Fruit trees: Peach

Fruit trees: Peach

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The peach tree is probably native to China (according to some of the Middle East - Persia), where it can still be found in the wild. The introduction of the peach tree in Europe is attributed by some to Alexander the Great following his expeditions against the Persians, according to others the Greeks would have introduced it from Egypt.
It is grown in many states in areas with a mild temperate climate. The major producers worldwide are the United States, followed by Italy, Spain, Greece, China, France and Argentina.
In Italy the main producing regions are Emilia-Romagna (about 1/3 of the production), Campania (1/4), Veneto and Lazio. The first specialized peach orchards in Italy date back to the end of the 19th century and were made in the province of Ravenna.
The peach belongs to the Rosaceae family, Amigdaleae tribe, Prunoidee section, Persica genus, vulgaris species. According to other scholars it belongs to the genus Prunus (persica species), such as apricot, cherry, almond and plum trees.
The Persica genus includes various species, including several ornamental ones. Among those cultivated we remember:
- Persica vulgaris Mill. (= Prunus persica (L.) Batsch.): Produces fruits with a tomentose skin; from fresh consumption or from industry;
- Persica laevis DC (= Prunus persica var. Necturina Maxim., Prunus persica var. Laevis Gray): peach nut or nectarine, which produces hairless fruits for fresh consumption.
The common peach tree is a modest sized tree, up to ca. 8 m, with a very superficial root system, brown-cenerine bark and sparse, divaricated, red-brown branches.
The leaves are lanceolate, narrow, serrated.
The flowers, which bloom before the appearance of the leaves, are hermaphrodites, axillaries, pentamers, colored in more or less intense pink. The petals are five, the calyx is gamosepal, with five sepals; the stamens are numerous, up to 20-30. The peach is, in general, a self-fertile species. The eggs, generally two, do not all reach maturity, but only one of them is fertilized and reaches maturity. The peach kernel therefore contains only one deeply furrowed seed (or almond), which is bitter in taste due to the high content of amygdalin, a cyanogenic glucoside characteristic of some stone fruit. The fruits (peaches) are fleshy drupes, rounded, furrowed longitudinally on one side, covered by a tomentose peel (peaches properly called) or glabrous (peaches-walnuts or nectarines) of various colors. The flesh is succulent, with a more or less acidic sugary flavor, white, yellow or greenish in color. The peach has a typical pulpy and juicy consistency which is due to the high water content and the presence of pectin.
The fruit ripens between the first and second decade of May in the southern areas, until the end of September for the later cultivars.
In general, the climatic conditions of Italy and other Mediterranean countries are ideal for the cultivation of peach trees which can bear very wide limits, from winter minimums of even -15 -18 ° C to subtropical environments where winter rest is somewhat limited.

Peaches of the Regina di Londa variety (photo Valter Nencetti

Varieties and rootstocks

The choice of the rootstock depends on numerous factors: the type of soil, the crops that preceded it, the possibility of irrigating, the availability on the nursery market, the variety, etc. There are numerous possible rootstocks that can be used even if, in practice, the most common ones are few. Recall: Franco Slavo, Franco selections, Serie P.S., GF 677, Sirio, Hansen, Barrier 1, Susino, M.r.S 2/5, Penta and Tetra.
The peach cultivars, in relation to their species and the type of product supplied, are divided into:
- cultivars for fresh consumption;
- nectarines;
- why.
As part of the fruit species most widespread in our country, the peach has always recorded the widest creativity understood as the number of new cultivars that are brought to the attention of fruit growers every year. This situation poses problems both in the world of research, due to the difficulties encountered in an attempt to evaluate in advance the new varieties before they are made known in nursery catalogs; and production, due to the disorientation it causes among fruit growers when choosing the cultivars that should respond to the planning needs of the new plants to be built. This intense dynamism has substantially changed the old variety assortment, which has not happened for many other fruit species.
Especially in the last decade we have witnessed important changes in the pomological and commercial characteristics of the new peach cultivars which substantially affect:
a) the color of the epidermis, which has evolved from more or less suffused and often streaked red on a background that is hardly green, albeit light, to a very intense and extremely united red, which often appears well before the time of commercial harvesting of the fruits;
b) the flavor of the pulp, which tends to flatten with respect to that typical of the old cultivars, both with yellow pulp (generally more acidic) and with white pulp (almost always more savory, because they are richer in sugars);
c) the consistency of the fruit, both on the tree and post-harvest, which in the new cultivars is high or very high, compared to the medium or medium-low one of the old cultivars.
These modifications have affected cultivars for fresh consumption, both of peach and nectarines, but not those for industry, more linked to specific technological needs of the mechanical and chemical means used for the transformation of the fruits.
The cultivar for fresh consumption are distinguished in:
- recommended yellow flesh cultivars: Earrly Maycrest, Queencrest, Maycrest, Springcrest, Spring Lady, Springbelle, Royal Glory, Flavorcrest, Redhaven, Rich Lady, Lizbeth, Red Moon, Red Topo, Summer Rich, Maria Marta, Glohaven, Pontina, Romestar , Elegant Lady, Suncrest, Red Coast, Symphonie, Franca, Sibelle, Cresthaven, Roberta Barolo, Bolero, Fayette, Promesse, Sunprice, Aurelia, Early OHenry, Padana, Calred, OHenry, Guglielmina, Parade, Flaminia, Fairtime;
- recommended white flesh cultivars: Primerose, Springtime, Alexandra, Felicia, Anita, Iris Rosso, Maria Grazia, Daisy, Alba, Bea, Redhaven Bianca, Maria Bianca, Fidelia, White Lady, Rosa del West, Maria Rosa, Rossa San Carlo , Maria Angela, Tendresse, Toro, Dolores, K2, White Queen, Duchess dEste, Maria Delizia, Tardivo Giuliani, Michelini, Queen of Londa.
The nectarines can be distinguished in:
- yellow pulp recommended: May Glo, Lavinia, Armking, Rita Star, Maria Emilia, Supercrimson, May Diamond, Red Delight, Weinberger, Gioia, Early Sungrand, Big Top, Spring Red, Firebrite, Maria Laura, Independence, Flavor Gold, Pegaso, Maria Carla, Red Diamond, Antares, Summer Grand, Flavortop, Stark Redgold, Nectaross, Maria Aurelia, Venus, Maria Dolce, Orion, Sweet Red, Caldesi 84, Royal Giant, Sirio, Scarlet Red, Fairlane, Tastyfree, Caldesi 85 , California;
- white flesh: Silver King, Caldesi 2000, Caldesi 2010, Silver Star, Silver Moon, Caldesi 2020.
Among industrial peaches (or peaches) we recommend: Federica, Tirrenia, Loadel, Villa Giulia, Romea, Villa Adriana, Tebana, Adriatica, Lamone, Villa Ada, Babygold 6, Villa Doria, Carson, Vivian, Andross, Jungerman, Babygold 9, Merriam.

