Thanks for Pluots!

By on November 19, 2010

Dapple Dandy pluot, a favorite fruit for the orchard

Pluots®, Apriums®, Peacotums® and Nectaplums® are just a few of the delicious things that we have Floyd Zaiger, the founder of Zaiger Genetics Inc., to thank for. Most people might be naturally hesitant when they look at a variety developed by a company with “genetics” in its name, but the more you read about Zaiger Genetics Inc. the more you will be impressed.

The Zaiger family (the business is still family owned and operated) made it their mission to improve fruit worldwide. And improve it they do; without resort to any genetic manipulation. They painstakingly hand pollinate. They cross and recross the selections carefully recording each cross made and tracking pedigrees meticulously. This is no instant gratification trade as it takes each generation three years to mature. According to Lieth Gardner (Floyd Zaiger’s daughter) it can take on average 12 to 15 years to develop a new variety, and as many as 20 years to develop a new species. In fact the Peacotum® took 30 years! So far the Zaiger holds something in the neighborhood of 200 patents for their fruit varieties. Floyd Zaiger is the most prolific fruit breeder of the modern era. You find his trees from New Zealand to Europe, in fact he was made an Officier in the Order du Merit Agricole by the French government in 1997.

Zaiger has been about flavor for decades when the rest of the fruit breeding industry was worried about appearance. The proof is in the Pluot®. Running an eye over Dave Wilson Nursery’s taste test winners for 2010 I was unsurprised to see it dominated by Zaiger varieties. Although the Zaigers have not forgotten other important characteristics. They also breed for disease resistance and the ability of fruit to hold well during shipment and they have not only improved fruit, but rootstocks as well. Zaiger rootstocks such as Citation, Viking, and Atlas are all complex hybrids of apricot, peach, almond and plum. Citation has become the standard rootstock for plums and peaches

So how did this all start? Floyd Zaiger graduated from University of California at Davis and while teaching in Modesto worked an internship with Fred Anderson, the “father of the nectarine” and has been breeding fruit ever since. His first patented varieties were the Royal Gold Peach and the Crimson Gold Nectarine. From that humble beginning he and his children have gone on to revolutionize the way we think of stone fruits and backyard orchard culture. From low-chill cherries to genetic dwarf almonds. So when you bite into a Pluot® this summer and experience that characteristic burst of complex flavor remember the years of of hard work and Floyd Zaiger. I call it genetics done right.

  Comments (7)

J

Hardiness? I can’t seem to find any comments. Is crossing stone fruit varieties going to result in greater or weaker hardiness? Along the front range of Colorado, I can’t grow sweet cherries, can grow plums, etc. This hardiness feature might be v. important.

Posted by James Ord on Dec. 23, 2016 at 3:19:46 PM

T

Still hoping for my pluot to produce.  You read so many gum smacking reports…..and the only samples available from Whole Foods taste like a cardboard—mealy plum mix.  Oh the joys of not living in fruit country.

Posted by Thom Mackenzie on Dec. 23, 2016 at 5:02:46 PM

James, Most pluots will grown down to zone 6, the Aprium-Flavor Delight is rated down to zone 6, the Pluerries are rated down to zone 6. Not sure what USDA zone you are in but there are a few that will grow in cold zones.

Posted by Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com on Dec. 26, 2016 at 5:02:54 PM

Thom, not sure how old your tree is but it usually takes 4-5 years before it bears fruit. Also make sure you have the correct pollinator for your tree. They are super tasty once they start bearing and very productive, especially the Flavor Queen and Flavor King.

Posted by Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com on Dec. 26, 2016 at 5:06:30 PM

U

  My Sweet Treat pluerry is the most hardiest fruit tree that I have in my yard. Last year, we had a late frost and all my fruit trees lost more than 90% of its crop; Sweet Treat only lost about 3% of its crop.
  I’ve also seen reports from gardening groups that pluerries have fruited in areas with very low-chill areas. One person, who lives in Hawaiii, reported on Dave Wilson Nursery Facebook page that her pluerries have fruited.

  Sweet Treat Pluerry has complex flavors. During its crunchy stage, they taste like a plum, then a strong cherry flavor dominates the fruit. And when fully ripe, they taste like a peach with some hints of apricot. The flesh is more peach-like.

  The drawback is that during its second season, the tree produces fruit in bunches. Thereby, they need to be thinned, otherwise, the branches will break just like mine. Over-production and over-watering will produce very bland fruit. If the fruit turns bland it can be used to make jam, and so far, Sweet Treat Pluerry
Jam is the most delicious jam that I ever tasted.

Posted by Ulises on Dec. 30, 2016 at 9:54:16 PM

U

I also have two Bella Gold Peacotums that I bought from this nursery in 2014. This was the first year that they produced fruit and I would like to say that they were the most delicious hybrid fruit that I ever tasted. One fruit scored a 25 brix and one a 26 brix.

Here in Southern California, mine ripened Early June. Ripe fruit is very colorful and attractive, therefore, it must covered with netting to protect them from birds.

I fertilized them with both organic and synthetic fertilizers, and I only watered them two to three times a week, in some ocasions, once a week.

The pollinator for my trees is F1 Moorpark Apricot.


I forgot to mention on my previous comment that Sweet Treat Pluerry is pollinated by Dapple Dandy Pluot.


I’m not affiliated with Groworganic.com or with Dave Wilson Nursery.

Posted by Ulises on Dec. 30, 2016 at 10:14:24 PM

Ulises, thanks for all the great insight to your complex hybrids. I love my multi-graft pluot tree and with all the great comments on the Pluerry and Peacotum, I may need to add another tree to my collection.

Posted by Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com on Jan. 02, 2017 at 10:12:40 AM

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