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WHY NOT PLANT A PEACOTUM?

written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
published – SEPTEMBER 12, 2014

WHY NOT PLANT A PEACOTUM?

Many years ago, famous horticulturist, Luther Burbank created the ‘plumcot’ by crossing a plum with an apricot. However, his plumcot was not a commercial success because it was too soft for commercial shipping.

Today pluots are commonly found in farmers markets and grocery stores. Pluots are a complex interspecific hybrid or ‘cross’ between plums and apricots. The characteristics of the plum are dominant in the fruit. The fruit taste like sweet juicy plums without the sharp taste of skin often associated with plums. Many of the pluots currently available to growers and gardeners have been developed by private fruit breeder, Floyd Zaiger. He introduced and trademarked his first pluot in 1989.

Keep in mind that pluots and other Zaiger hybrids are not genetically modified fruit. They have been bred with controlled cross pollination, not by tinkering with the genes. This involves crossing numerous generations of hybrids to come up with a suitable cultivar (cultivated variety) for commercial and home garden markets.

As with traditional stone fruit like peaches and apricots, there are many various cultivars of pluots and plumcots available, such as Dapple Dandy, Flavor Grenade, Flavor King, Black Velvet, Honey Punch, Flavorosa, Zee Sweet, and more. Many these have been developed by Zaiger’s Inc. Genetics in California.

Zaiger’s has also developed other stone fruit hybrids that may eventually become as popular as their trademarked pluot. This includes aprium, peacotum, nectaplum, peach-plum, and pluerry. Often, the first part of the hybrid name comes from whatever fruit’s characteristics are dominant in the offspring. For example, the pluerry, a hybrid of plum and cherry, have fruit that most resemble plum. Aprium, a complex hybrid of apricot and plum, have fruit that most resemble apricot.

Perhaps most intriguing of all the Zaiger’s hybrids is the peacotum, introduced in 2007. It is a three-way hybrid of peach, apricot, and plum. The peacotoum’s flavor is described by marketers as complex and unique, but reviewers indicate only being able to taste plum and apricot.

If you have been thinking of growing fruit trees in your yard, plums and these special hybrids are a good choice. They typically don’t require regular spraying to control wormy fruit pests and they are susceptible to fewer disease problems than most other types of stone fruit. Plus, many of the hybrids can be kept relatively small (under 10 ft), with proper pruning.

Dave Wilson Nursery is a wholesale nursery that serves as the primary US propagator for cultivars developed by Zaiger’s. They market these hybrids to both commercial orchard and home garden markets.

If you are wanting to give these hybrids a try, you can find some of the Zaiger cultivars through Raintree Nursery along with a wide variety of other fruits, nuts, berries, and ‘unusual edibles.’ Raintree is retail mail-order nursery located in Morton, WA at http://www.raintreenursery.com/. Their catalog will indicate if you need a pollinizer to plant along with the cultivar you have selected.

There is already a nectaplum, I wonder what is next?

Note: What is a pollinizer and why do you need it? Some types of fruit trees (apple, pear, sweet cherry, and Japanese plum) require the transfer of pollen from the male part of the flower of one cultivar to the female part of a different compatible cultivar of the same type of fruit tree. The tree providing the pollen is the ‘pollinizer.’ If this transfer does not happen, fruit will not develop. Other types fruit trees are self-fruitful and do not require the transfer of pollen from one cultivar to another. However, most self-fruitful types (apricot, European plum, tart cherry, peach, and nectarine) will develop more fruit if there is a pollinizer available.

Published: 9/12/2014 12:22 PM

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