Uncommon nectarine and peach scion wood

The Santa Clara California chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers will be selling the following scion wood at their annual scion exchange this month -

January 13, $5 per scion. The following varieties will be available:
Kit Donnell peach,
Raspberry Red nectarine,
Speckled Egg nectarine,
Silk Road nectarine,
Summer Silk nectarine,
Maria Gold nectarine,
Crimson Belle Nectarine, and
Tesoro Peach

This wood is being sold rather than being given away because these varieties were developed by CRFG members.

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Do you know if Crimson Belle is the variety that had field identifier R0, T68?

I don’t know. I don’t keep up to date on peaches and nectarines.

I didn’t find much info about these varieties. Some of these are sold by Raintree that has short descriptions and some photos on their site: http://www.raintreenursery.com/Peaches-and-Nectarines-Hybridizer-Group/. Also a little bit of info here: CRFG Golden Gate: Monterey Bay Chapter Scion and Stone Fruit Trees. If anybody has additional info, please share. Thanks!

As a disclaimer, my post is probably going to sound somewhat negative. Not my intent. Also as a further disclaimer, I’ve grown very few CRFG varieties, so I’m not specifically referring to anything they offer. My experience growing stone fruit is strictly in the Midwest.

I just want to point out a few things about backyard breeding.

Many backyard growers have dreams of stumbling on a great new variety by happenstance (and getting rich and famous from their discovery). But just like the lottery, the odds of winning are extraordinarily minuscule.

There is a thread on the forum about stone fruit breeding with hundreds of posts, and I’ve hardly read any of it, so I’m at a disadvantage there. To be sure, there are probably serious hobby stone fruit breeders sharing on that thread, and don’t want to detract from their efforts, but the odds are slated against any backyard grower, from a numbers and scientific evaluation standpoint.

I once read Jim Friday planted 8000 seedlings to come up with a dozen varieties selected. That’s probably close to a correct numerical ratio for a peach fruit improvement breeding program.

I think it’s easy for a small grower (like me) to wish he’s hit upon something big, and there’s a bias in that direction.

To wit, I planted about a dozen peach seedlings several years ago, which I never got around to grafting. This last summer many of them fruited. I tasted all that fruited. There was one I thought could be a standout. My son was pretty excited and wanted me to pursue perhaps a patented variety. But in the end, I compared it to some of the best of that harvest window, and it was a notch down from some established cultivars of that window (like Julyprince).

This is an important point when breeding as a backyard grower. Commercial breeders have lots and lots of cultivars in which to compare their new seedlings, and large blocks of trees against to measure a standardized comparison. But backyard growers are at a disadvantage in which to compare their new discoveries.

In my case, I’ve grown over a hundred different peach varieties at the same time. This gives a lot of objective comparison for the few new varieties I grew. But commercial breeders can multiply that number many fold by leveraging their comparisons from many commercial growers, over many locales, which gives a huge amount of test data.

I understand the positive attributes of commercial growers can be different than home growers, but the numerical principle is the same. I once read a comment by the somewhat renowned Ed Fackler (of the Midwest Apple Improvement org). He said he was continually looking for insect resistant apples (a worthy and premier goal of a homeowner orchard). He said he traveled many miles all over the U.S. examining trees and gathering scionwood from backyard orchardists who claimed the apple tree in their backyard was completely insect resistant, only to find that when Ed grafted that wood in his commercial apple orchard, the variety was no more insect resistant than any of his other apple varieties.

All that said, I don’t know how extensive CRFG tests their varieties, but I suspect it’s not nearly as extensive as someone like California stone fruit breeder Chris Floyd Zaiger, which is probably ones best odds in finding something truly new and special, which grows well in an arid climate.

Certainly it just takes one “lucky hit” in fruit breeding, and I’ll not deny that has happened, but by far, the best varieties (however one defines best) come from breeding programs with very large numbers of test subjects evaluated against large numbers of improved cultivars.

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I have several peaches from this CRFG breeding program and am very positive on them. I think the wording in the original message does not make it clear, this is not a backyard breeding program but a big effort by CRFG which includes several commercial orchardists including peach expert Andy Mariani. It still may not be up to the scale of the big commercial breeders, but these big breeders are primarily looking for size, productivity, shipping durability, and looks whereas the CRFG effort is primarily focused on unusual attributes and taste (or so is my understanding). I like my Kit Donnell a lot, it is similar to the Crawford types in taste but sizes up well and produces better. I also have their Athena which I prefer to its parent Pallas. Its too bad they have so many nectarines now, I am more interested in peaches.

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Yeah… when are those guys gonna release Athena to the rest of us sad sacks? It sounds awesome. Oh well; early bird gets the worm.

