I remember sitting at my grandma Carlson’s kitchen table eating freshly-picked Babcock peaches. I like them on the green side and crunchy because that’s the way I ate them as a child. Sliced on top of cereal with milk poured over them, yum! My grandparents bought their farm near Dinuba, CA in 1942 and planted a family orchard as a barrier between the house and the road. The Babcocks were the favorite of many of my cousins who visited the farm regularly. According to an article titled, “White as Snow, Sweet as Honey,” by Ed Laivo, http://www.davewilson.com/homegrown/gardencompass/gc04_sept_oct_01.html the Babcock variety was introduced in 1933. It became a West Coast favorite and is still popular today.
History of White Peaches and Nectarines
According to Laivo, the white peaches that frequently resulted from cross-breeding were discarded by hybridizers because the market only wanted firm, yellow-fleshed fruit. The white peaches were easily bruised and considered useless for commercial sales. That changed in the 1980s when the Asian markets opened and demanded sub-acid white-fleshed fruits and were willing to pay a premium price. Mike’s dad planted Babcocks in the 60s and we planted some after we bought Mike’s grandparent’s place in 1979. At one time we were the third largest white-flesh peach growers in the state of CA with 9 acres.
Early varieties of white peaches were grown in France and England in the 1600s. The flat variety of white peaches (so-called Donut peach) came from China in the 1800s. Peaches and nectarines are nearly identical, genetically. Many peaches and nectarines have both peach and nectarine ancestors, according to Laivo. The first of the newer firm, sweet-tasting nectarines was a Babcock descendant, Arctic Rose, developed in the 1990s. We grow the Arctic Star, Arctic Sweet, and Arctic Jay varieties as well as our newest variety, Polar Lite.
The Finest White Peach of All Time
Mike’s grandfather took pride in growing the best-tasting fruit available. He decided to plant the Nectar white peach, considered by some to be the finest white peach of all time (See Naylor Organics: Our Farm Story page for more). We have continued that tradition with our Goldline peach. Mike was introduced to the variety by Burchell Nurseries in the late 1980s. Nobody else wanted it because it was so delicate and was not deemed suitable for commercial sales (sound familiar?). The flavor reminded Mike of the old Nectar peach, so he thought it might have potential. Initially he planted 1 acre of trees (150) as a test plot. The fruit grew large and was a true “sink” or “water” peach like the Nectar. The flavor was unparalleled. They required extra care in picking and packing, though. We even made a special-sized wooden gift box one year for marketing them. They also required close communication with the produce managers so that they would not be ruined by rough handling. This extra time and care was rewarded every time someone tasted a Goldline for the first time and we watched their eyes roll back as they bit into the flesh and the juices dribbled down their chins. The Goldline is the last fruit we pick each year and ripens in late July to early August.
So, why do YOU like white peaches and nectarines?