Now is the Time

By Eunice Messner


For those of you who do not have your own mango tree my condolences), you can now purchase the California grown, ‘ Keitt' mango at Costco. These are from the Three Flags Ranch that we visited near Salton Sea. They will be sold under the "Sungold" label. I am in mango heaven right now. The ‘Glenn' that should have ripened in September is coming in as well as the usually October ripening, ‘Thomson' and ‘Carnival'. They set fruit on the second blooming period – not the first that started in January. They are not real heavy crops, but enough to keep me happy. What I don't eat I freeze or dehydrate. (Am also dehydrating ‘Hachiya' persimmons while they are ripe but not soft.) Two new mangos that are producing for the first time are ‘Carrie' (3 fruits) and ‘Edwards' (11). It seems that ‘Carrie' is going to be another 4' dwarf like the other Florida varieties, ‘Kent' and ‘Tommy Atkins'. ‘Edwards' has some Indian parentage which should especially please the palate of those who remember ‘Mulgoba' fondly.


The first 'Shenseiki' and ‘Hosui' Asian pears that ripened in September were juicy but tasteless. The few remaining ones are delicious now that they've had some cool nights. I also like to leave apples on the tree as long as possible for improved flavor. I have an especially delicious variety of yam that I'll be harvesting for Thanksgiving. Don't wait until the last minute as yams need at least 2 weeks for their starch to turn to sugar.


E-MAIL correspondents claim ‘Sunshine Blue' does best in our climate but I doubt any of them have done the extensive research of our expert-at-large, Frank James. (I finally was able to see the tape of his talk and he says they are a little small.) Agricultural Research will be coming out soon with a new early summer, rabbit-eye blueberry ‘Alapaha'. It blossoms earlier than the commercial ‘Climax' of southeastern U.S. but fruits at the same time. None of the blue berries survived that I once planted in a bed of mostly peat moss, sandy soil and added sulfur. Either their roots were dried out when I got them or I used too much sulfur. But the papaya trees I planted in the same location love that bed. I'm wondering if maybe blueberries planted in between the tall ‘Thai' papaya would be a good use of understory space?


Lon Rombough, well-known grape consultant and CRFG source for grapes and scion wood, wrote in the "North American Fruit Explorers" magazine: "When I got the ‘Price' grape, I was mainly interested in the fact that it ripens very early, able to succeed even in places like Puget Sound, WA where the lack of summer heat makes fruit growing a challenge. Of 200+ varieties, only two or three ripen earlier than ‘Price'. Now usually when a variety pushes the limits on a trait, such as early ripening, you don't expect a lot from it in other areas. Yet I would put ‘Price' in the top five, if not the top three varieties in my collection Here's why: Vine: vigorous, but not excessively so. Growth habit is upright and easy to train. It does well trained to cordons with spurs having two to three buds each. It has general disease resistance. Fruit: The berries are blue-black --Though the flavor is somewhat similar to ‘Concord' it is much sweeter and more refined.------- It has seeds. But I don't consider that a flaw."