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Nectarine Varieties

Nectarine on tree1

Nectarine on treeNectarines come to harvest in spring and continue through summer. If you get to know your nectarines and choose from early, midseason, and late harvest varieties, you can have fresh, local nectarines at your table for nearly half the year.

The best way to select nectarines is to smell them and gently squeeze them. A nectarine ready for eating out of hand will be fragrant and not too hard. A ripe nectarine will give to gentle pressure at its seam.

Stay away from greenish colored nectarines or those that are too hard, cracked, bruised, or have blemishes.

There are hundreds of varieties of nectarines. Here are descriptions of several nectarines you might want to try and a note on when they come to harvest:

Arctic Jay: large nectarine with pale yellow skin and red blush; flesh is white with a rich, sweet flavor; freestone. Midseason harvest.

Artic Rose: medium-size fruit with a white to pale yellow skin and red blush; white, sweet flesh; semi-freestone. Early harvest.

Artic Star: large nectarine with bright red skin; white flesh is very sweet and rich flavored; semi-freestone. Early harvest.

Armking: large nectarine with olive-green skin and reddish cast; flesh is yellow with sweet aroma, semi-freestone; from California. Early harvest.

Desert Dawn: small to medium fruit with red skin; yellow, firm, sweet, juicy flesh and aromatic; semi-freestone; from California. Early harvest.

Double Delight: medium-size fruit with dark red skin; yellow flesh with rich flavor; freestone. Midseason harvest.

Fairlane: large nectarine with red over yellow skin; yellow flesh; clingstone; from California. Late harvest.

Fantasia: large oval fruit with bright red over yellow skin; yellow, firm, smooth flesh with excellent flavor; freestone from California. Midseason harvest.

Firebright: large nectarine with red over yellow skin; firm, smooth, juicy, yellow flesh with great flavor; semi-freestone from California. Midseason harvest.

Fire Sweet: medium nectarine with flaming red and yellow skin; firm, smooth, juicy yellow flesh that is very sweet; clingstone from California. Midseason harvest.

Flavortop: large nectarine with red skin flecked; yellow; firm, juicy, golden yellow flesh streaked with red and great flavor; freestone from California. Midseason harvest.

Goldmine: large fruit with red blushed over white skin; white flesh that is tasty; freestone from New Zealand. Late harvest.

Heavenly White: very large nectarine with creamy white skin that is heavily blushed red; white flesh and excellent flavor that is favored by connoisseurs; freestone. Midseason harvest.

Independence: medium to large nectarine with cherry-red skin; firm, yellow flesh and good flavor; freestone from California. Midseason harvest.

John Rivers: medium to large fruit with white skin and crimson blush; greenish white flesh is tender and juicy; semi-freestone from England. Early harvest.

Juneglo: medium-size fruit with red skin; yellow flesh and very good flavor; freestone. Early havest.

Le Grand: large nectarine with bright red and yellow skin; yellow flesh with rubbery texture; delicate, semi-acid taste; clingstone from California. Late harvest.

Liz’s Late: medium-size nectarine with red-over-yellow skin; yellow flesh with a sweet-spicy flavor; freestone. Late harvest.

Mericrest: medium-size nectarine with bright red skin; yellow, flavorful flesh; freestone. Midseason harvest.

Nectar Babe: small to medium-size fruit with dark red skin; yellow flesh with good flavor; freestone. Midseason harvest.

Necta Zee: medium-size nectarine with red skin; yellow flesh is sweet and flavorful; freestone; Early to midseason harvest.

Panamint: medium to large fruit with bright red skin; yellow flesh; freestone California. Midseason harvest.

Pioneer: small to medium sized nectarine with a thin yellow skin with a red blush; yellow flesh touched with red; freestone from California. Midseason harvest.

Ruby Grand: large nectarine with ruby skin; firm yellow flesh with great flavor; freestone. Early to midseason harvest.

Silver Lode: medium fruit that is most red over creamy yellow with red specks; juicy, sweet flavor; freestone from California. Early to midseason harvest.

Snow Queen: very large nectarine that is fair-skinned and a light russet blush; white, melting, juicy flesh that is fine textured; freestone from California. Early harvest.

Southern Belle: large fruit with yellow skin and red blush; yellow flesh has good flavor; freestone. Early harvest.

Stanwick: medium fruit with a greenish white skin that has a shade of purple red; white flesh is juicy; semi-freestone origin unknown. Late harvest.

Stark Sunglo: large fruit with yellow skin overspread in part with red; yellow flesh that reddens near pit; slightly acid flavor; freestone from California. Midseason harvest.

Stribling Giant Free: large nectarine with yellow skin blushed with red; yellow tasty flesh; freestone from California. Midseason harvest.

Stribling White Free: large fruit with white skin blushed with red; white, sweet and juicy flesh with a creamy texture; freestone from California. Early harvest.

Sun Grand: large nectarine with red-blushed yellow skin; firm, yellow flesh; freestone from California. Midseason harvest.

Sunred: small to medium fruit with bright red skin; yellow flesh is firm and flavorful; semi-freestone from Florida. Early harvest.

2W68W: large nectarine with red over yellow skin; firm flesh and excellent flavor; freestone from California. Early to midseason harvest.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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  1. My family’s ranch in the Central Valley of California had a nectarine tree and the fruit was medium size with olive-green skin with black mottling and white flesh that had a flavor better than any nectarine I have tasted. I’m trying to find the name of it. A nursery in New Zealand had what looked like the same fruit tree in their book but didn’t have any in stock. They had it as a Japanese variety that came to California in the 1950’s. Does anybody know this variety????

  2. I I am interested in acquiring a nectarine plant for medical research I work for the Department of Medical Research at the University of Washington State

  3. We lost our Fay Elberta peach tree after many years. Now we want a nectarine, but one that can also be bottled–so we know we want yellow flesh and freestone, probably early harvest. My guess would be Juneglo or Ruby Grand, However, I notice the mention of ‘firm smooth flesh’ on Fantasia…. would it then be much better for bottling?

  4. I’ve gotten “mango flavored nectarines” at local Southern California farmers markets (Arnett Farms). They are firm yellow flesh, red skinned. Any idea what variety they could be?

    • The Mango Nectarine was developed by the Ito Fruit Company in Reedley, California. The Mango Nectarine is a cross between two pale-skinned heirloom nectarines. Check at a nearby fruit tree nursery to see if they can get you Mango Nectarine trees. If you are looking for the Mango Nectarine at a produce store simply use that name; several growers are sending them to market.

      • It’s not the yellow/green pale nectarine that comes up when you google mango nectarine. This is a firm yellow nectarine that is very sweet with yellow and red skin. They advertise it as “mango flavored nectarine” in So Cal farmers markets but I have no idea what it is.

    • Check for the availability of Flavortop nectarine at a nearby garden center or nursery. Online check with Dave Wilson Nursery or Nature Hills Nursery. You can also check with the nearby cooperative extension office for a local fruit growers organization; members may grow Flavortop.

    • Nectarines can generally grow in Zones 5 to 9 which includes the UK. The varieties Reliance and Mericrest are good choices in cooler regions. Check the number of chill hours–that is hours each year below 45F/7C–that the varieties you wish to grow require; make sure the hours in your regions are sufficient for the variety you choose. Reliance requires 1,000 chill hours. If you are in a mild region choose Gulf Queen (150 chill hours) or Desert Delight (100 to 200 chill hours). Check with a local garden center or garden club to find other nectarine growers in your area or for varieties recommended.

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