California leads the nation in production of peach and nectarine (Prunus persica). In 2013, 24,000 acres of California clingstone peaches produced a crop of 368,000 tons of fruit valued at $133,865,000; 22,000 acres of California freestone peaches produced a crop of 280,000 tons valued at $144,418,000. This California crop of 648,000 tons represents 70% of the national peach production. Nectarines on 18,000 acres in the state produced a crop of 150,000 tons with a vaue of $117,000,000.(USDA 2014)
Peach and nectarine perform best on well-drained sandy-loam soil while calcareous, high clay content, or acid soils can reduce performance. Peach and nectarine are sensitive to chilling injury and compatible rootstocks which tolerate the adverse conditions are available. Because they do not require cross-pollination to set fruit it is not necessary to plant different cultivars in the orchard for pollination purposes. However, having a wide variety of peaches or nectarines that ripen at different times of the season will extend the cropping season and labor more uniformly.
Nectarine (Prunus persica var. nectarina) is a “fuzzless” peach with a tendency to have sweeter flesh, than the more acidic peach. The lack of pubescent skin is the result of a recessive gene. Nectarine gained popularity in the 1950’s when breeding allowed for firmer flesh and better post-harvest handling and longevity.