Comparing 2 east coast nectarines

alan haighAugust 11, 2013

As I've stated in the past, my favorite peach is a nectarine. For years the only variety I grew was an old variety (Mericrest, I think) that cracks every year and suffers from at least some rot no matter the spray regimen. It's exceptional flavor has saved it from the ax.

But then I started harvesting fruit from a Summer Beaut nectarine a few years ago and it is far less susceptible to cracking and not all that much harder than peaches for me to grow. Now I grow Eastern Glo, Summer Beaut, Redgold (ones I've tasted) Sunglo and Amber (maybe this year).

If you are considering trying to grow nectarines for their higher flavored flesh and smooth skin, as compared to peaches, I recommend you start with either Easternglo or Summerbeaut, both available from Adams County Nursery.

Because they are relatively early they may require only one additional spray over peaches- they probably will need a spray about 2 weeks before ripening with Monterey Fungus Fighter when grown in northeastern conditions. I'm not sure if preceding fungicide sprays will be necessary but I've included another a month before ripening.

Here, in the northeast, they haven't required any more than the initial petal fall (of latest blooming apples) and 2 weeks following sprays of a material such as Spectracide's Triazide to adequately keep fruit destroying insects at bay.

That is a total of two insecticide sprays with which I protect all the species of fruit I manage. Plums are the only species, especially European ones, that sometimes suffer a significant but tolerable amount of plum curculio damage under this regimen. Further south, and sometimes, even here, stink bugs and/or OFM may complicate this schedule with subsequent sprays becoming necessary.

Comparing Eastern Glo and Summer Beaut nectarines, Eastern Glo seems a less vigorous tree that may not size up fruit as well as Summer Beaut. It is just a few days earlier than SB this year- a gap I remember as being wider two years ago (necs were frozen out on my site last year).

Eastern Glo is almost a solid red color while SB has what I find a more interesting mottled appearance of yellow and red- but that's a subjective evaluation maybe influenced by my subjective assessment that SB is the superior tasting fruit between the two.

Summer Beaut is more acidic than Eastern Glo- a trait I appreciate, but last night my mother-in-law determined that it was too "sour" and she prefers the flavor of Eastern Glo. I suspect anyone who prefers white peaches to yellow would share her opinion. However, there's no way I'd describe a tree ripe Summer Beaut as sour- it has some tart swimming in sugar and nectarine essence.

Summer Beaut, as ripened off the tree, is pretty much the perfect fruit for me and I treasure it as much as anything in my orchard but Eastern Glo tastes almost as good to me. I hope in the future it ripens relatively earlier to Summer Beaut, so it doesn't suffer from comparison.

Incidentally, I had the opportunity to taste a couple of Crawford peaches this year from wood I received from Scott the spring before last. What seemed to distinguish it from other quality peaches I grow was a higher level of acid, although there was also another flavor in the mix that added distinction that I can't put my finger on. It's fruit still can't hold a candle to a good nectarine as far as my palate is concerned. A great early peach, though.

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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Your Early Crawford are already ripening? Thats strange, mine are not going to be ripe for another week and I should be earlier than you. The high acid does sound right though. I also sent you Clayton in that batch of wood so maybe it was Clayton? Or maybe I had a mixup on my end. Sometimes new grafts fruit on a funky schedule so it could be the real thing.

Your old nectarine doesn't sound like Mericrest, I have fruited it for 3-4 years and it has never cracked and is the least prone to rot of all the nectarines I tried (about a dozen varieties, all now removed except Mericrest). I got some really great fruits off of it this year, they are small but super flavorful. Fruitnut, they would tilt your brix-meter.

The Eastern Glo / Summer Beaut sound worth trying. Summer Beaut sounds like the one I will like, I like a sour (and sweet) nectarine. I agree there is nothing better than a good nectarine.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 9:30AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


Thanks for the write-up. Scott has mentioned the nects he's tried are much smaller than peaches. Is that your experience as well?

I already have Easternglo planted and am looking forward to getting Summer Beaut next year.


