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.