Commercial peach production in Idaho is dated back to 1870. Cultivars Early Red Haven, Late Redhaven, Redglobe, Early Hale, J.H. Hale, and Improved Elberta are among the popular cultivars of peaches that are still in production after many decades of their initial planting in Idaho (Yost and d'Easum, 1980; Idaho Tree Fruit Census, 2007). Peaches and nectarines (Prunus persica var. nectarina) constituted of 18% of the total fruit production in Idaho in 2006, and production of white-flesh peaches has increased in this state during recent years (Idaho Tree Fruit Census, 2007). Similar to the situation in other peach-producing states (Frecon et al., 2002), the best orchard sites are taken for development and urbanization in Idaho. However, new peach orchards are often planted in old apple (Malus ×domestica cv. Delicious) orchard sites. This increase is due to the national and international market demands for high-quality peaches produced under high desert conditions of intermountain western United States, including southwestern Idaho and central Washington. Warm and dry days and cool nights during the growing season create suitable conditions for growing high-quality peaches and nectarines in this region. The pressure for urbanization and the competitive nature of the world market mandate production of new cultivars with high quality that mature over several weeks for a wide market window. The California Tree Fruit Agreement (CTFA, 2003) and Huang et al. (2008) classified peaches into five categories, according to their period between full bloom and harvest: 1) “very early cultivars,” which have less than 65 d from full bloom to harvest, 2) “early cultivars,” which have 66 to 90 d from full bloom to harvest, 3) “mid-season cultivars,” which have 91 to 120 d from full bloom to harvest, 4) “late-season cultivars,” which have 121 to 150 d from full bloom to harvest, and 5) “very late cultivars,” which have more than 151 d from full bloom to harvest. Cultivars in each group have their advantages and disadvantages, and they are planted according to the marketing outlet and strategy of each grower. Okie et al. (2008) have described the history, quality attributes, marketing status, and breeding strategies of various peach cultivars in different regions to fulfill the needs of today's peach market. According to that report, most breeding for fresh market peaches follows similar protocols. Advanced selections and cultivars from in-house as well as other breeding programs are evaluated to find superior parents. Parents with superior characteristics are crossed by hand to produce seedlings that combine the desirable qualities of the parents.
Consumer preference for white-fleshed nectarines and peaches may vary according to individual consumer preference and ethnic background, while yellow-fleshed peaches and nectarines are generally accepted by most consumers. In general, white-fleshed peaches and nectarines are popular among consumers of Asian ethnic backgrounds, but these cultivars are not well known by other American consumers (Bruhn et al., 1991). Many white-fleshed peaches are highly susceptible to bruising and have a low acid content (Brooks and Olmo, 1972 and 1997; Crisosto et al., 2001; Okie, 1998; Whealy and Demuth, 1993). Crisosto et al. (2001) reported that a large variability in titratable acidity (TA), soluble solids concentrations (SSC), bruising and flesh browning susceptibility, and market life was found for several white-fleshed peach and nectarine cultivars under conditions in the San Joaquin Valley of California. During ripening off the tree, SSC did not increase nor did TA decrease; thus, the SSC/TA remained the same in these stone fruit (Crisosto et al., 2001). Because of these characteristics, it was suggested that white-fleshed peaches and nectarines can be eaten when still firm if hard texture is not a concern. Frecon et al. (2002) compared the peach and nectarines developed in New Jersey with some white-fleshed cultivars from other locations and found that ‘Carolina Belle’, ‘Klondlike’, ‘Blushing Star’, ‘Sugar Giant’, ‘Snow Giant’, and ‘Arctic Jay’ showed promise for planting on the basis of fruit quality.
In spite of the increasing commercial importance of and the increasing trend in peach production, there is no comprehensive information on the bloom and harvest dates, yield, or quality of these fruit in the southwestern Idaho of the intermountain western region of the United States. The goal of this long-term project was to investigate bloom date, maturity and harvest date, yield, and fruit quality of various yellow- and white-fleshed peaches under conditions of southwestern Idaho.
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