A History Lesson
- Peaches have been cultivated in China for more than 4,000 years and have always been a favored food of kings, emperors, and rulers of all types.
- Although it came from China, the peach was grown throughout the ancient world and it shows up in the literature of the ancient Chinese, Greeks, and Romans.
- Alexander the Great is credited with bringing the peach from the Mediterranean countries into Europe as part of his military conquest.
- Peaches made their way across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time with the Spanish explorers in the 1500’s.
- Thomas Jefferson grew peaches at Monticello although they would not become a widely cultivated crop in North America until the 1800’s.
A Peach by Any Other Name…
- The scientific name for the species, persica, comes from the ancient Roman name for the fruit, malum persicum, which translated means Persian Apple.
- The word peach comes from the French version of Persian Apple, pêche, which then became the English word, peach.
- Although peaches got their name because people thought they came from Persia, they are actually native to North West China.
- Peaches and nectarines are actually the same species; the differences in the two are caused by a recessive gene that makes nectarines have smooth skin rather than the fuzzy skin found on peaches.
- Peaches grow on trees and are also related to cherries, plums, and almonds.
- While there are several varieties of peaches, there are two different kinds cultivated today; clingstones, which feature flesh that it tightly attached to the stone or seed in the middle, and freestones, which do not.
- Peaches can have white flesh or yellow flesh and most feature a primarily peach colored skin with some red mixed in.
- Peaches can vary in flavor ranging from very sweet with very little acidity to tangy and acidic with a touch of sweetness.
A Global Perspective
- China produces the most peaches and nectarines in the world.
- The type of peach favored in different regions differs based on world georgraphy. Western countries like Europe and North America tend to favor peaches that are more on the acidic side while Asian countries prefer their peaches sweet.
- Peaches have very specific climate requirements in order to grow. They do not grow well in the tropics because they need a period of colder temperatures to grow properly or in areas where parts of the year are very cold because very low temps at certain times can kill the buds for the coming season.
- Peaches need to be planted in areas where they will get fill sun in soil that is nitrogen rich.
- Peaches require a chilling period that can range from hundreds to more than a thousand hours of colder temperatures.
- Peach trees should be planted in early winter and the flowers must be pruned and thinned out partway through the growing season in order to get the best quality fruit.
Local Sources for Arizona Peaches
- Apple Annie’s Produce and Pumpkins in Willcox
- Briggs & Eggers Orchards in Willcox
- Browns Orchard in Willcox
- Date Creek Ranch in Wickenburg
- Fort Bowie Vineyards in Bowie
- Mother Nature’s Farm in Gilbert
- RSI Growers in Glendale
- Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek
- Tonopah Rob’s Vegetable Farm in Tonopah
- Truman Ranch in Surprise