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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - May 07, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Fruit trees from seeds
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Will fruit trees (primarily peach) produce fruit if grown from a seed?

ANSWER:

Good question.  The short answer is yes.   The long answer is a little more complicated.  The fruits you buy in the store are from cultivated plants that have been selected for their superior qualities - size, flavor, color, shipping and holding characteristics being among the most notable.  All of these qualities are determined partially by the skill of the fruit growers, but primarily by the fruits' genetic blueprint.  The seed within the fruit, however, has a different set of potential characteristics owing to the union of the genes from both the female and male parents. In practical terms, it means that most seedling fruit trees grown from commercially grown fruit is often vastly inferior in size, flavor, color and other characteristics to both its maternal and paternal parent trees.  In other words, you have to grow a lot of tree seedlings, as a rule, to find a winning fruit producer.  This is exactly what some commercial and many amateur fruit growers do; always looking for a superior cultivar to produce and market.  Most peach seedlings produce very small, hard and knotty fruit that is scarcely useful, if edible at all. Occasionally, a chance seedling from a discarded fruit pit or core will produce a special and commercially successful tree.  The McIntosh apple is a good example of such a cultivar.  The McIntosh apple is among the most well-known and produced apples in production today.  But all McIntosh apples are direct descendants of a single chance seedling found on an Ontario farm in 1811.
 

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