Very true Scott. The CRFG program is not small and they are not amateurs. I didn’t focus on it much because I’m not a peach/nectarine type of guy. Having said that, I have three of their trees and they all produce excellent fruit. And you are absolutely correct about their focus - they are trying to develop specific flavors and textures rather than specific commercial attributes. And if anyone is not sure who Andy Mariani is, here’s where they can learn more - http://andysorchard.com/

I’d like to try Athena as well. I got one harvest out of Pallas before killing it, while transplanting from a pot and it was very good. Athena is supposed to be related (I think), so it sounds like a good one.

Sounds like it to me as well- something like Red Raspberry isn’t really a mainstream fruit. That is what really interests me about the Sweet 16 x Goldrush from MAIA.

Here’s another page with some info:

Kit Donnell (peach)—Named after one of our former chairmen, this peach combines old-fashioned peach
characteristics—such as almost all-yellow coloring in a freestone fruit—with high productivity and large size.
Raspberry Red (nectarine)—A rare nectarine with rich red flesh reminiscent of the old “Indian Red”-style peaches. The
flavor is unique, rich and complex, sweet with a tartness similar to raspberries.
Silk Road (nectarine)—An all yellow nectarine that traces its recent ancestry to Tashkent. Medium sized fruit ripen in midAugust
and have a rich flavor and juicy texture to a good apricot. The seed kernel is sweet like an almond.
August Snow (nectarine)—A large white nectarine easily as large as Heavenly White, which it resembles, less prone to
Spreckled Egg (nectarine)—A meaty, juicy, oblong fruit with a speckled blush and high-quality, classic nectarine flavor.
Crimson Crawford (peach)—Much like Baby Crawford, but with a bright red blush. Ripens a week after Baby Crawford.

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Sounds somewhat like the Midwest Apple Improvement Assoc. which would add a lot of credibility, imo. Certainly Andy Mariani is no lightweight.

I didn’t intend for my above listed reservations to be restricted to only backyard evaluations either. I’ve experienced plenty of disappointments from peaches which had good reviews from professionals.

Even the latest reviews of east coast peaches from Jerry Frecon (posted on another thread) had me questioning some of the conclusions.

I guess my main point is that people shouldn’t think a certain variety is a “must have” based on the description. I’ve lived through that several times. Read about a variety I had to have, only to find out it was nothing special.

I still do that occasionally, but less as I’ve gotten older.

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So…interested, but what does anyone know about these varieties in Zone 5a or thereabouts?

They’re interesting, but especially if I’m paying for scion, I’d hate to find it rots or the scion itself dies at graftline the first winter… :frowning:

Isn’t this event on Saturday,January the 14th? Brady

Yes, it’s the 14th not the 13th as I originally posted

I’m attaching a flyer with some more information on these.Scion 2017 table document.pdf (327.6 KB)


I just heard a talk by Andy Mariani in which he explained what they did. Just because Zaiger/DWN test 50,000 varieties for each commercial hit does not mean that such a ratio is what it takes to develop a good fruit.

Luther Burbank didn’t develop varieties on that scale, yet it would be a pretty hard to argue anyone else did more for flavor, or that anyone else has created a more lasting legacy of varieties.

Those who breed for commercial have a lot of traits to select for - firmness, shipability, color, consistency, ripening all at once, how long it stays fresh, etc.

Mariani and CRFG care about taste only. He uses simple Mendelian traits and then he says he “picks the parents well.”

I first tasted Crimson Belle a year ago. High flavor - high sugar, high acid, very aromatic. I think it is the best nectarine I have ever tasted. It is soft, and would never succeed commercially, but it is late and seems to be low chill (highly productive for him every year despite having chill limitations) so it fills a niche for the backyard grower. It is like “Snow Queen” in August, with no cracks.

I just wanted to put a plug for this.


Finding a tree that does well in it’s soil and weather conditions is much more common than finding one that does does well in various soils and weather conditions. We sometimes buy a plant with a description we like and eventually we remove it because it does so poorly on our property. A backyard breeder may find an exceptional tree but he should realize that those characteristics my only exist in his location.

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I was wondering if there is a good site to find chill hours for varieties of fruit trees I am interested in?

I would also be interested in some info about chill hour requirements for these varieties. Does anyone have that info?

Wanted to mention that I tasted Tesoro Peach at Andys Orchard 10 days ago.
Flavor was excellent. Very sweet and high acid. More acid than June Pride but also very high sugars. If you like high acid peaches you will love this one.

But for my palette I could may be eat 1 Tesoro but much prefer the low acid galaxy that was sold at the same time. Galaxy was outstanding at Andys orchard this year.