This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
There was a period when everybody acquainted with peach culture knew which was the earliest, but since Hale's Early has been superseded the question of earliest is undecided, and no doubt will continue thus for many years to come. It is generally conceded that the many new varieties two to three weeks earlier than Hale's, are seedlings from the latter.
No doubt seedlings will be grown from the earliest kinds in hope of getting this fruit still earlier, but as there must be a limit between the blooming and ripening periods of all fruits, the question is whether we have not reached said limit with peaches.
We have fruited this season twenty-six varieties claimed to be from one to three weeks earlier than Hale's, a number of which fruited on the same grounds two years ago, and several for the last six to ten years. I have settled down to the firm conclusion that there is not three days difference in time of ripening of the following varieties, viz. : Amsden, Alexander, Wilder, Musser, Bowers' Early, Baker's Early, Alpha, Gov. Garland, Sherfey's Eirly, Nectar Early' Canada. Waterloo, Downing, Saunders, Cumberland, Honeywell's, Climax, Briggs May, Our No. 4. The eleven first named have leaves with globose glands. Waterloo has reniform glands, and the seven last named are glandless-All the above named varieties are just over, while Early Beatrice, Louisa and Early Rivers are just coming in. We picked the first ripe peaches about 22nd of July, while two years ago the first were ripe about 26th of June. Early Surprise is just coloring and will ripen about with Hale's. Early Rose and Early Lydia quite green.
Flater's St. John, said to be the earliest yellow peach, will ripen, I think, with Troth. In testing these varieties we had fixed on several as earliest, but find that comparative earliness varies with same varieties, on the same ground, and with the same trees, in different seasons.
Those varieties having globose or reniform glands are as a rule the stronger growers, while the glandless are almost invariably subject to mildew and consequently weaker growers. There seems to be a general uniformity of the fruit of the same classes named and a slight difference, which I can hardly describe, between that of the glandless and those having glands, i. e. including those named that are over at this date.
T. V. Munson, of Texas, whom I consider good authority, claims that those having reniform glands are as much more vigorous than those having globose glands, as the latter are above the glandless, but I could thus far not see the point. From our method of testing I claim to report with the assurance of fairness, viz. : (The following were budded on bearing trees and bore quantities sufficient to compare) Bowers' Early on Amsden, no difference in fruit nor time of ripening; Early Canada on Wilder, no difference; Baker's Early on Alexander, no difference ; Gov. Garland on Alexander, no difference • Alpha on Wilder, no difference; Waterloo on Wilder, no difference; Sherfey's on Alexander, no difference ; Climax on Wilder, no difference ; Nectar on Downing, slight difference: Musser on Wilder, no difference; Cumberland on Wilder, slight difference ; No. 4 on Wilder, slight difference; Early Surprise on Alexander, Early Rose on Amsden and Early Lydia on Downing, three varieties above mentioned as not ripe, will be seen had no disadvantage of position.
The many different and even contradictory reports as to time of ripening of most of the above-named varieties, prove that time of ripening as well as size, quality and appearance depend on conditions which are often overlooked or misunderstood by the growers. Even with all our knowledge of peach growing we must admit that they are subject to queer freaks not yet accounted for. If there is any one variety that will for a period of six to eight years prove uniformly three to four days earlier than any other variety, I will guarantee for its introducer a handsome premium. But what is particularly desired, is a freestone peach, as early, as large, good, and handsome as any now grown, and whoever will obtain such a variety will deserve a handsome fortune.