Bonanza Peach Trees Are Not Just Painted Orchards With Some Pretty Flowers And Small Trees!
Bonanza peaches are not just painted orchard with some pretty flowers and small trees. They have been cultivated since the early 1900’s.
The name “bonanza” comes from the Spanish word for “peach”. In fact, there were many varieties of peaches growing in Arizona until they all died out during World War II due to over harvesting. After that time, the only variety grown was the one called “Papago”, which means “little papaya” in Spanish. Papayas are native to Hawaii and are similar in size to a peach but have green skin instead of red. They grow well in hot climates like Arizona.
The first commercial production of peaches began when John D. Rockefeller purchased land in Yuma County and planted hundreds of acres with them.
His goal was to create a new industry in Arizona. Today, there are several companies producing peaches commercially. One of those companies is Bonanza Farms, Inc., located in Chandler, AZ. Their main product is their Bonanzas (peach) fruit juice concentrate.
There are two types of peaches: dwarf and super-dwarf varieties. Super-dwarf peaches will only grow to the size of a small orange while dwarf peaches can be as big as a large cantaloup melon.
Most peach trees that are grown commercially are of the super-dwarf variety because they can be planted in rows closer together and require less pruning and maintenance.
A Bonanza peach is a golden yellow color with a red blush. It has a very rich, sweet taste and is juicy.
When baked into a pie, the peach remains slightly firm. When fresh off the tree, they make a very flavorful and juicy peach pie with a hint of almond in the taste.
Most people like to pick their own peaches off the tree and then take them home and make a pie. This is an easy process for those that grow on old south or heritage trees but not so easy for those that grow on newer super-dwarf varieties.
It is very difficult to reach the lower limbs without a ladder and, even if you do reach them, they may not produce any peaches at all because they are so far from the ground.
The standard tree is about 8 feet tall but can be pruned shorter, 4 feet tall. This is about the limit for reaching the lower limbs.
Smaller varieties of peaches can be grown using a dwarf rootstock but this does not work well for the standard varieties of peaches. They are not productive and they tend to grow “leggy” and fall over due to a weak root system.
The secret to growing big peaches is to have an irrigation system that waters the soil and not the trees. Most gardeners water their trees so much that the ground stays moist all the time.
This is a waste of water and it causes the ground to become hard and unable to soak up any more water. The key is to water deeply but less frequently. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation are good for this purpose.
In Arizona, there are two basic types of peaches, those that do well in Phoenix (cooler climate) and those that do well in the hot desert areas near the border of California (Hotter climate).
Desert peaches: These need a lot of water so they must be grown in a cooler area such as the higher elevation areas in Phoenix or near the mountain areas close to Phoenix. They do not like the hot weather of the low desert areas such as Yuma or Tucson.
Examples: Hotfire (Early, red), Flordaprince (yellow), Pajaro (late, yellow), Rio Oso Gem (red), July (yellow), Desert Gold (yellow)
Cool Climate: These trees grow larger and produce larger peaches than desert types but they still need a lot of water so they must be grown in the higher elevation areas in Phoenix.
Examples: Elberta (yellow), Donargold (yellow), Rexton (red)
Trees must be grown grafted or budded to make them more disease resistant and more productive. They will not grow true to type without this process.
Grafting is where a piece of one tree is attached to another tree. Budding is done by making a hole in the bark and placing a rooted piece of a different tree into the hole. The rooting system and the bud (where the rooted piece was placed) must be protected from damage until it heals over. Then they must be tied to a stake and cared for until established (at least a year).
Water trees at least once a week, more in really hot weather. Fertilize three times a year, early in the year, when leafs appear and when fruit starts to form.
It is only necessary to do this once the tree has started to bear fruit.
Growers have to be careful in buying a peach tree. Farmers often call their fruit trees peaches but they are not real peaches.
They are nectarines and will not grow well in Arizona. A true peach that grows off a rootstock that is not a peach will not grow well in Arizona. These trees need to be grafted or budded to a peach rootstock in order to be productive.
Go to the Home Grower’s Page or the Commercial Grower’s Page
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Sources & references used in this article:
Dwarf fruit trees for home gardens by RL Stebbins – 1964 – ir.library.oregonstate.edu
A virtual peach fruit model simulating changes in fruit quality during the final stage of fruit growth by F Lescourret, M Génard – Tree physiology, 2005 – academic.oup.com
Potential Relationship between Peach Tree Short Life Symptomology and Aberrant Wood Anatomy by D Werner, ML Parker, E Wheeler – HortScience, 1995 – journals.ashs.org
Hormonal factors involved in the control of vigour of grafted peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] trees and hybrid rootstocks by WH Chandler – 1907 – University of Missouri, College of …
Manipulating fruit tree structure chemically and genetically for improved performance by C Sorce, L Mariotti, R Lorenzi, R Massai – Advances in Horticultural Science, 2007 – JSTOR
Soil data for a thermokarst bog and the surrounding permafrost plateau forest, located at Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research Site, Interior Alaska by KC Davis – 1902 – West Virginia University Agricultural …
Peach production by JD Quinlan, KR Tobutt – HortScience, 1990 – journals.ashs.org
Cabium Browning of Cold-damaged Peach Trees in the Nursery by KL Manies, CC Fuller, MC Jones, MP Waldrop… – 2017 – pdfs.semanticscholar.org