Apr 23, 2019
New Jersey develops new peach varieties; hitting market soon

Peaches have a long history in New Jersey, dating from the 1600s. “Today’s peach growers have the experience to grow great peaches. and get them to market in peak condition,” said Hemant Gohil, agricultural agent for fruit science with Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Gloucester County. “However, for the industry to be sustainable and meet demand for locally grown fruit, improved varieties that will bear fruit throughout the harvest season are needed.”

The New Jersey Peach Promotion Council (NJPPC) has been funding a research project on new and novel peach varieties, conducted by Gohil and Dan Ward, extension tree fruit specialist at the Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Their focus has been on determining optimum maturity, handling protocols and storage characteristics on peach genotypes to maximize quality for retailers and consumers. 

“These new varieties have the potential to benefit the industry because they are selected for late bloom, cold hardiness, disease resistance, fruit quality (including novel flesh types), and a range of harvest dates that can extend their season,” said Santo John Maccherone, chair of NJPPC and owner of Circle M Farms in Salem.

The most recent results of Rutgers research are five new varieties developed by Joe Goffreda, fruit breeder at Rutgers. Brigantine (yellow-fleshed early-season, semi-freestone nectarine with excellent flavor and texture); Evelynn (yellow-fleshed sub-acid peach, ripening early mid-season with mild sweet flavor); Silverglo (cream-fleshed early-season nectarine with excellent traditional sweet flavor), Selena and Tiana (two late-season yellow-fleshed freestone peaches with great size, very good flavor).

These five varieties have recently received U.S. plant patents licensed to Adams County Nursery in Aspers, Pennsylvania. As exclusive license owner, Adams has sub-licensed to some nurseries worldwide making them available to growers.

“New plantings should result in fruit for consumers in a few years,” said Gohil.

“We need new and better peach varieties to appeal and compete with peaches flooding our markets in the summer from western states. Georgia, and South Carolina,” said Jerry Frecon, professor emeritus, Rutgers University, and technical consultant to the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council.  

“Fruit must excel in quality to also compete with many other types of fruit in supermarkets and other retail stores,” Frecon said. “While these stores may not sell peaches and nectarines by variety, they do look for attractive and novel fruit to complement other products. Since significant percentages of our peaches are sold at farm markets, community farmers markets and pick-your-own orchards, variety name can be important.”   

Erica Shiles, owner of Grasso Girls Farm Market in West Depford, affirms this, “consumers will ask for variety by name; they’re now accustomed to selecting fruit this way.”

“Our informal surveys of younger consumers have found they seem to like firm or crunchy peaches with a mild sweet sub-acid acid flavor, and without the excessive juice that dribbles down their chins and stains their clothes,” said Santo John Maccherone. “Our yellow peach variety Gloria, one of the most popular peaches on the market, has these characteristics. It’s, a ‘neat peach’ which lends it to snacking without the juicy dribble. July and August Rose are two white-fleshed varieties with similar characteristics.  All these new selections and varieties are unique and have characteristics we hope will expand grower markets and appeal to younger consumers,” Maccherone said.

For further information, email the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council information office, [email protected]; or visit the website www.jerseypeaches.com Find jersey peaches on facebook.com/newjerseypeaches. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Peaches. 

The New Jersey Peach Promotion Council is a non-profit voluntary organization of growers, shippers, wholesalers and associated industries dedicated to maintaining a viable peach industry in the Garden State for the purpose of preserving farmers and farmland; and to providing the highest quality and best tasting fresh peaches for consumers. New Jersey is the fourth largest peach producing state in the country, with approximately 75 orchards on 5,000 acres, producing 22,000-2,5000 tons, valued at approximately $30-million.  

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