ARS Offers Two New Peach Varieties

Peach growers and consumers now have two new sweet, juicy, yellow-flesh peaches to add to their list of favorite varieties. SummerFest and FlavrBurst were created by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) horticulturalist Ralph Scorza at the ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, WV.

They are the latest peach varieties released through cooperative research with Adams County Nursery, Inc., in Aspers, PA. Other notable varieties released through the partnership include Crimson Rocket and Sweet-N-UP. Both varieties are patented and available for licensing. Plant patents are pending for SummerFest and FlavrBurst.

SummerFest is a high-quality freestone peach with an excellent balance of sweetness and acidity. Harvested in the middle of peach season (mid-August in the Mid-Atlantic states), SummerFest has good firmness, which is important for shipping. It is also the second upright-growing peach tree released by ARS and Adams County Nursery.

Upright tree forms are well-suited for high-density peach production systems. Planted 8 feet apart in the row, upright peach trees are a more efficient use of land and resources and may lessen production costs. In turn, the savings may be passed down to the consumer. Gardeners may also prefer to grow upright peach trees in their yards.

FlavrBurst is another high-quality freestone peach that has a good amount of sweetness, but is lower in acidity than typical peach varieties. It may be more suitable for those who cannot tolerate acidic fruits, but still desire a “peachy” flavor. FlavrBurst is a standard-type tree, harvested mid-season and also has good firmness at harvest maturity.

Classified as dessert peaches, SummerFest and FlavrBurst are best eaten fresh, but can also be used in baking pies. The peaches grown on these trees can reach 3 inches in diameter, a nice size for the fruit. They can be grown in most areas where peaches are currently produced.

These new cultivars were made available this spring to commercial growers and university test sites for further evaluation. Consumers can expect to see these peaches in their local market in 2011.

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