ALBERT J. OLNEY, REEMAN.
In the selection of varieties for the commercial peach orchard there are a few factors upon which the success or failure of an orchard depend. A study of the conditions in Michigan show that orchard after orchard is set every spring with poor varieties.
First of all we desire to raise a peach for which there is a demand. A peach which is large, well colored and attractive in appearance. A white peach or a cling stone is not wanted in our markets.
The majority of our peaches are sold in the large cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati or Pittsburg. It is highly desirable therefore, to have a peach which will ship well.
Again productiveness and hardiness are important considerations. Ten years ago my father set out 200 Early Crawford trees and as yet we have never had a full crop, while varieties on either side have borne heavy crops every year with the exception of the present.
We also wish to have varieties which will ripen in as close succession as possible because the labor problem is considerably lessened by having steady employment during the whole picking season.
The first peach I shall discuss is the Elberta. This variety is so well known that a detailed description is unnecessary at this time. Fruit growers and buyers too, like the Elberta because it is a large peach and one of the best in shipping qualities. The tree is very subject to the leaf curl but the early spray before the buds swell will control that. So we consider this fault of minor importance.
The Engles Mammoth I would place very high in the list, at least for some localities. They are better in quality than the Elberta and we have found them more productive, producing almost annual crops. There are, however, a few faults in this variety which must not be overlooked. In some localities growers have complained that the Engles do not color up well but we have never had that trouble. They are a little tender and must be handled -very carefully and picked right on time. Consequently the facilities for getting to market would be an important consideration, but if they can be placed in an iced car as soon as they are picked they will get into Chicago or Pittsburg in fine condition.
The Kalamazoo ranks very close to the Engles, is almost as productive and similar in size and appearance. We like them too because they follow the Engles so closely in ripening.
The Oceana, a comparatively new peach is coming into a great deal of prominence in some sections. They are a fine large peach ripening close to the Engles and good shippers. They are very hardy. An orchard of 1,000 five-year-old trees in Newaygo county had about 50% of a crop this year while other varieties such as Early St. John, Triumph, Elberta and Crawford had only here and there a scattering peach.
There are many other varieties of commercial value that deserve mention but time will not permit me to do that. We want just as few of the best varieties as we can find and still cover the desired picking season. We want enough of each variety so that we can handle the fruit economically.