The new varieties, Gulfking and Gulfcrest, were first made available to growers in 2003 and a limited number should be on sale to consumers this summer.
They were developed by Thomas Beckman at the ARS Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, Georgia, and colleagues from the University of Georgia and the University of Florida.
Both varieties are known as "nonmelting" peaches, according to the ARS, meaning that they resist bruising and remain firm longer while ripening on the tree and after canning.
Gulfking typically ripens in early May - 73-80 days from full bloom - and when ripe, its skin is mostly red on a deep- yellow to orange background. The flesh is firm and sweet and does not turn brown readily when bruised or cut.
Gulfcrest has a slightly longer harvest period, from early to mid-May. The fruit is medium to large and also has a mostly red skin on a deep-yellow to orange background. The flesh is firm, with good sweetness, and contains some red flecks in the outer flesh on the sun-exposed side of the fruit.
Like Gulfking, this peach doesn't brown readily when bruised or cut.According to an article in January's edition of the ARS magazine, Gulfking is a cross of UFGold and an unreleased selection that was a cross between Sunprince and Majestic. Gulfcrest, on the other hand, is the result of a 1995 cross between Spring Baby and an unreleased selection that was a cross between Aztecgold and Oro A.
In test plantings, both varieties appeared to be resistant to bacterial spot on the leaves and fruit, noted the ARS, adding that since peach-growing has become big-business it is important that farmers produce fruit that can arrive at market intact - and varieties that ripen sequentially to avoid gaps in production.