Tropic Prince, TexKing and TexPrince all were bred by Byrne to help Texas growers meet certain market windows, or times during the season when fresh peaches are otherwise not available to consumers in local grocery stores.
Byrne has spent his career trying to give Texas growers varieties that will fruit in areas that typically do not have the hours of cold temperatures required by peach trees to yield fruit.
Peach aficionados call it chill. Peaches are native to areas of China where it is a lot colder, a lot longer each year than the southern United States. Peach trees bred for the northern climes, therefore, need at least 650 hours -- or almost a month's worth -- of temperatures around 45 degrees before they will flower and fruit.
"What we've done is develop varieties that don't need a lot of chilling, to extend the areas that can grow peaches," said Byrne, whose breeding selection process focuses on medium chill (350-550 hours) to low chill (under 350 hours) more consistent with Texas production areas.
That's what the three new varieties offer. TexKing and TexPrince both are medium chill varieties needing only 450-550 chill hours. TexKing has an early ripening season whereas TexPrince is a mid-season peach. Tropic Prince is a low chill peach that needs only about 150 chill hours making it a good choice for growing in South Texas and southern Florida to California, as well as many other subtropical and tropical regions of the world.
For the southern peach grower, a variety with a low chill requirement means the crop can be grown to fill the market when no other peaches are available. That translates into more profits. Consumers get better quality available from local production consistently throughout the season, Byrne explained.