

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