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Spring 2000

Research Magazine > ARCHIVE > Spring 00 > Article

A Perfect New Peach
by Esther L. Benenson

Imagine the perfect peach. Sweet and ready to eat. A peach that requires no additional ripening. One that tastes good today or next week, holds its shape and is just plain pretty.

Imagination became reality this winter when a patent was issued for Gulfprince, a new peach variety developed by a team of scientists from the University of Georgia, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Florida (Research Reporter, Summer 1997).

Farmers can begin to order trees from commercial nurseries this year. Taking into account the two years necessary for a young tree to bear fruit, Gulfprince peaches should make their supermarket debut in 2003.

It's industry standard to pick peaches still firm and ship before they've softened to better withstand the rigors of shipping; a firm peach won't perish before getting to market. Underdeveloped peaches, however, aren't always sweet enough or soft enough to satisfy the typical palate.

"The beauty of Gulfprince is that you can let the peach get tree-ripe," UGA horticulturist Gerard Krewer said. "They can develop more sugar, so they taste better."

Gulfprince can remain on the tree longer, increasing its sweetness, because it has a firmer flesh - which is also better for shipping. As an added benefit, the fruit is big (2.6 inches or more in diameter) and is colored yellow and red - attributes consumers overwhelmingly prefer.

From the farmer's point of view, Gulfprince requires less cold in the winter in order to set its buds, making it a good choice for the South Georgia climate. Its protracted bloom also allows it to survive unusually late frosts.

The result: Consumers have a more appealing peach, grocers get unbruised peaches with a longer shelf life, and farmers gain more satisfied customers and, hopefully, an increasing market.

For researchers, work will continue on developing "perfect" peaches that ripen at different times - extending the peach season.

"This is just the beginning of the quest," Krewer said.

For more information, contact your local county extension agent.

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Practically perfect fruit!