"We are currently in the final testing phase of selected varieties featuring the so-called Stony Hard quality (SH - characterized by little or zero emission of ethylene upon ripening, NdR) produced by some growers of the AOP Italia organization. These peaches have yellow and white flesh, all characterized by high sweetness and crunchiness, that ripen from early July to the end of August".
"We are currently working on extending the harvesting campaign 1-2 weeks earlier", said researcher Daniela Giovannini of the Crea research center, based in Forlì.
In the most advanced selections, which have entered into full production, we are assessing the consistency of production and quality across the different farms. In some cases, the planting systems differ for density, cultivation methods and rootstock vigor. The technical evaluation of the material is, at this stage of the selection process, decisive to decide its use.
"This year our focus was on determining the length of the harvesting period. We are interested in understanding how long the fruit on the tree maintains the aesthetic, consistency and taste characteristics suitable for marketing and, consequently, to better define the flexibility of harvesting for the producer. We monitored the ripeness of the fruits on the tree every 3-4 days with the DAmeter tool and, on the sampled fruits, we analysed the sugar content, its acidity, and the firmness of the flesh. This is one of the strongest advantages of the SH types, that proves that it is possible to guarantee a harvesting period not shorter than 3 weeks," continued the researcher.
The selected fruit, left on the tree for almost 3 weeks from the beginning of the ripening, still crunchy and with excellent taste.
"Since the very beginning of our genetic improvements for the SH character, the cross-breeding and selection work the fruits featured a decisive aesthetic improvement of both shape and skin color. Some of our white-fleshed SH selections have a two-tone skin color, with a beautiful graded pink-red nuance, while others are intensely and entirely red".
"The breeding and progeny selections are carried out by my colleagues Federica Brandi and Sandro Sirri. We count on the precious collaboration of Michelangelo Garaffoni for the evaluations on site and during the post-harvest phase" concluded Daniela Giovannini.