I just read the bulk of this thread for the first. I can’t believe I’ve missed so much of it.
Lon Rombough’s death was such a loss to fruit breeding (especially grapes). He was a very valuable contributor on Nafex (when that forum was the major fruit forum in the earlier days of the Internet). If he were still alive he could offer so much here.
I enjoy reading the breeding progress here, but might offer a few comments, based upon my knowledge, however limited it be.
- Nectarines are simply a fuzzless peach, with the dominant gene being the fuzz. I don’t see any genetic advantage to crossing various peaches/nectarines to try to come up with a new fuzzless peach (i.e. nectarine) for the sake of having a fuzzless peach. Fuzz is a turn-off to mouth-feel, but nect X nect might be a better probability to come up with a superior nect vs. nect X peach. I will concede nectarines generally have a more acidic flavor, but that trait wouldn’t at all be entirely attributable to nectarines. Plenty of nects have been developed as sub-acid, and plenty of peaches are acidic.
2, I would caution the assumption that all Indian Free are self-sterile, and so guaranteed to be bullet proof in hybrid crossing. First, my understanding is that the self-sterility in these peach varieties are the result of male sterility. In other words the pollen is sterile. That would negate efforts using pollen from self-sterile peaches to fertilize any other fruits. In other words, these peaches could not be used as a pollen donor to fertilize other fruits, as has been suggested earlier.
Additionally, not all of the self-sterile peaches are going to be “self-sterile”. I’ve read 5 to 10 percent of J.H. Hale (another “self-sterile” peach) are not self-sterile, but in fact self-fertile, depending on the environment.
Lastly, some of the offspring of these self-sterile peaches are in fact fully self-fertile. This can be significant if a nursery is not selling a true to name variety of Indian Free, but a seedling to it’s customers. I believe this has occurred with peach cultivars before.
I encourage people experimenting with breeding experiments, but would caution the only way to be assured of successful hybrid crosses would be genetic testing (though I’m sure it’s expensive). Phenotypic analysis (i.e. observation of physical characteristics) isn’t very definitive.
For peaches, there are wide and vast phenotypic differences, in the shape, color, and size of the fruit. Some peaches have a very prominent apex (i.e. pointed) and some virtually non-existent (very smooth-generally smooth apex is preferred commercially because it doesn’t “poke” the other peaches stacked next to it). Color varies from green to double red. Size and pit to flesh ratio varies widely (obviously large size and small pit to flesh ratio is attractive commercially).
All that said, some of the most important characteristics of a new and promising peach for me would be:
-Flavor (mostly brix, but some balance of acid)
-Productivity in marginal years. Including winter hardiness and frost tolerance (or late blooming)
-Bac. spot resistance