Current harvesting and shipping practices of fresh market low-chill peaches (Prunus persica [L] Batsch) in Australia generally necessitate the harvest of immature, firm fruit to reduce bruising during picking, grading and packing, to extend shelf life and to enable export by sea to distant markets.
Fruit shipped immature will not achieve full tree-ripe flavour for the consumer.
The non-melting flesh gene of the processing peaches offers the potential for a major increase in firmness for fresh market peaches.
Fresh market peaches with non-melting flesh will allow growers to harvest tree-ripe, full flavoured fruit in a firm state for shipping to the consumer.
The incorporation of non-melting flesh germplasm into the University of Florida peach breeding program has led to the production of low-chill, early ripening, non-melting flesh peaches with chilling requirements of 150–450 chill units (cu) that ripen 70–110 days from bloom and produce fruits with an attractive red overcolour and moderate acidity for the fresh market.
The first non-melting flesh clone selected from the University of Florida peach breeding program was Fla.9–20C, a late season, yellow fleshed peach.
Postharvest storage trials were conducted to gauge the potential for extended storage life and for export shipments for this type of peach.
Storage of Fla.9–20C peach fruit at 0°C for 8 weeks resulted in superior long term storage capability and acceptable fruit quality after ripening which would allow export shipments by sea from Australia.
While Fla.9–20C peach does not possess the most desirable fruit quality traits required for a commercial peach cultivar, its long shelf life and storability indicate great potential for non-melting flesh peaches for fresh market consumption.