Thinking of establishing a private orchard in the Highveld? Nectarine is one of the fruit trees you may want to consider planting.

Prunus persica var nusipersica is originally from China and is one of the first tree crops to be domesticated about 4000 years ago. Most varieties of this tree species now grown all over the world today derive largely from the ecotypes native to Southern China. Nectarine trees were then moved to Persia and the name persica denotes Persia. The common Nectarine varieties grown in South Africa include Mayglo, Sunlite and Flavortop.

A Nectarine is a natural mutant of a Peach tree. Flowers of Nectarine are similar in form and structure to those of Peach however; Nectarine flowers are smaller and have longer pedicels. The fruits of Nectarine tree have a smooth skin while those of Peach have a velvety skin.

A Nectarine tree can be grown as an espalier to increase its beauty in the landscape. The art of espalier is the training of trees or shrubs in a formal or informal fashion usually against a wall or fence. Espalier growing has been practiced in Europe for centuries with many fine examples in existence. This tree can also be grown as a container plant on the patio, however it will not grow as big as the one planted in the ground.

Prunus persica var nusipersica requires a fair amount of pruning. This is necessary to maintain a size that is easily manageable, and to ensure sunlight reaches the ripening fruit in the centre of the tree. Pruning should be done when the tree is dormant [without leaves]. If pruned during the growing period, the fruit may be slower to ripen [as the tree’s carbohydrate production has been lessened] or newly exposed fruit may get sunburned. This tree grows best in full sun and requires a minimum of six hours sun per day