The nectarine is a fruit of the genus Prunus and a recently cultivated variety of the peach tree, which little by little has been gaining popularity among consumers. Its spectacular flavor, its crunchy texture and its great storage capacity in the refrigerator have made it one of the great favorites for consumption in summer.
In this article we want to tell you the main characteristics of the cultivation of the nectarine or nectarine and a complete guide to its care.
At the botanical level, the nectarine is a mutation of a peach tree . This fruit tree has always been related to a cross between plum and peach tree, but it is not like that, since it is one more variety of the peach trees that exist, but with a certain resemblance to plum trees, hence this statement.
The most differentiating characteristic of the nectarine compared to the common peach is that the skin does not have a hairy appearance, and has a somewhat smaller final size. However, at the tree level, it has very similar morphological characteristics, with a globose appearance, with an average height of 3 to 4 meters.
ORIGIN OF THE NECTARINE
The nectarine is a specific variety of the peach. Its scientific name is Prunus persica var. nectarine. Its origin is believed to be identical to that of the peach and it shares a history and age of origin.
In order of production, China is one of the main producing countries, followed by Italy, the United States, Spain and Greece.
It has a gray appearance. The tree only has a main trunk from which the structure of the tree is configured, with secondary and tertiary stems.
Both in this trunk and in the branches, it has certain reddish tones combined with the natural gray.
In fruit trees we can distinguish different types of branches, which are the parts where flower and wood buds are distributed. The general classification for them, both in the nectarine and in the rest of fruit trees is the following:
- May bouquets
- Mixed bouquets
The buds that we find in the bouquets and bouquets can be flower (they emit flowers and produce fruits) or wood (they emit stems that form new structures in the tree).
In nectarines, the usual thing is to have 1 central wooden bud and, around it, 2 lateral flower buds.
The leaves of the nectarine or nectarine are very similar to other trees of the genus Prunus . Bright green, elongated and narrow in shape, with pointed ends and straight, non-serrated edges.
They usually measure between 14 and 18 cm in length, with an average width of 4 or 5 cm.
The nectarine flowers are grouped in the buds (3 or 4 flowers) or they are solitary, being of the campanulaceous (bell-shaped) or pinkish type.
This tree, in full bloom, emits a large volume of flowers that completely covers the field with white and pink tones. In fact, it is a show that attracts a multitude of visitors, such as the one that happens in the Region of Murcia with different varieties of peaches, nectarines, apricots and almond trees, among others.
In the fruits we find the great difference between nectarines and peaches. They are smaller, with reddish color and without hair, this being the main differentiating characteristic.
MAIN VARIETIES OF NECTARINES
High early or extra-early flowering and high production. Fruit with white flesh, round appearance, good firmness, without cracking and a bright red color. Caliber AB
This variety emits a great flowering (extra-early) and also high production. Fruits with white flesh, good firmness and great ability to stay on the tree (without over-ripening). Bright red color. Caliber A. Sugars 8-12 ºBrix, harvest at the end of April and the first 2 weeks of May.
Medium-high and extra-early flowering, with good production. White flesh, rounded fruit, good firmness and good endurance on the tree. Bright red color and A size.
Extra-early production, with great flowering and high productivity. Yellow flesh with good firmness and good endurance on the tree. Uniform red color (no freckle formation). Caliber AB. Sweetness of 8-11 º Brix. Harvesting at the end of April and the first week of May.
NECTARINE GROW GUIDE
CLIMATOLOGY AND LOCATION
Peach and nectarine cultivation is highly dependent on the ambient temperatures of the area where it is grown. We would say that this is the main determining factor when making the decision to plant it.
It is a tree very resistant to cold temperatures, especially when the tree is in bare wood, withstanding temperatures of -15 ºC or lower.
However, the most sensitive stage of the crop is when it blooms, practically between the months and February or early March, for the earliest varieties.
In the Mediterranean area, varieties are sought that do not need to accumulate many cold hours, since we speak of a mild winters climate, so species with needs below 700-750 cold hours are usually cultivated.
The spring frosts cause the main problems in the cultivation of nectarines, since they can suppose a notable loss of production. In this phenological situation, the crop does not support temperatures below -3 ºC, and much less, up to -1 ºC, when the fruits are recently set.
Both peaches and nectarines can be planted in any type of soil, with medium texture. The highest productions are produced with soils of high fertility and periodic incorporation of organic matter.
The main handicap of nectarines is their high sensitivity to root suffocation , usually caused by very clay soils with high moisture retention and poor drainage.
General conditions of a peach / nectarine soil
- pH : 6.5-7.5
- Organic matter :> 1.5%
- Total nitrogen : 1.5-1.8%
- Active lime : <7%
- Permeability : 30-50mm / h
- Sand content : 55-60%
- Silt content : 20-30%
- Clay content : 10-15%
In any case, before planting we will add a minimum of 4-5 kg of organic matter to the planting hole. It is advisable to reincorporate between 3 and 4 kg per tree annually or every 2 years, around the trunk and without the need to bury it (superficial contribution).
The nectarine is moderately demanding to the waterings. Although there are many cultivated hectares of dry land, in the Mediterranean area, which is very limited in rainfall, practically its cultivation only occurs under irrigated conditions.
