Book Review

The Peach: Botany, Production and Uses

Edited by Desmond Layne and Daniel Bassi

CABI, Oxfordshire, UK, 2008. Hardcover, 9.6 x 6.8 x 1.6, 615 pages, extensive color section. ISBN-10: 1845933869; ISBN-13: 978-1845933869. List price $270 US; available at discounted prices from www.amazon.com.

Reviewed by Andy Mariani (5/2009)

Several years ago I wrote a review of a most endearing book about one of my favorite fruits—the peach. It was Mas Masumoto’s evocative Epitaph for a Peach. The subject of this review is also a book about peaches, but it’s an altogether different kind of peach book—not written by the farmer-poet from Fresno but by a cast of distinguished experts covering various aspects of peach culture.

It is encyclopedic in its content and perhaps the very best scientific and practical reference ever written on the subject. With editors Desmond Layne and Daniele Bassi, from the United States and Italy respectively, the book has an international flavor with 49 scientists from 8 countries writing chapters on various subjects relating to peaches. Given the differences in research reporting and writing styles, the editors have skillfully produced a book appearing more like a unified, cohesive whole rather than something off the Travel Channel.

This treatise is not a book for the casual fruit grower but a book primarily for techies in the field. Although moderately informed in genetics, I must admit that the chapter on genomics, a subject on which I plead ignorance, sailed straight over my head and left me scratching it in a state of failed comprehension. However, other chapters were quite understandable, including those on history, botany, cultivars, rootstocks, nutrition, planting systems, irrigation, pests and diseases. It is truly exhaustive in content, providing not only the nuts and bolts but also rivets and cotter pins— everything you need to know about peaches and peach production.

Moreover, each chapter is backed by voluminous references representing much of the worldwide literature currently available on peaches. CRFG members should note that there’s an entire chapter on low-chill peaches, and the chapter on cultivar development covers the newest introductions from Zaiger, Burchell and Bradford. The book is well illustrated with graphs, tables and also features almost 250 color plates.

For my part, I would read Masumoto’s classic work to instill the passion for growing fine peaches but would also keep this tremendous new reference very handy to furnish the tools needed to accomplish your goal.


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