Little is known of the Chinese varieties. Frank N. Meyer observed several in his travels in China, but mentioned specifically only one, the pai-bibaw, or white loquat. T. Ikeda lists forty-six varieties which are cultivated in Japan, but only nine of them are important. One of them, Tanaka, has been introduced into the United States by David Fairchild and into Algeria by L. Trabut. Four sorts are listed by the Government Botanical Garden at Saharanpur, India, but only one, the Golden Yellow, is recommended by A. C. Hartless, Superintendent of the Garden. The Queensland varieties are not extensively planted, and probably are not so good as those of California. Out of five or six named forms which have originated in Italy (including Sicily), not one has been planted extensively. More than fifteen varieties have been described from Algeria, but most of them have already been discarded. One, named Taza, which Trabut produced by crossing Tanaka and one of the best Algerian loquats, is considered meritorious.
Most of the improved sorts at present cultivated in California and Florida have been produced by C. P. Taft of Orange, California. Taft has done more than any other man in the United States to improve the loquat. His method of procedure has been to grow a large number of seedlings and select the most desirable ones. In this way he has established eight named varieties, of which Champagne, Advance, Early Red, Premier, and Victor are the best.
Little attention has been devoted to the classification of loquat varieties. Takeo Kusano, professor in the Imperial College of Agriculture and Forestry at Kagoshima, states that the Japanese classify them into two groups, called Chinese and Japanese. The Chinese type is large, pyriform, and deep orange-colored, while the Japanese is smaller, lighter colored, and sometimes slender in form. This classification may correspond to one suggested in 1908 by L. Trabut of Algiers. Trabut's two groups were defined, one as having crisp white flesh and the other orange or yellow flesh.
The Chinese group, so far as is known at present, includes only late-ripening varieties. The flesh differs in texture from that of loquats belonging to the Japanese group, while the flavor is very sweet. Kusano states that Tanaka belongs to this class. The variety known in California as Thales, which is thought by some to be identical with Tanaka or very close to it, appears also to belong to the Chinese list.
The Japanese group includes the loquats of California origin, such as Champagne and Premier. These fruits have not the firm meaty flesh of the Chinese group, but are more juicy, and also are distinct in flavor. The flesh is whitish or light-colored, except in the variety Early Red.
The varieties described below are the important ones cultivated in the United States at the present time. For others of minor value, the reader is referred to Condit's bulletin and to the articles by Trabut in the Revue Horticole de l'Algerie.
Advance. - Shape pyriform; size large, weight 2 1/2 ounces, length 2 1/2 inches, breadth 1 3/8 inches; base somewhat tapering; apex narrow, the basin medium deep, narrow, abrupt, corrugated; the calyx-segments short, converging, the eye closed; fruit-cluster large, compact; surface downy, deep yellow in color; skin thick and tough; flesh whitish, translucent, melting and very juicy; flavor subacid, very pleasant; quality good; seeds commonly 4 or 5, the seed cavity not large. Season March to June at Orange, California.
This variety was originated by C. P. Taft of Orange, California, in 1897. It is a productive variety, and the fruit-clusters are large and handsome.
Champagne. - Shape oval to pyriform; size large, weight 2 ounces, length 2 1/2 inches, breadth 1 1/2 inches; base tapering, slender; apex flattened, rather narrow, the basin shallow, narrow, flaring, and the calyx-segments broad, short, the eye small, open; fruit-cluster large, loose; surface deep yellow in color with a grayish bloom ; skin thick, tough, somewhat astringent; flesh whitish, translucent, melting, and very juicy, flavor mildly subacid, sprightly and pleasant; quality very good; seeds 3 or 4, the seed cavity not large. Season late April and May at Orange, California.
Originated by C. P. Taft at Orange, California, in 1908. Taft considers it superior to his other varieties in flavor. It is precocious and productive.
Early Red. - Shape oval pyriform to oblong pyriform; size medium large, weight 2 ounces, length 2 1/2 inches, breadth 1 3/4 inches; base tapering slightly; apex broad, flattened, with the basin shallow, narrow, abrupt, the calyx-segments short, broad, the eye small and closed; fruit-cluster compact; surface yellowish orange, tinged with red in the fully ripe fruit; skin thick, tough, acid; flesh pale orange, translucent, melting and very juicy; flavor very sweet, pleasant; quality good; seeds 2 or 3, the seed cavity not large. Season February to April at Orange, California.
The Early Red loquat was originated by C. P. Taft of Orange, California, in 1909. This is the earliest variety known in California. It is valuable for commercial cultivation in regions that are free from severe frosts.
Premier (Fig. 32). - Shape oval to oblong-pyriform; size large, weight 2 1/2 ounces, length 2 1/2 inches, breadth 1 3/4 inches; base tapering slightly; apex flattened, the basin shallow, moderately broad, rounded, the calyx-segments short, the eye large, nearly open; surface orange-yellow to salmon-orange in color, downy; skin moderately thick and tough; flesh whitish, translucent, melting and juicy; flavor subacid, pleasant; quality good; seeds 4 or 5, the seed cavity not large. Season April and May at Orange, California.
Fig. 32. The Premier loquat, of California origin which has been planted commercially. (X 1/3)
Originated by C. P. Taft of Orange, California, in 1899. It is a good variety for home use, but not a good shipper.
Tanaka. - Shape commonly obovoid, weight 2 to 3 ounces. L. Trabut says of it: "Tanaka is characterized by a beautiful color, remarkable size, firm flesh of rich color, agreeable perfume, and little acidity. The proportion of flesh to seeds is large. This loquat owes to the consistence of its flesh unusual keeping quality, - -it can be handled without turning black. Left for a week it wrinkles and dries but does not rot. Among the plants, grafted on quince, which were introduced from Japan, two subvari-eties can be distinguished; one with pear-shaped fruits, the other subspherical. Tanaka is vigorous, the leaf a little narrower than in our loquats. The tree is productive." Tanaka is famed as the largest loquat in Japan, and one of the best. It has been planted in Algeria and in California.
Thales (Fig. 33). - Shape round to pyriform; size large, weight 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 ounces, length 2 5/8 inches, breadth 1 3/4 to 2 inches; base rounded; apex flattened, the basin shallow and flaring, the calyx-segments broad and short, eye open or closed; surface yellow-orange to orange in color; skin not thick, tender; flesh orange-colored, firm and meaty, juicy; flavor sweet, suggesting the apricot; quality good; seeds 4 or 5, the seed cavity not large. Season April to June at Placentia, California.
Syns. Placentia Giant, Gold Nugget. Introduced into California, without name, from Japan betwen 1880 and 1890. It is a large, handsome fruit, and possesses unusually good shipping qualities. It is considered to be very close to Tanaka, if not synonymous with that variety.
Victor (Fig. 34). - Shape oblong-pyri-form; size large, weight 2 1/2 ounces, length 2 1/4 inches, breadth 1 3/4 inches ; base tapering slightly; apex slightly flattened, with a shallow, flaring basin; fruit-cluster large, loose; surface deep yellow in color; skin moderately thick and tough; flesh whitish,-translucent, melting, very juicy; flavor sweet, not very rich; quality good; seeds 3 to 5, the seed cavity medium-sized. The season of this variety is May and June at Orange, California.
Originated by C. P. Taft of Orange, California, in 1899. A large and showy fruit, but not considered valuable in California because it ripens late in the season. It is considered especially good for canning.
Fig. 33. Thales loquat, late-ripening, large, and of excellent quality. (X about \)
Fig. 34. The Victor loquat. (X about 11/3)