Have you grown any nectarines that look like this?
This is the Goldmine nectarine, and sadly, they have a tendency to get marks on their skin. Not very pretty, is it?
The good news is they only do it if they get rained on when they’re almost ripe. Or when they’re not quite ripe. Oh, or if the weather conditions don’t suit them perfectly. Or you look at them the wrong way!
Yes, like many heritage varieties, they’re a bit fussy!
Why are heritage nectarines vulnerable?
Heritage varieties often have thin skin, and this is particularly true for Goldmine.
This means they tend to mark very easily. It’s one of the reasons that many heritage varieties are no longer grown commercially. Commercial fruit is picked into bulk bins, then put over a grader in the packing shed, packed into boxes, and then transported by truck to market.
No matter how carefully the grower tries to manage each stage of the process, some bruising is inevitable. Thin-skinned varieties are just not robust enough to get to market in good condition.
These fragile fruits are also prone to other problems. For example, Leaf curl on your nectarine trees usually just affects the leaves. But Goldmine are so sensitive that Leaf curl damage can even show up on the skin of the fruit.
Is it worth growing heritage varieties?
If skin marks are severe enough they can crack and become the site for an infection to start. More commonly though, they’re literally just skin deep and don’t affect the quality of the fruit underneath.
Despite the problems with heritage varieties, they still deserve a place in your garden. They might be a pain to get to market in good condition, but the home gardener has a huge advantage.
You get to tree-ripen the fruit and eat it when it’s perfect.
There’s a pretty good chance that they’ll have some skin marks and not look as pretty and blemish-free as we expect modern fruit to look. But it’s worth it, because most heritage varieties are absolutely delicious!
We no longer have any Goldmine trees in our orchard because the trees were burnt in the fire we had a few years ago. But they were too good to let go, so we still grow and sell the trees in Carr’s Organic Fruit Tree Nursery.
Despite all the difficulties, we love them and frequently recommend them for home orchards.
If you can tend the tree carefully, protect the fruit and then pick it when it’s beautifully ripe and ready to eat, you can end up with a result as perfect as these beauties!
Looking after your trees properly can help
It’s quite hard to find Goldmine trees these days (and almost impossible to buy the fruit) because they’re very unfashionable. But if you have space for a tree in your garden and can track one down (and you have time to look after it properly) it will reward you.
Looking after your nectarines carefully is key. We’ve put together a short course called Perfect Peaches (nectarines and peaches are closely related and require the same care). It will help you with how to control Leaf curl and the other main issues that can affect your nectarine and peach trees.
Care, and attention to detail at the right time will give you the best possible chance of getting some decent fruit from those heritage beauties.
Fiddly, but worth the bother.