The usual system for watering nectarines is by drip irrigation, using 2 dripper lines parallel to the main trunk, 4 drippers per tree and a flow rate of 4 L / h per dripper.
In the warmer months, the waterings are practically daily and of great duration. An average irrigation program for a warm zone would be the following, depending on variables such as soil texture, planting frame, average temperature, evapotranspiration, etc.
- April: 30-35 L / tree and day
- May: 60-65 L / tree and day
- June: 90-100 L / tree and day
- July: 100-105 L / tree and day
- August: 85-95 L / tree and day
- September: 60-65 L / tree and day
- October: 30-35 L / tree and day
This endowment is made to obtain a large production per tree. In cases of ornamental use, for gardens, irrigation can decrease considerably to 1/3 or 1/4 of the values provided.
The high productions of nectarines require a supply of organic and mineral nutrients throughout the productive period, leaving good reserves before the arrival of winter to guarantee a correct flowering and set of new fruits.
The average annual doses of this crop, as a guide, are the following:
- Nitrogen : 80-140 kg / ha
- Phosphorus : 50-60 kg / ha
- Potassium : 100-140 kg / ha
The contribution of nutrients begins from the movement of the buds, when the roots begin their development. The application of liquid organic matter in the form of humic extract, liquid humus or any other source high in carbon is recommended.
Biostimulants for flowering
It is usual to carry out foliar applications in pre-flowering (bud movement up to 50% of open flower) and in post-flowering (50% petal drop until fruit set) with biostimulants based on amino acids , seaweed (phytohormonal effects) or nutrients rich in phosphorus, boron, zinc and molybdenum.
Given the high production of fruits that nectarine has, it is common for manual thinning to occur, eliminating fruits in their first stages of formation, in such a way that they stimulate the growth of the rest of the fruits.
This technique seeks to achieve adequate sizes in the fruits, from a homogeneous distribution of the energy resources of the tree. Otherwise, it is more than likely that they will not reach commercial calibers due to the high number of fruits.
The best time to thin nectarines is after fruit setting and before bone hardening, produced 30 days after flowering.
Pruning is very important in production nectarines , since it is very important to control the development of the tree and its structure to facilitate harvesting and increase the aeration of the internal parts of the tree, in order to reduce possible diseases related to humidity.
The cuttings of the tertiary branches are usually done annually, carried out before winter or at the end, when the tree is bare. This limits the length of the branches and reduces the height of the tree to facilitate manual harvesting.
NECTARINE PESTS AND DISEASES
There are different varieties of aphids that appear from the budding of the nectarine and are typical of the Prunus genus of trees . The main species are:
- Almond aphid: Aphis spiraecola Patch Brachycaudus amygdalinus Sch.
- Plum green aphid: Brachycaudus helichrysi Kalt.
- Black cherry aphid : Brachycaudus persicae Pass., Hyalopterus pruni Geof., Myzus cerasi F.
- Green peach aphid : Myzus persicae Sulz.
- Almond tree aphid : Pterochloroides persicae Cholod.
Its scientific name is Anarsia lineatella Zeller and it is a species in the order of Lepidoptera, capable of causing damage to the fruits, entering their interior and causing damage to the skin and over-ripening.
Its scientific name is anonychus ulmi Koch and it belongs to the Tetranychidae family . This pest usually appears in hot conditions and low relative humidity, affecting mainly the leaves, with chlorosis in the form of tiny dots.
San Jose louse
Its scientific name is Quadraspidiotus perniciosus Comstock and it belongs to the order Homoptera. This louse is characterized by attaching itself to the trunk, branches and fruits and not producing molasses, causing a general weakening of the nectarine.
There are different species of thrips that affect freshly set flowers and fruits in Prunus. These insects act on the flower organs, causing flower drop and fruit alterations (depressions at the apical end, discoloration and gummy secretions).
The main species of thrips that affect nectarines are the following:
- Flower Thrips : Frankliniella intonsa Trybom
- Western flower thrips : Frankliniella occidentalis Pergande
- Fruit thrips : Thrips meridionalis Priesner
This disease is caused by the fungi Monilia laxa (Ehrenb.) Sacc. and Monilia fructigena Pers. The fungus acts from the first stages of budding and flowering, causing wilting of flowers and branches and rotting of fruits, forming a gray powder on their base. These are mummified in the tree without falling to the ground, hence their curious name.
Flowering treatments are usually carried out with active ingredients or various copper formulations (copper oxychloride , among others).
Caused by the Sphaerotheca pannosa fungus , it is a disease that affects all fruit trees, causing the formation of a powdery mycelium on the leaves from spring and summer.
The ideal conditions for the development of the disease are humid nights and mild temperatures, between 15-25 ºC.
NUTRITIONAL COMPOSITION OF NECTARINE
One of the greatest benefits of nectarines as a fruit is its high content of vitamins, antioxidants and water. It does not provide many calories and no fat or cholesterol.
The consumption of a medium-sized fruit provides:
- Energy: 49-50 kcal
- Fiber: 2 g
- Carbohydrates (sugars): 10 g
- Potassium: 170 mg
- Magnesium: 10 mg
- Folic acid: 18 mg
- Vitamin C: 10 mg