Since you mentioned Clayton again, would it be possible to get some more budwood from you again this year? Last year every one of my Clayton grafts failed. It was way too hot the first time and it cooked every one of the grafts. The second time it was too late in the year and the temps were too cool so that nothing callused ( I budded quite a few other varieties in between and had a high percentage of takes.)

I have some Baby Crawford peaches on a tree this year. Boy do they look small.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 10:38AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Wow, we all agree there is nothing better than a great nectarine. But my great nectarines are anything but sour, tart, or even sweet/tart. Some are that way but they're not my favorites. Arctic Jay, the highest scoring fruit twice over at DWN taste testing, is my classic sweet/tart nectarine. It's very good but not my best.

The best nectarines for my taste are very sweet, 18-28 brix, but have no tartness. Rather a really rich flavor that I can't describe. My best examples are the yellow fleshed Honey Blaze and Honey Royale plus to a lesser extent the white fleshed Arctic Star. All are low acid but not low flavor.

I'll add that the Honey series flavor is enhanced by a water deficit up to a certain point. Past that Honey Blaze in particular can take on a fermented taste.

My nectarines are typically huge even when I'm holding back on water as much as possible. Arctic Jay, Arctic Snow, and Honey Royale are 3-4 inches. Honey Blaze and Arctic Star are 2.5+ inches at 28 brix due to water deficit but 3 inches at 20-24 brix.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Sun, Aug 11, 13 at 11:19

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 11:06AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Olpea, I can send you some Clayton in the next cooler spell. Let me know if you want anything else.

I am finally getting Baby Crawfords this year after many years of problems with that tree. For the last several it was squirrels. My mobile squirrel traps have cut down on the predation enough so I can try some fruits. My fruits are small, but not as small as Early Crawfords which are super small. I had some at Andy Mariani's orchard several years ago and they were the size of softballs, maybe he thinned super early to get them so big. By the way the taste is similar to Early Crawford so far, and definitely on the tart side. Its still early for them so the full verdict is not in yet.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 12:37PM
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alan haigh

Scott, you are correct, my mind transformed the name from Clayton to Crawford- all actual labeling was accurate. Darn memory plays more tricks on me by the day.

The peach is certainly a keeper and I thank you for the wood you provided. I shall be attaching it to other trees in my nursery.

FN, of course our nectarines are not the same fruit as yours. Wish I could dial down the water and still be growing trees outdoors. I couldn't improve on the taste of my nects for my palate but it would be nice to be able to let them turn into syrup sacks on the tree.

Even if the weather allowed it, my birds would not. I pick them when flesh gives just a bit anywhere on the fruit and they are soft in a day or two (or less).

I should have mentioned that the Eastern Glos appear to be more attractive to bird pecking, which, from their deep red coloration, is not surprising. Also, my Redgold fruit is highly cracked from one recent heavy rain, which probably won't stop fruit from ripening properly. Glad I don't need to sell them

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 1:13PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Thanks Scott,

I sent you an email.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 8:42PM
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I have a question for you folks who grow these nectarines, will they grow in my climate? As some background, Apples grow fairly well here (at least the short to mid season ones), pears do alright too and european plums. I have basically given up on peaches, since even the hardy ones usually only make it one winter or two before dying out.

I am probably zone 5a, min temps typically -10 to -20F, but the occasional -30F every 5 years or so. It is quite windy here in the winters, which may be more of a challenge to fruit trees then the temps. And we get bright winter sun along with cold temps.

Any chance one of these nectarines you are talking about could live and fruit here?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 8:59PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Not where peaches have failed. They are basically the same fruit. There may even be a few peaches slightly hardier than the best nectarines. If you want to grow them they'll need to be potted and moved to shelter or planted under a shelter.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 9:46PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I like nectarines too, thanks for the descriptions. High brix is really a problem for me as I need the fruit for mostly cooking. Sweet fruit just comes out too bland as so much sweetener is added in cooking. This was really driven home when I made wild raspberry and wild blackberry jam this year. The fruit was almost inedible raw. Super tart. The jam was declared the best I ever made by family and friends.
I like to dry fruit too, so again the tart fruit comes out so much better.
I guess my point is if you have tart fruit but don't care for it, try processing it in cooking, dried or mixed with other fruit that is sweeter in smoothies, or made with ice cream.
Anyway Summer Beaut sounds like a winner.
Also of note, not all white fleshed fruit is sub acid. Indian Free peach and Arctic Glo nectarine are white fleshed and very high in acid.
I love that sour taste in white flesh, very interesting flavor.
I never tried Indian Free, but Arctic Glo is awesome. Adams sells it too. But to each his own. So cool to have so many choices in fruit.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 12:07AM
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alan haigh