Peaches of the Regina di Londa variety (photo Valter Nencetti

Cultivation technique

The peach orchard can be carried out with sticks grafted by the nursery, plants grafted with a dormant bud (1-2 buds), with rootstocks of one year to graft in the field and also with grafted potted plants and in vegetation.
Peach farming systems can be classified into: volume shapes, vertical wall shapes and inclined wall shapes. All the shapes can be obtained more or less quickly depending on whether you prefer a pruning that is concerned above all with the desired shape or the early entry into production, limiting as much as possible cutting operations in the first years and reaching the desired shape later. Modern fruit growing tends increasingly to the second method of amortizing costs in the shortest possible time. In general, it can be said that the current technique tends to contain the development of plants in order to reduce working times.
The forms of breeding used in the different persicultural realities are: pot, delayed pot, Veronese pot, Palbidone, Palmetta, Pal-spindel, Fusetto, Ipsilon cross.
The choice of the sixth planting must take into account many elements: the rootstock, the fertility of the soil, the form of breeding, the availability of water, the variety, etc.
Production pruning is intended to regulate production and improve fruit quality. In the peach tree it starts very early: already in the second year several fruits appear and in the fourth or fifth year it passes to full production; the intensity of thinning of mixed branches must also be gradually higher until reaching 50-70% in the adult phase. Upon reaching full fruiting, utmost attention must be paid to maintaining the right balance between vegetation and production, distributing the latter on the primary and secondary branches in a rational way by removing the branches that have produced and returning cuts over one or more mixed branches of the right vigor, eliminating the too vigorous or badly inserted branches so as to keep the fruit branches as close as possible to the skeletal structure of the plant.
The varieties of industrial peaches (percoche), in general, produce better on darts (bunches of May) and on the toasts inserted on the branches that have already fruited (grondacci), therefore these should not be removed completely but shortened or thinned as for these variety the industry requires fruits of uniform and not large size.
During full fruiting it is necessary to perform one or two green operations to remove the suckers, thin out or bend the shoots in order to favor good lignification and keep the basal part of the crown covered.
Fruit thinning is the most important operation for obtaining commercial sized fruit to complement both pruning and production pruning. It should be performed in the fourth-sixth week (25-35 days) after full bloom: started early it ensures a better fruit size, an early ripening, better color and greater differentiation of buds for the following year but, in the varieties subject to splitting of the core, accentuates the defect. In very early varieties and under forcing tunnels, it can be useful to perform thinning in two times, a first energetic time and a second finishing one.
Proper nutrition is a fundamental element to ensure high production and quality levels of the peach orchard; it must take into account all the cultivation techniques applied and the real conditions of the soil properly analyzed. The extreme diversity of soil types and environments in which the peach tree is grown makes generalization of fertilization impossible; this must always be done on the basis of information relating to the physico-chemical characteristics resulting from soil analyzes. During the preparation of the soil it is always advisable to have an abundant organic fertilization both generalized and localized on the row or in the hole; in loose, coarse soils, it is advisable to divide the organic contributions by distributing part of them before planting and part at the end of the first vegetation, calculating that for every 100 quintals of manure approximately 50 nitrogen units, 30 phosphorus units, 40 units of potassium, trace elements, and improves the structure of the soil as well as the absorption of nutrients. The mineral fertilization must take into account the phosphorus and potassium endowments detected. With the new techniques the breeding period is reduced to almost a single vegetation, therefore from the first year it is necessary to intervene with fertilization according to the production; this should be guided by foliar diagnostics given the diversity of conditions that characterize the peach areas and the orchards themselves. Grassing promotes the absorption of both potassium and phosphorus. Micronutrients must be carefully considered using foliar diagnostics to evaluate the need for additions during the production phase.
The water requirements of the peach tree vary according to different factors: soil, rainfall, rootstock, variety, soil management, etc. It has been calculated that one hectare of peach orchard in production consumes from 2500 to 4000 cubic meters of water equal to 250 -400 mm of rain; considering, however, that the plants use only a part of the water that reaches them for rainfall or irrigation, the intake must be significantly higher.
The distribution of the total water volume must differ according to the different situations: more frequent in loose soils than in compact ones; more concentrated in spring-early summer for early varieties; abundant in the flowering phase, poor until the hardening of the core, stronger during the growth of the fruit, still limited after harvesting although continuous, to favor the differentiation of the buds and the accumulation of reserve substances.
The partial grassing of the peach orchard involves the need to abound with fertilizations and irrigation due to the nutritional and water competition that can compromise the vegetative activity and the quantity of the fruits. The grassing improves the porosity and permeability characteristics of the soil, it also increases the content of organic substance and the biological activity of the soil.
In peach orchards conducted in dry cultivation, grassing is not possible and it is necessary to resort to soil cultivation with the precaution of performing it in a very superficial way, avoiding execution in periods that are too humid not to compact and create problems of asphyxiation at the roots of the peach orchard .


