Tips, oblong shape, suture bulge, green but soft, red around pit, slightly mealy, good sweet taste
'China Pearl’ was selected at Jackson Springs, NC in 1991 by D.J. Werner and S.M. Worthington. It originated from the 1988 cross of ‘Contender’ x PI 134401. ‘Contender’ was released by the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service in 1987. PI 134401 is a plant introduction from China that was introduced into the United States in 1927. ‘China Pearl’ was tested in trials at the Sandhills Research Station in Jackson Springs, NC.
‘China Pearl’ ripens about August 1, about a week after ‘Biscoe’. ‘China Pearl’ flowers after ‘Contender’, making it one of the latest flowering commercial peach cultivars commercially available; the chilling requirement to satisfy dormancy is about 1100 hours below 4 C. Late flowering reduces the risk of freeze injury to flower buds in late winter and early spring. In addition to its late flowering, flower buds of ‘China Pearl’ also possess high levels of resistance to cold temperature. Resistance to cold temperature was confirmed in Spring 1996; trees of ‘China Pearl’ at 50% bloom still had live flower buds even after exposure to 6 consecutive subfreezing nights. Flower buds of all commercial check cultivars in the same test block had no live flower buds. Trees of ‘China Pearl’ subsequently set a fruit crop that year. No fruit was produced on any commercial cultivar.
Fruit of ‘China Pearl’ are very large, with many fruit commonly exceeding three inches in diameter when properly thinned. Because of its moderate to high flower bud number, heavy thinning is required in years of little natural fruit thinning from freeze events. Fruit are round and have shown no tendency to produce a tip over the four years of evaluation.
‘China Pearl’ is white fleshed, and is heterozygous for the honey (D) gene, which confers a reduction in fruit flesh acidity. Consequently, fruit flavor is very mild, and is often perceived as being sweeter; however, fruit sugar levels are similar to other standard commercial cultivars. The low-acid flavor is not preferred by some, but appears to be preferred by those of Asian or Hispanic descent.
Foliage of ‘China Pearl’ is moderately susceptible to bacterial spot disease incited by Xanthomonas campestris pv. pruni. Fruit have shown some evidence of infection in years of heavy disease pressure. Moderate levels of infection shown by this selection suggest that pesticide application may be necessary in years of heavy disease pressure.
Trees of ‘China Pearl’ show a growth rate typical of most commercial peach cultivars; however, tree growth habit is more upright than standard cultivars. Flowers are pink and showy. Pollen is abundant. Leaf glands are reniform.
In summary, ‘China Pearl’ will provide growers with a consistent cropping, late-ripening, white-fleshed peach that will provide new marketing opportunities. Market targeting of Asian and Hispanic communities should be feasible with this cultivar. Its late flowering, high flower bud number, and cold hardiness exceeding that of currently grown commercial cultivars should make it an appropriate choice for growers in North Carolina. ‘China Pearl’ may be particularly useful for growers in the Piedmont and Foothills of North Carolina, where peach culture is often tenuous due to the prevalence of cold injury to flower buds. ‘China Pearl’ will also be valuable for commercial production in other peach growing regions of the U.S. that receive sufficiently cool winter temperatures to satisfy its high chilling requirement. Its cold hardiness will make it particularly attractive for growing regions at the northern limit of commercial production.
‘China Pearl’ is one of the few commercial cultivars of peach that was derived in part from germplasm outside of the ‘Chinese Cling’ genetic base. Thus, this cultivar will serve to broaden the genetic base of commercial peach production in the U.S., and it will serve as an important source of germplasm for breeders elsewhere.
The name ‘China Pearl’ is suggested for this selection because of its direct descent from a Chinese plant introduction, and its white-fleshed fruit.
A plant patent application has been filed for ‘China Pearl’. The North Carolina Agricultural Research Service is planning to negotiate a non-exclusive licensing policy for production, market development, and distribution. Nurserymen having an interest in ‘China Pearl’ will be given the opportunity to be licensed by the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service for production and marketing.
Evaluations are based on a 1-8 scale (6=OK,7=Commercially acceptable, 8=Excellent)
Size is in inches
Shape: round is assumed, T=tip, P=point, S=suture, OB=oblate, OV=ovate
Freeness: 3=early cling, 8=completely free
Status: 0=discard, 1=keep
Notes: SOS=soft on suture, SOT=soft on tip, RIF=red in flesh, GAS=green around stem
RAP=red around pit, GGC=green ground color, sz=size, wh=white, yt=young tree, CCT=concave tip
Bloom date is when approx. 90% of blooms are open (full bloom)
The description of each variety of peach or nectarine fruit under each group is in different formats as this information is collected from varied sources and hence is not consistent