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Aromatic Peach Veroma®

The green-fleshed aromatic peaches Veroma®

Aromapfirsiche Veroma Pico (Prunus mira-Hybride)Within the Lubera® breeding programme we are intensively searching for peaches that have not just been bred for southern climates, but that can be cultivated reliably and long-term in our region. Through the crossbreeding and backcrossing of Prunus mira, the Tibetan peach, with cultivated varieties, we have bred the Veroma® peach family, which is hardier, more aromatic and even more productive than the well-known cultivated peach. In addition, there is a reduced susceptibility to leaf curl and bacterial diseases.

The first Veroma® peaches

From these crossbreeds we have bred the Veroma® peach family, with which we try to combine the best features of the Tibetan wild peach (winter hardiness, aroma, robustness) with the fruit size, juiciness and the fine texture of the cultivated peach. The first two varieties, Veroma® Pico and Veroma® Bello mature late, from late August to early September; they have a typical, green-coloured flesh, but show the influence of cultivated peach with a good fruit size of 5 to 7 cm. If the fruits are thinned out, even an almost normal peach size can be reached (especially with the slightly larger variety Veroma® Bello). Veroma® Bello still has a slightly later ripening period than Veroma® Pico.

The name of the green aromatic peaches: Veroma®

The name of this peach family from the Lubera breeding programme is based on the most important characteristics, on the green flesh (vert = green) and the intense peach flavour. Voila and the name we chose for this peach family is Veroma®!

   
 
Aromatic Peach Veroma® Bello

A Prunus mira hybrid - the late ripening, juicy, green original peach with the intense...

£37.40 *

Aromatic Peach Veroma® Pico

A Prunus mira hybrid - the juicy, green original peach with the intense aroma

£37.40 *

   
 

Using Veroma® peaches in the garden

Aromapfirsiche Veroma PicoThe Veroma® peaches can be planted just like normal peach trees. Naturally, a sunny, open garden spot should be selected, which gives the peaches the necessary solar energy on the one hand, and lets the leaves dry quickly in order to minimise diseases on the other hand. In such an exposed garden location, the beautiful peach blossom of the Veroma® peaches can be well perceived and enjoyed. Due to their robustness, Veroma® peaches can also be planted more informally; they are easy to grow and let's just say it clearly: they can be somewhat neglected. The influence of the inbred wild and original peach species Prunus mira is still present: the Veroma® peaches can sometimes be planted in semi-shade or in an informal wild fruit hedge, and you will be surprised how much yield the trees will produce, even when slightly neglected! However, strong pruning in the spring (see below) is advisable. Otherwise, the old wood will get bare; new growth and fruits will only be found on the periphery of the tree, which gets bigger and bigger. We have 15-year-old Prunus mira hybrids that are trouble-free and more robust than conventional peach trees, however they have become very large without pruning and the fruits are now 3-4 m high up.

How big will the Veroma® peach trees be?

Veroma® peaches grow a bit bushier and more compact than many normal peaches. Without pruning, the trees can reach up to 4 m high and will get bare in the lower 2 m. With regular pruning and after training as a spindle with a vertical main axis, where the fruiting wood is trained, the tree stays about 2-3 m high and about 2 wide. If a slightly wider framework is used, it is best to cut the newly planted tree at a trunk height of approx. 0.5-1 m, and then train 3-4 branches to grow outwards to form a kind of hollow crown. The fruiting wood is then again produced on this larger framework and then cut back again (see below). A peach tree with such a hollow crown can grow up to 2.5 or 3 m wide. But as I said, these sizes are correct if the plant is pruned every spring before it sprouts again (in January to February).

Do Veroma® peaches need to be thinned out?

While cultivated peaches have great advantages if they are thinned (leaving one fruit only every 20-25 cm) and the difference in quality is striking, the Veroma® peaches can also produce a beautiful quality with a veritable fruit overload even when the fruits have not been thinned out. Anyway, we are surprised every year how intense and sweet the aroma of the Veroma® peaches is, even though a tree needs to bring several hundred fruits to maturity. Nevertheless, the size of the fruit will of course be greatly increased if thinned; instead of 4-8 cm, the size will probably be 8-10 cm, reaching almost the normal size of a peach. Veroma® Bello seems to be more responsive to thinning, as this variety is by nature a bit larger than Veroma® Pico.

More generally, it makes sense to thin out fruits and trees that are more likely to be consumed fresh, while Veroma® peaches provide a more than satisfying harvest for processing without any additional effort. And how should the fruits be thinned out? Quite simply: after June, when the young fruits are the size of a walnut or slightly smaller and if the natural fruit drop is over, with which the tree tries to regulate its own fruit capacity, all peach fruits at a distance of 20-25 cm, which lie between two very well positioned and perfectly developed young fruits, are simply pinched off with the thumb and index finger (or with scissors). In the end, there should only be fruits on the tree that are at a (spread) hand’s width apart.

