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My cherimoya, shortly before it became smoothie fodder.

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January 3, 2006

Private Peach Breeding Programs

Most fruit breeding is a costly, time-consuming endeavor, and as such has mostly been the realm of either government researchers or hobbyists working on a small scale. That's why I was surprised to note (in discussions on the NAFEX mailing list), that there are at least two signficant private peach breeding programs in this country, Paul Friday's Flamin' Fury Peaches, and Fruit Acre Farms Stellar Series of peaches. Both are located in Michigan, and both seem to have gotten good reviews from growers and researchers. As strongly as I feel that governments ought to be supporting fruit breeding, the reality is that funding for such things continues to dwindle, and programs like these will be needed to pick up the slack. I hope breeding continues to be a profitable and rewarding enterprise for them both.

Anyway, I'd heard of both series before, but I guess I'd never thought about where they came from. I'm curious to know if there's some connection between them...there's clearly a rivalry there, and if you read a bit you'll notice that the Fruit Acres' breeder, Annette Bjorge, says her father, who started the program, was named James Friday. Seems like a big coincidence, but maybe there are just lots of Fridays running around growing peaches in Michigan?

I'll be back home and back to work tomorrow, and hopefully I can arrange for some interesting posts inspired by the new books. I've been enjoying my new copy of Janick and Moore's Advances in Fruit Breeding while watching TV tonight.

Update: I was sufficiently excited to learn about two private peach breeders I didn't know about that I forgot a couple I did:

Zaiger Genetics. Actually, they do a whole lot more than just peaches. I find all the goofy names they give their various interspecific hybrids a little obnoxious, but it's hard to deny that they've been productive, and that some of the results are pretty good (though to be honest I've only tasted a handful of their many, many releases).

Sun World, who both breed and produce a range of fruit crops, also has developed some peaches. I tend to think of them more in terms of grape breeding, particularly the 'Sugraone' (aka 'Superior Seedless') grape.

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At 1/05/2006 06:17:00 PM, Anonymous Matthew Shugart said...

Zaiger has brought forth some amazing fruits, like Flavor King pluot, Flavor Delight aprium, and Emerald Beaut plum, just to name a few.

Agreed on the names, although some of the varieties have gotten even worse names in the grocery produce marketing business. For instance, the Flavor Queen pluot is marketed as Dinosaur Ball and the Dapple Dandy pluot as Dinosaur Egg.

At 1/06/2006 12:49:00 AM, Blogger Evil Fruit Lord said...

I was really impressed when I learned just how extensive Zaiger's program was. I have a soft spot for plum/apricot crosses, so Zaiger's scores points there...I think it's partly a little rubbing off from my fondness for Luther Burbank.

I had thought 'Dinosaur Egg' was one of their's... was surprised not to see it on the list.

The things people name cultivars--'Dinosaur Ball' is...well...words fail...

At 4/07/2007 10:30:00 AM, Blogger Chip said...

You may have made a reference to this elsewhere (I'm new to but excited about the Fruit Blog), but Zaiger is largely responsible for the popularization of white flesh peaches and nectarines in the U.S.

The renaming happens at the packing house/sales company level, not (usually) the grocery/market level. But it's incredibly confusing nonetheless. I've seen plums sold as pluots, pluots sold as plums, Dapple Dandy sold as "Dapple Dandy" and "Dinosaur Egg" in the same store, and so on.

But for sales companies representing growers and packing houses, it's a very competitive market with fewer and fewer retail buyers, so every little thing helps.

This year, we're going to see SpongeBob Squarepants-branded plums and Nemo-branded peaches. Mayhem.

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