Good Fruit Grower

July 1

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14 JULY 2015 GOOD FRUIT GROWER A ncient peach pits recently unearthed in China indicate that peaches were being cultivated in China at least 7,000 years ago. Evidence found during recent archae- ological excavations in the lower Yangtze River Valley in southern China, not far from Shanghai, suggests that peaches were domesticated in that area thousands of years ago and probably originated there, rather than in northwestern China as previously thought. Domestication means that people were con- sciously selecting for preferred fruit traits, by clonal reproduction, rather than just planting the seeds of their favorite fruits. Dr. Gary Crawford, anthropologist at the University of Toronto Mississauga in Canada, has been studying the origins of agricultural crops in China for the past 20 years, in collaboration with Chinese researchers. Most of the research in southern China has focused on rice, but Crawford, whose expertise is in identifi cation and analysis of plant remains, published a research paper several years ago in which he urged scientists to look at the bigger picture in the region and study other crops. Yunfei Zheng, a botanist and archaeologist at the Zhejiang Institute of Archeology in China, began showing Crawford more and more plant remains that had been recovered from archaeological digs in the lower Yangtze River Valley in Zhejiang Province. Because peach pits were found at multiple settlements dating back over a long period, Crawford and Zheng felt peaches would be a good candidate for further study. They wondered, for example, when the evolution from the wild peach to the far superior modern peach began. Wild peaches Wild peaches tended to have a thin, tough, fl esh. Cultivated peaches are larger and have a greater volume of fl esh in proportion to the stone. Modern varieties also have a wider range of maturity times than wild peaches, allowing for a supply of fruit over a longer period. Wild species tend to be mid- to late-maturing. Peach seeds have great genetic variability. If people grew peach trees from seeds, there would be no guar- antees the new tree would produce similar fruit to the parent tree. But, trees producing large fruit could easily have been selected and propagated using rootstocks and grafting. "If they simply started grafting, it would guarantee the orchard would have the peaches they wanted," Crawford said. The scientists examined peach stones from five archaeological sites in Zhejiang Province in southwest China. The stones were among other relics, such as pot- tery, tools, and animal and other plant remains found at settlements spanning a period of about 5,000 years. Radiocarbon dating, conducted by Direct AMS in Seattle, Washington, showed that the oldest peach Digging back into PEACH HISTORY Summer Fruits Shanghai Ningbo Hangzhou 30 MILES CHINA AREA OF DETAIL Peach origins traced Ancient peach pits were discovered at several archaeological sites in the in lower Yangtze River Valley in southern China. ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES East China Sea SOURCE: DR. GARY CRAWFORD, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO MISSISSAUGA JARED JOHNSON/ GOOD FRUIT GROWER The Chinese were clonally propagating peach trees at least 7,000 years ago. by Geraldine Warner Get the results you want with KDL ® 0-0-24, AGRO-K's foliar nutrient fruit sizing and color program BIG cherries with great color and high sugar offer growers the best returns. Large bloom and heavy sets increase the risk of small fruit and uneven maturity. Maximize your returns by maximizing your fruit size and uniform maturity at harvest with KDL ® , Agro-K's foliar cherry size and color promoter. Peak demand timing for potassium in cherries begins at color break and should be supported by foliar potassium, in the right form, to maximize cherry size, color and sugar and to encourage uniform fruit maturity at harvest. KDL's unique sugar-based potassium formulation is designed for fast and complete uptake and when applied beginning at color break, can dramatically improve cherry size, color and sugar, while encouraging uniform fruit maturity. KDL links potassium to a sugar complex that quickly penetrates fruit and leaf tissue – encouraging the sugar development process within the leaf and aiding in transport into the fruit – leading to increased sugar levels and improved color. KDL also maximizes cell bulking leading to larger, firmer cherries that ship better and store longer. Bulking, sugar content and color are all indicators of ripening fruit. By influencing these quality factors, KDL also promotes greater uniform maturity at harvest for less small green fruit. KDL is compatible with most pesticides used for powdery mildew and fruit fly. For more information on how KDL ® can influence your cherry crop, contact Agro-K today. AGRO-K CORPORATION 8030 Main Street, NE • Minneapolis, MN 55432 800-328-2418 • When BIG isn't big enough! Science-Driven Nutrition SM

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