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Low-chill Peach Production in Florida
The Florida peach industry has its roots in one of the earliest
settlements in America, when Europeans brought peaches into St.
Augustine, FL in 1565. Although peaches are a temperate crop,
requiring significant chill accumulation, stone fruit breeders at the
University of Florida (UF) have successfully released low-chill
peach varieties for production in subtropical climates. Varieties
such as ‘Flordaprince’ and ‘TropicBeauty’ are grown worldwide
and have become standard varieties in many subtropical locations.
In addition, a multi-institutional breeding program with
UF, University of Georgia, and the USDA-ARS in Byron, GA,
have released a number of mid-chill varieties in the 400–600 chill
unit range. Florida had a successful peach industry in the 1980s,
before devastating freezes reduced acreage in the state. Recently,
growers seeking to diversify their agricultural operations have
re-discovered low-chill peaches and acreage continues to grow
throughout central and south central Florida. Early-ripening lowchill
varieties, such as ‘UFSun’, ‘TropicBeauty’, and ‘UFBest’,
have short fruit developmental periods (FDP) that allow growers
to take advantage of early domestic market windows and
competitive prices. In addition to short FDPs, low-chill varieties
released from UF have non-melting flesh that results in a product
that can withstand extended ripening time on the tree, with firmer
textures. These non-melting flesh varieties withstand packing
and shipping challenges better than melting-flesh varieties as
the product is shipped throughout Florida and the southeastern
United States. For more information on low and mid-chill peach
varieties released in cooperation with UF, please visit the Florida
Foundation Seed Producers (http://www.ffsp.net), or UF Stone
Fruit Extension (http://www.hos.ufl.edu/extension/stonefruit).
For more information on the stone fruit project in Florida,
please contact:

Mercy Olmstead, Ph.D.
Stone Fruit Extension Specialist
University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
2135 Fifield Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611-0690
PH: 352-273-4772

Front cover: Apricot breeding selection in full bloom.
Back cover (clockwise): ‘UFBlaze’ (upper right),
‘TropicBeauty’ (center), ‘UFSun’ (lower right), and
‘Flordaprince’ (lower left). (all photos: M. Olmstead)

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283