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[nafex] FW: Skinny Peach Trees

From: "ARS News Service" <isnv@ars-grin.gov>
To: "ARS News List" <ars-news@ars-grin.gov>
Subject: Skinny Peach Trees
Date: Mon, Dec 3, 2001, 6:45 AM

Skinny Peach Trees: Good for Commercial Growers and Home Gardeners


ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Judy McBride, (301) 504-1628, jmcbride@ars.usda.gov
December 3, 2001

Skinny peach trees under evaluation in experimental orchards across the
United States and in three foreign countries could give homeowners two for
the price of one: an attractive, space-saving tree plus sweet and juicy,
full-size peaches.

Commercial peach growers would reap even more benefit from the new tree
forms--a "columnar" and an "upright"--developed by Agricultural Research
Service scientists. Both come from conventional breeding at ARS' Appalachian
Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, W.Va.

The columnar, or "pillar," form maintains a diameter of about 5 feet, fully
grown, and would fit neatly into a tiny town-house yard, according to ARS
horticulturist Ralph Scorza. In commercial orchards, these compact trees can
be planted much closer together than conventional trees that branch out to
16 feet across.

That translates into many more peaches per acre, while land and production
costs remain about the same. One estimate shows grower profits could
increase by 20 to 50 percent, according to Scorza. Another advantage of
high-density planting: Growers may get a profitable crop the second year
after planting, when the pickings would be too slim in a conventional
orchard to make harvesting worthwhile.

For growers who may not be ready for such a radical change, Scorza selected
the upright tree that reaches eight to 10 feet across. Left unpruned, both
tree forms reach a height of 12 to 15 feet after several years.

The columnar form has two copies of the gene that sends the branches
skyward, while the upright has only one copy. But both selections produce
yellow-fleshed, dessert-type peaches with smooth, melting flesh that is
sweet and aromatic. They are firm fleshed, store well, and soften when
completely ripe.

Because their forms are so different from conventional trees, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture has filed a patent application on both. ARS is the
USDA's chief scientific research agency.

Read more about the trees in the December issue of Agricultural Research
magazine, online at:

This item is one of the news releases and story leads that ARS Information
distributes on weekdays to fax and e-mail subscribers. You can also get the
latest ARS news on the World Wide Web at
* Feedback and questions to ARS News Service via e-mail: Info@ars.usda.gov.
* ARS Information Staff, 5601 Sunnyside Ave., Room 1-2251, Beltsville MD
20705-5128, (301) 504-1617, fax 504-1648.

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