Drew, I didn't even know that Indian Free was a white. Another reason I don't gravitate to white peaches is I think the yellow flesh is probably more healthful, both for having vitamin a and also more flavenoids- those apparently cancer fighting substances found in highly colored plant parts. I'm a bit of a health food fetishist.

I have cooked fruit every morning on waffles or in hot cereal. This morning I have an apricot base cooked to a sauce mixed with TangO peaches (hold their texture more than any other peach I've cooked) and slightly warmed Summer Beaut slices with my multi-whole-grain waffles and yogurt. You can eat healthy AND delicious.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 5:50AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

It's understandable you didn't know Indian Free was a white as it is full of flavenoids too! Note that most years they are not this red, this is an exceptional photo!

This post was edited by Drew51 on Mon, Aug 12, 13 at 8:26

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 8:19AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Arctic Glo and Red Raspberry nectarines also are full of flavenoids and are both white fleshed. Indian Free needs a pollinator, and is PLC resistant. Most years the Indian Free looks like this..

This post was edited by Drew51 on Mon, Aug 12, 13 at 9:22

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 8:33AM
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alan haigh

That is definitely a fruit I want to grow. Just beautiful.

White and red fleshed, actually.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 8:00PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I always viewed Indian Free as red-fleshed, not white. But there are also red flesh over yellow types so red-over-white is probably the best category. When brown rot is under control its a fantastic fruit.

My latest kitchen concoction is old cream and old jam: I take half and half about to go bad and old jam lost in the back of the cupboard and mix in the ice cream maker and add a touch of sugar. It tastes like heaven and I was about to throw it all out.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 11:32PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Thanks for the recipes, I find that as interesting as the fruit. Those pictures sold me too, and the reviews, and Scott even though he sights the brown rot problem, always rated it high anyway. Any suggestions on how to handle brown rot prevention welcome. My tree is on Citation, but Lovell is available too. Depends what nursery you order from.
I have observed that citation makes the trees have a larger caliper at a younger age. The trees look awesome. Lovell seems to produce slimer, but taller trees. I had Arctic Glo on both. The citation failed to branch low after a knee high cut. The tree was too old, my bad, my inexperience. I replaced with one on Lovell, and left the lowest structure on. So taller than knee high, but still can be kept small.
I was also attracted to Arctic Glo and Red Raspberry (both nectarines) also because of the beautiful color, and the acid flavor. Here's a poor photo of Red Raspberry.
" Developed by the California Rare Fruit Growers' Hybridizer Group. A rare nectarine with rich red flesh reminiscent of the old "Indian Red" peaches. It is the result of crossing red-fleshed peaches with white nectarines and re-crossing the subsequent seedlings. Small to medium sized fruit has dark burgundy skin with flesh streaked in red and a juicy, melting texture. The flavor is unique: rich and complex, very sweet but with a pleasant tartness similar to raspberry"
I really wish i had more room. Maybe after I move I can add it. I will lose all current trees when i do, so they are certainly just experiments for now. I need to move in 4 or 5 years.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 12:21AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I can't wait to have my own fruit to take photos, probably will get a small crop next year. Arctic Glo....

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 10:44AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)


How did you acquire your Honey Blaze? I looked up on DW and it is only listed on their commercial list. AC has it listed on their ripening chart but not on their order list.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 12:17PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

ACN is the only source I'm aware of, when they have it. You might get one as a special order from Bay Laurel or Grow Organic. Call ACN maybe they can come up with some. They had Tangos and Tangos ll this spring when it didn't show on their website. I guess they grow their own. But they could order some from DWN.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 12:35PM
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