To determine the optimal time to perform the collection, the use of penetrometers can be used, instruments that allow to determine the resistance to penetration of tips of known surface, even if for the peach tree we often resort to other parameters, including the control of the coloring of the epidermis , especially the background color.
The collection is generally carried out several times; percoche is excluded if mechanical harvesting is practiced. this operation can be done using traditional systems, that is, stairs or suitable collection wagons suitably equipped for the use of pallets.
The productivity of the fish farms can vary considerably: it is lower for the early cultivars while it tends to increase for the late ones; in the most productive cultivars it can reach up to 400 q / ha.
From farms, peaches normally pass to processing warehouses where sorting, brushing, and packaging in standardized packaging and for intermediate or late varieties for storage are provided.
As well as being consumed fresh in many preparations, peach is widely used in the production of jams, juices and peaches in syrup, dried peaches, mustard and candied fruit, brandy fruit, alcohol. In Italy the peach canning industry occupies a leading position plan.


Non-parasitic adversity
They are represented by difficult climatic conditions, by alterations due to nutritional and water shortages or excesses, by an incorrect use of pesticides or by air pollutants. The main adverse weather conditions are low temperatures, hail, snow, and wind. Early colds are harmful in peach trees abundantly and late fertilized with nitrogen and / or subject to excessive irrigation performed late and in all cases in which the vegetative activity of the plants is protracted over time. Severe cold winters can cause serious damage. Late colds are particularly harmful in the vicinity of flowering. Hail is capable of causing serious damage not only to production but also to vegetation. The wind is very harmful during flowering because it prevents the flight of the pollinators, as well as near ripening as it determines an early detachment of the fruits.
Virosis, mycoplasmosis and bacteriosis
The micropropagation technique has made it possible to market virosis-free material.
Nevertheless, in adult peach orchards it is still possible to find various viroses or mycoplasmosis such as: chlorotic curling, calico or yellow mosaic, dwarfism, annular spotting, chlorotic spotting, mosaic, mosaic rosette, rosette with saliciform leaves, warty peach, wood pitting, yellowish, rosette, disease X.
The bacteriosis that can be found on the peach tree are essentially represented by the radical tumor, bacterial cancer and bacterial maculation.
There are many parasitic cryptogams of the peach tree; among the many, the bubble, loidium, corineum, monilia, cancer, lead sickness, collar rot are more harmful.
Animal parasites
Among the insects we mention: aphids (black peach aphid, brown peach aphid, peach aphid aphid, green peach aphid), mealybugs (peach boat mealybug, speaker talk, white peach mealybug, S mealybug Josè), lanarsia, the eastern moth, the fruit fly; occasional damage can be caused by the fruit cutter, the golden bud cutter, the fruit bark beetle and the fruit bearing xyleb.
The mites present on the peach tree are essentially the red spider, the red spider mite, the brown spider mite of the fruit trees.
The nematodes that attack the peach tree are many and among them some of the genus Meloidogyne.

Video: How to prune peach u0026 nectarine trees (July 2022).


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