Using the aromatic peaches in the kitchen and household

This use is actually dictated by the sheer volume of the harvest: there are just too many Veroma® peaches to eat fresh. In addition, the peaches of a tree also mature at nearly the same time (the ripening period is about 1-2 weeks long). As mentioned above, we recommend thinning out some of the fruits and then eating them fresh, but the large harvest also needs to be processed. The Veroma® peaches with their super-intense aroma, which they also pass on to the products, are perfect for making chutney, jam, jelly and puree.

Pruning peaches – this is how it works!

Peaches bear fruit on last year's long shoots. Older shoots no longer bear fruit and become increasingly bare. Overall too little pruning causes the crown to get bare and then the tree will only bear fruit on the periphery of a larger and larger growing tree, which of course is not in the interest of the garden owner. Quite fundamentally one can also say that peach trees – even the Veroma® peaches – should be pruned strongly by removing the branches that bore fruit, thus creating space and strength for new branches, which will then bear fruit again in the second year.

With peaches (and with sour cherries, by the way), the real fruiting shoots are essential for the yield. These are often somewhat stronger and about pencil-thick; they have grown last year and typically have three buds side by side on each node, especially in the middle area (that’s how you can recognise them): the flower bud is in the middle, right and left of it are the slightly finer leaf buds. It is these shoots that must be preserved and that produce the best and healthiest fruits. As a rule, these real fruiting shoots should be shortened by about 1/3, as they usually have no flower buds at the end that most recently grew.

The remaining one-year-old shoots, usually weaker and shorter, are called “false fruiting branches”, although they also mostly bear flowers in the middle area, but alone and they are without the accompaniment of leaf buds. Since the ratio of leaves to fruit is too poor here, only inferior fruits arise, or they are rejected as a priority when the fruit drops. Accordingly, all of these weak, false fruiting branches should be cut back to 1-2 buds, just like the real fruiting shoots, which have already bloomed last year. From the resulting stubs (a shoot is never completely removed so to speak; 1-3 buds should always be left) strong new wood arises in the growing season, which can fruit in the following year.

And what effect does this strong pruning have on yield and leaf curl?

  1. A vigorous habit, which tends to produce less but strong shoots, meaning real fruiting shoots, so that the yield is maximised.
  2. Leaf curl (if it strikes) has almost no negative effect on such a pruning measure because it cannot spread due to their temperature limitation (starting in the warmer spring), thus affecting only the first leaves of a shoot. Since mainly long shoots with 20 to 40 leaves arise due to the strong pruning, the loss of the first five leaves hardly harms the tree. However, if one prunes too little, quite a few short shoots will arise and as a result the plant loses almost its entire leaf mass...

The potential of Prunus mira for peach breeding

Prunus mira, the Tibetan peach native of the Himalayas and Tibet, grows at an altitude of around 3000 m. Prunus mira is regarded as one of the basic forms of the cultivated peach, which has been grown in China since 5000 BC. It was developed under human influence and the cultivation of this plant has been known since 2000 BC. Due to its area of origin, Prunus mira has very high cold tolerance and robustness. The beautiful, light pink flowers with the slightly darker centre are also quite attractive when in bloom. The Tibetan peach, Prunus mira, is also called “smoothpit” or “smoothstone” peach, as the pits, which are much smaller than the cultivated peach, are smooth, or have significantly fewer grooves. A comparison of the pits of our Prunus mira hybrids with real peach pits shows that the hybrid forms now have some grooves, but not as strong as the modern cultivated peaches. It may well be that the basic form of Prunus mira that we used had already hybridised with cultivated peaches, so that we are already in the second to fourth generation of backcrossing with cultivated peaches.

With the help of Prunus mira, we are trying to improve the vitality, the resistance to cold and the aroma of the peach, which has already been achieved with the first Veroma® peaches. In the Lubera breeding programme, however, we continue the backcrossing efforts of Prunus mira x cultivated peach, and interestingly, with each generation we find that the seedlings are becoming more and more split and they show more different characteristics. This may also be connected to the fact that Prunus mira, like other peach forms, is strongly influenced by inbreeding because it is self-fertile, and in a natural way, as well as by humans, self-fertilised seeds have been sown over hundreds of plant generations for propagation or spread by animals.

Peach breeding at Lubera    

Peach breeding is a focal point within Lubera's still young stone fruit breeding programme. We are convinced that the peach also has excellent potential for temperate and northern climates, but that is has largely been neglected in the last 200 years of breeding history. European and also American peach breeding took place mainly in southern climatic areas for 200 years, which has led to an ever better adaptation to dozens of breeding generations to warm, southern regions with low precipitation that hardly experience winter coldness.

On the one hand, this tendency must be reversed by simply selecting large populations that are subject to the northern climatic conditions; the natural pressure of selection – if the breeder has enough patience – then automatically ensures that climate adaptation is improved. In addition, however, different plant material (for example Prunus mira) must be bred in order to expand the diversity of the gene pool (which is narrowed by the centuries-old, but systemic inbreeding). Of course, it is also important to incorporate the remnants of old European peaches, the so-called vineyard peaches, into these breeding efforts.
 

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