We did it! We grew nectarines! The first harvest is in. Fifteen fruit. They are delicious, tree ripened and juicy. The flavor is reminiscent of peach combined with apricot, a touch of some sweet, fragrant flower and honey. I had to toss out almost as many as I kept. The bugs seem to really like nectarines, too. Since I grow everything organically, I didn’t apply any sort of bug killer this year to see how well the tree would produce without any help.
The five-year-old baby nectarine tree set its first fruit this year. It had an abundant crop. In June after the tiny fruit were showing, I stripped more than half off the limbs. Removing any fruit trying to grow toward the ends of the young limbs and thinning so no limb had a lot of fruit, I hoped to aid the tree in ripening a decent crop without putting too much strain on it.
The photo above was taken after I had harvested most of the fruit. I made sure the heavy nectarines would all be supported around the central, stronger part of the tree. The fruit only reached the size of large apricots. I’m not sure if that is their normal size, or if they are small because there were still too many for the tree to handle.
I noticed early in the summer that some insect was biting the fruit and causing it to bleed. Whatever did that didn’t leave any lasting impression. There are no tunnels or misshapen places on the nectarines. After the fruit was ripe, the bugs really closed in. A small black beetle with yellow stripes busily chewed little holes. The fruit wasps and fruit flies were quickly attracted to the open wounds. While I was harvesting, a white admiral butterfly kept landing on the nectarines. Butterflies like the juices of many fruits. At least the deer don’t seem attracted to the tree.
Even with all the competition, we have a very satisfactory first result from this tree. If we’re lucky, the tree with continue to thrive in our chilly, short season northern climate. I’m hoping next year there will be enough fruit to make some nectarine jam. Yum!