» Archive for September, 2009

Great New Fruits

Saturday, September 26th, 2009 by Jenny Watts

Each year the list of mouth-watering summer fruits grows longer with new hybrids introduced and sometimes antique varieties making a come back. Home grown fruit is becoming increasingly popular among those who have memories of that delectable plum they tasted many years ago. “They just don’t sell them like that anymore.”

So here are some new varieties you may want to “discover” for yourself. “Sunburst” Cherry has extra large, sweet fruit of excellent flavor. Black when ripe, this tree produces heavy yields and is self-fertile.

“Double Delight” Nectarine has sensational fruit plus magnificent, double pink flowers. This dark red-skinned freestone is consistently rated as the best-flavored yellow nectarine with a sweet, rich flavor.

Just the word peach starts my mouth watering. But how about “Strawberry Free” Peach. This old favorite is very sweet, aromatic and juicy with superb, delicate flavor. The light cream-colored flesh has a strawberry blush and separates easily from the pit.

“Arctic Supreme” Peach is a two-time taste test winner. White inside with red-over-cream colored skin, the flavor is sweet with just a hint of tanginess. The large, clingstone fruit reaches peak quality shortly after picking in late August.

“Nubiana” Plum is a fruit stand favorite with its purplish-black skin and amber flesh. The sweet, flavorful fruit has very little tartness at either the skin or the pit. It is an excellent addition to the home orchard.

“Flavor Queen” Pluot is an exquisite new plum-apricot hybrid. With candy-like sweetness and a wonderfully pleasing flavor, this pluot looks almost like an apricot with its greenish-yellow skin and amber-orange flesh. You’ll have better luck in our climate with pluots than with apricots.

Who can resist a name like “Coffee Cake” Persimmon? The unique spicy-sweet flavor of this non-astringent persimmon evokes images of cinnamon pastries and hot coffee. Plant it near a “Fuyu” Persimmon tree for cross-pollination and an extended harvest.

Winter is the time to plant fruit trees of all kinds from bare-root trees available at local nurseries.

Pluots and Apriums

Saturday, September 26th, 2009 by Jenny Watts

Plant breeder Luther Burbank was the first to cross plums and apricots, thought to be impossible at the time. His goal was to produce an apricot-like fruit which would bear consistently in our wet north coast climate where apricots fail to set fruit most years. In addition to a delicious variety developed by Burbank, there are new hybrids developed by Floyd Zaiger, called Pluots and Apriums. Pluots, which are 75% plum parentage and 25% apricot, do well here while Apriums, which are 75% apricot and 25% plum are difficult to grow here.

Pluots are smooth skinned, like plums, while Apriums are slightly fuzzy, like apricots, but they have unique flavors and generally higher sugar levels than the standard Japanese plum varieties. The new fruits, which are called interspecifics, are complex hybrids of plum and apricot that are created by making several generations of crosses and selecting for desirable traits such as high sugar content.

Pluot and Aprium trees were introduced first to the home garden market in 1989. Some Pluots have strange, speckled skins, but it is the taste that wins people over. Pluots do not have the bitterness in the skin that plums often have, and Apriums have a more full-bodied flavor than an apricot.

“Dapple Dandy” is a pinkish colored pluot with maroon flecks across the skin. It is very unique looking. The taste is definitely like a half plum, half apricot. It is very large and highly flavored. It is also known as “Dinosaur Egg” because of its speckled, egg-like appearance.

“Flavor King” is a wonderful tasting pluot bred with Santa Rosa plum. It is very large and resembles a huge heart-shaped Santa Rosa. One of the most highly flavored pluots ever developed, it has a sweet, spicy flavor. The inner color bright red tinged with yellow-orange near the pit.

“Flavor Supreme” is a taste test winner with sweet, richly flavored, firm red flesh. The skin is mottled greenish-maroon and it bears early in the summer with a flavor similar to Elephant Heart plums.

For a taste experience and something different in the orchard, try a Pluot this year. Fruit trees of all kinds are available to plant especially during “bare root season.”

Plums in the Home Orchard

Saturday, September 26th, 2009 by Jenny Watts

There are two types of plums that are commonly grown and they have different origins. European Plums originally came from Central Asia, in the area around the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains. They were introduced into Europe during Roman times and, like most fruit trees, they were brought to America very early in our country’s development.

Japanese Plums probably originated in China and were introduced to Japan in the 16th century. It was one of the last fruit species to arrive in the United States, and was only introduced into California about 1870. Most of the Japanese plums currently grown in California are either the direct or indirect result of work done by Luther Burbank.

European plums can be used either fresh or as prunes. Prunes are simply plums that develop enough sugar to be dried to the pit without fermenting. They may either be dried (as is the bulk of the California prune crop) or sold fresh. Fresh market European plums cannot be dried and are eaten the same way as all Japanese plums.

Both European and Japanese plums can be grown here. Japanese plums generally bloom earlier than European plums, but both may need frost protection in the spring. Prunes require a long, warm summer to obtain the right level of sugars, so plant them in a warm, sunny location.

Of the prune-plums, French is most widely grown in California, and accounts for the dried fruit in the markets. Sugar and Italian prunes can be used either fresh or dried. Green Gage is a European plum which is a large green fruit that is eaten fresh.

Santa Rosa is the best known Japanese plum with its purple skin and amber flesh. Elephant Heart is very large with sweet, juicy red flesh. Emerald Beaut has a light green skin and yellowish flesh. It is very highly rated in taste tests.

Most plums need a pollenizer: a different plum tree to cross-pollinate. Santa Rosa is one of the few self-fruitful Japanese plums. Of the European plums, Green Gage, Italian and Sugar are self-fruitful. French is partially self-fruitful and will bear a larger crop with another plum nearby.

Plum trees will not crop every year in this area, but they are easy to grow and generally pest-free so they should be included in your home orchard to enjoy when the crop comes in.