L.F. Hough
Since we are building on work by peach breeders in all 6 continents, and some of the programs have continued for more than half a century, we should be able to have the perfect peach! What do we think of as perfection?

In China, for thousands of years, the peach has been considered a source of health and beauty. Variations on the painting showing a healthy, happy old man carrying a very large, white, pink blushed peach are the most frequent designs of New Years Greetings. The caption says: "I am bearing the peach from heaven. I am happy that I will have a long life." This classical Chinese concept of excellence is illustrated in the following anecdote: "Out in western China - I am soorry, but I don't remember the name of the village - they grown a very fine peach. (Forgive me, the name of the cultivar escapes me for the moment.) It is large and beautiful. The white pubescence sparkles like newly fallen snow in the sunshine, and the pink blush is more tantalizing than a maiden's lips. It is sweet and truly delicious, so juicy you dont' eat it. You puncture the skin and drink it with a straw!"

Now we are not developing peach cultivars that will only be grown in the garden just outside the banquet hall. The best peach orchards may be far from large centers of consumption. We must have fruit that can be stored for several weeks during long distance shipment, during market gluts, or at the end of the growing season, without developing internal browning or breakdown, or the development of bad flavor. Consequently, this fantastic Chinese concept of excellence can not be an appropriate objective for us. But there is a lesson here.

The aesthetic values: beauty, flavor, and aroma of this heavently fruit should continue to be important in our new cultivars, because they will be in competition in the mind of the consumer with other good fruits from the rest of this earth! We should also have a concern for nutritional values: vitamins, minerals, and the pulp with its pectins that are important for the regular functioning of our digestive systems.

Although we do want firm, melting freestones for long distance shipment, in the case of the large, pretty nectarine cultivars produced in California, the industry has abused the genetic potential for firm flesh. When the fruit is picked firm (immature) enough for shipping and subsequent shelf life of more than a week, the fruit never does develop its full flavor potential.

With some more breeding to add flavor, Dr. Yoshida's (1976)

Hough, L.F. (1985). PERSPECTIVE FOR PEACH BREEDING FOR THE CULTIVARS FOR 2000 AD. Acta Hortic. 173, 11-20
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1985.173.1

Acta Horticulturae