Growing keen on peach potential

05/01/2008 02:00:00 AM
Steve Heisler, contributing writer

That's where Evelyn Harrison, a representative in marketing and development with the Florida Department of Agriculture, and her husband, Les, come in. Les, an extension agent for north Florida's Leon County, wrote a grant that was approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in June 2005.

The $49,000 grant allowed for a market research project to determine Florida's peach potential. An ongoing consumer interest survey and taste test in five cities around the country will be used to provide information to growers and scientists about the fruit's commercial viability.

A previous study of three control groups in Tallahassee, from high schools to a retirement community, resulted in a unanimous juice-dribbling-and lip-smacking thumbs up.

"It's a tremendous marketing opportunity," Les says. "Nobody else has peaches at that time in the hemisphere. The round peach is what the marketplace is demanding and the growers are there to satisfy that market demand."

FLORIDA VARIETIES

FloridaPrince

Standard for a low-chill, early-ripening peach; susceptible to bacterial spot.

FloridaGlo

Large fruit for its season; firm, nonbrowning white flesh; ripens about

1 week after Flordaprince.

UFSun

Low chilling requirement, early ripening with large fruit for its season. Suggested for trial in south-central Florida.

UFBeauty

Low chilling requirement, early-ripening, large fruit. Suggested for trial in central Florida.

UFBlaze

Moderately low chilling requirement, ripens early with good fruit size. Suggested for trial in north-central Florida.

UFGold

Large fruit for its season; non-melting flesh; excellent flavor and attractiveness; moderate flower bud set. Fruit set can be adversely affected by high night temperatures.

TropicBeauty

Excellent shape, color, and firmness; susceptible to bacterial spot.

UF2000

Large fruit with non-melting flesh; excellent shape and flavor; ripens in late May in north-central Florida.

UFO

Saucer-shaped fruit with yellow,

non-melting flesh and excellent flavor.

Flordadawn

One of the first commercially shipped peaches to ripen in North America (usually late April in north Florida); good color, shape, and flavor; heavy, prolonged bloom; blooms early; fruit are relatively small but acceptable for their season.


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