There once was a variety of peach that was so admired for its flavor, adaptability, and size, that from the time of introduction to becoming the principal variety grown in zones 5b-9 was less than 10 years. This variety is the Loring Peach.
The Loring Peach is to this day considered by many the best choice for marginal peach growing areas, from the coastal and inland areas of zone 8-9 to the colder zones of 6A-5b and all in between.
But what happened to this variety is what often happens to fruit when evaluated for its commercial value; it failed in appearance.
The Loring Peach was developed at the Missouri State Fruit Station at Mountain Grove as a part of a project to discover superior varieties with winter bud hardiness and late-blooming qualities. The primary goal was to introduce better commercial varieties of peaches that would work well in the greater zones 5b-7b, which make up the state of Missouri. Under the direction of P.H. Shepard, a cross of the Frank peach with the Halehaven peach yielded many selections of which 2 we deemed superior. These were the Ozark and the Loring Peach, which were both introduced in 1946.
Though not as hardy as the project was hoping for, the Loring was undeniably a wonderful flavored selection with great size and as such, it was introduced. Reported to be a heavy cropping variety with good disease resistance - most notably to bacterial spot – the Loring peach caught on fast. The fast rise to popularity in the state quickly turned into a nationwide demand sought after by commercial growers.
The Loring was tested in many areas throughout the country with mixed results. Loring proved to be a little too early bloomer for most 5A zones and even in 5b if not given the best growing site possible.
But the Loring still faced an uphill battle, the commercial growers - though pleased with the cropping and size of the Loring’s fruit - were never quite happy with the lack of red in the skin. It was the case in the 1930’s, 1940’s and throughout most of the 50’s that a prevalent red blush indicated higher sugar to the consumer. Although this was far from the truth, it was what the peach growers of the time identified with as a value to their customer and as such, a replacement for the Loring was just a matter of time.
Along this time the variety became popular with the home gardener and the adapted areas for planting the Loring grew to zone 9 and coastal zone 8. Coming from a Midwestern hybridization program, it was not the obvious choice; but after some time, it caught on and became noted for its dependable production. Noted on both coasts from Virginia to Oregon, the Loring has become a common recommendation on many home garden suggested lists throughout the country.
Although varieties have come along to replace the Loring, commercially it has continued to be a popular home garden selection where, of course, the lack of a predominate red blush means nothing.
The Loring peach has many attributes for the home gardener - the biggest being its reliable production. Where Loring is suited it will always produce. Next is the wonderful flavor. Loring is a taste test winner in many panels conducted across the United States. Loring is a freestone peach that has a noted wonderful spring bloom, the yellow flesh surrounds a red pit with the harvest coming in the mid-season. The fruit is most often large sized and with firm flesh. It is great for drying, canning, cooking or, of course, fresh eating. The Loring’s fruit hangs on the tree well until ripe, but is known to self-thin; Meaning it will drop a portion of it crop in what appears an attempt to space the crop on its own on the tree before ripening.
If you are unsure of a peach variety to try, this may be the one to start with. Select the popular home garden variety, without which would most likely not be here today.
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