Dear Home Orchard Society,
My name is Ashley Pearce and I am a research assistant working with a ranch in Creston, California and I am searching for heritage fruit trees. The ranch is especially interested in planting cultivars that have historic connections to California, specifically Central California. The orchard is 40 acres and looks to include fruit from:
- Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Apricots, Pluots and Apriums
- Apples, Pears, Asian Pears and Quince
- Persimmons, Pomegranates
- Lemons and Limes
- Figs and Olives
- Almonds and Walnuts
Although understandably some of the older varieties do come with traits that are less than desirable, I would still be interested in any current or historic information you have about them and if they are still in cultivation and/or for sale because we are looking for fruit with unique flavors and appeal even if it involves care not common to commercial cultivation. In these regards, if you have any cultural information regarding these varietals, direct experience or links to other helpful sources, I would greatly appreciate your time and consideration. You can send me an email or call/text me at:
Thank you again for your time and consideration.
Hello Ashley Pearce,
This is an interesting project. Very few HOS members, in my experience will select a variety because it comes from Central California. Most of us don't even know where our scions come from. We mostly know what they taste like and how they grow here.
If you want people to help you with your project, making a list of varieties that are cover your interest will be helpful. Then people could recognize which ones you're talking about and give input. Without that input, I doubt that people will know which varieties you are referring to.
Ashley, at what elevation is your ranch? This matters a lot. You are pretty far south in a hot area. If it is insufficiently cold in the Winter, most apple varieties, will not do well for you.
Gravenstein might produce for you, other than that, I don't know. There is only one real Gravenstein, Green Gravenstein. Accept no other. It is a remarkably toothsome apple. It makes the very best, creamy apple sauce, and is excellent for fresh eating, with crisp, juicy, breaking flesh.. Doesn't keep worth a damn though.
The Elephant Heart Plum is extraordinary delicious. Developed by Luther Burbank. It has the same outward appearance as the well known Santa Rosa variety, but is superior in flavor, and its interior is a juicy purple-red delight.
Also of note is the French Prune. Similar in appearance to the Italian Plum (or prune) but superior in texture and flavor.
Perhaps I'll ring you.
Oh yes, and there is the "Rio Oso Gem" peach. The way I remember it, it is a humdinger. A very nice peach.
Reading the postings to this point, and based on what you said you were looking for, I have to say that the very first thing that sprung to mind is an apple called 'Sierra Beauty'. I t apparently grows best in central California. As I don't know it personally, I will quote from one of my apple reference books, namely, the late Tom Burford's book "Apples of North America":
"The seedling first appeared around 1890 on a slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California; some speculate that it was a vestige from miners in the early days of the California Gold Rush.It has held sporadic commercial success over the years. It re-emerged about 1920 near Chico, California, and was offered for awhile by some regional nurseries before being again lost from commerce. It was rediscovered in 1980 by the Gowan family in their Anderson Valley, California, orchard where it is now grown on a small commercial scale."
Tom's book was published in 2013, and I don't know how old his information was, but If I were in your position that's one of the first varieties that I'd look for. I'd also look into buzzoff's suggestion of the French prune, which is the traditional California plum grown for prunes. However, in the latter case, it would also depend on the elevation and microclimate of the ranch in Creston.
Don't know if that helps, but I offer my meager 2 cents.