Why Are Peaches Fuzzy?
No, not Fozzie! Fuzzy!
This question was posed to me via twitter by Sean, proprietor and brewmaster at Mellody Brewing Co., food maven, #tastingjawn master, stylish bow tie wearer, friend of the farm, and stalwart Phillies supporter:
@3springsfruit why are peaches fuzzy?— MellodyBrewing (@mellodybrewing) August 26, 2014
A great question, Sean, and a worthy blog entry in our "Ask a Grower" series.
Peaches, Prunus persica, were originally grown in China. Clemson claims these fruits washed up on the shores of the New World in 1571 with Spanish missionaries, first arriving in what's now St. Simon's Island, Georgia. So, they evolved in a climate and environment not very familiar to me.
However, by my observation here in the Eastern US, peach fuzz (or pubescence to all we Horticulture nerds) is a natural defense system for protecting the fruits from rainwater. The tiny hairs allow droplets of water to sit on top of them and not on the more vulnerable skin of the fruit. Now certainly, when rains are heavy, the peaches will get wet. But for light rains or heavy dews, it's conceivable peaches could be more susceptible to rots and bacteria than they already are without that pubescence.
Unless, they just adapted to express the recessive allele for pubescence and became nectarines. Nectarines are simply fuzz-less peaches. Though there are markedly different flavors between peaches and nectarines in many cases, scientifically, this is all that separates them. Why don't nectarines rot more than peaches? Well... hehe - sometimes they do. However, they've been naturally selected for smoother and smoother skin, allowing (in an ideal environment) to allow rain waters to slip-slide all down the fruits and onto the ground, feeding the roots.
Some suspect peach fuzz can deter browsing from insects and other animals. Well... as I said, I've never been to China. The super smart-alecky farmer notion in me would like to know why it hasn't stopped any stink bugs, Oriental Fruit Moths, Tarnished Plant Bugs, Western Flower Thrips, Tufted Apple Budmoth, Plum Curculio, crows, turkeys, or deer that we have here in our environment... just to name a few. I'm just glad it hasn't stopped you, the faithful 3Springs blog reader and peach devotee, from browsing on them at your home!
Wocka Wocka Wocka!
- "Ask a Grower" vol. VI - Grafting
- "Ask A Grower" vol. V - Proper Apple Storage
- "Ask A Grower" vol. IV - All About Cider
- "Ask A Grower" vol. III - Clingstone Peaches vs. Freestone Peaches
- "Ask A Grower" vol. II - Granny Smith Fables
- "Ask A Grower" vol I - Roots & Scions
While scouting our orchards for pests and diseases, I came upon this interesting apple anomoly in our Crimson Gala block on the Weaner Farm. Consider this pic something akin to Jon Stewart's "Moment of Zen". Enjoy!
So I found this about a week later! A little slower posting it, but interesting none the less:
Those of you who might have taken our customer survey are already well aware that we are on the ball trying to specialize in the things that all of you who are reading this blog would want us to grow! Having had some discussions with customers last year about a few new crops I was considering, I'd put the orders in to plant these this year.
The story behind acquiring these plants, while not epic, was still a memorable one... for all the wrong reasons. Brian and I had taken fired up our newly acquired box truck early in the morning of April 27th, setting a course for the secret location of these super secret plants. For entertainment purposes, we'll refer to these plants as "Schnozberry bushes".
So, there we were cruising down I-81 South for to gather our blessed Schnozberry bushes when "thunk, boom, ^%$*", our beloved box truck staggered to a crawl in a puff of blue smoke. Multiple attempts to revive our vehicle were unsuccessful, leading us limping defeated to the AAMCO Transmissions of Harrisonburg, VA. Without belaboring the point too much, these people were as prepared to diagnose a box truck problem as they were a Saturn V rocket.
The hours crept slowly by and we got no answers or progress on the problem. Finally, convinced that these folks had no concern for how long Brian and I might be stranded, Dave decided to make a dash to retrieve us and, should we get lucky, the Schnozberry bushes.
My father arrived in record time and picked up the two of us, leaving the incapable crew of AAMCO what little was left of the day to put their heads together and see if they could find the sparkplugs (I'm probably not exaggerating). Our Schnozberry bush purveyors were open until 7pm and if we hustled, we could still retrieve the goods and (possibly, depending on their size) bring them home in his pickup truck.
It was then that fortune finally smiled on our stalwart band. We winded our way through the Blue Ridge down to the secret location at which our Schnozberry bushes were kept - arriving with 10 minutes to spare. We loaded them quickly and were soon backtracking through the mountains Northward. Schnozberries in tow, we took cause for celebration when finally we reached civilization. Shamelessly, the three road-weary travelers split equally six 9 oz. Ribeye steaks and made it home before 11pm - all in the same day.
We got the Schnozberries in the ground the very next day, in addition to the crunchberries (we'll call 'em) that had arrived by mail from parts elsewhere. We have a few pics of the exciting proceedings. Twitter followers and Facebook fans had already been made aware of these exploits. Really, a few "tweeps" probably know what these guys are! Everyone else has until at least next year until the schnozberries and crunchberries are ripe!