Nectarines are like peaches without the fuzzy skin, so some people prefer them for this reason alone. With the rise of giant agricultural businesses that supply the world with fresh produce, many old-fashioned, or heirloom, varieties of many fruits and vegetables have been forgotten, and some lost, due to hybridization. Several varieties of old-fashioned nectarines continue to exist. They are available through specialty companies that sell trees on the Internet.
The relatively small tree that produces the Arctic Queen nectarine does well in USDA zones 5 through 9. It produces white flesh fruit in fall. The texture is called rich and the texture crunchy, according to Trees of Antiquity. This freestone nectarine requires 600 to 700 hours of cold winter weather in order to set fruit.
A winner in nectarine taste tests, the Liz’s Late variety of heirloom nectarine is reported to produce spicy, sweet yellow fruit on a medium-sized dwarf tree. It’s a late producer, with fruit ripening into September. It’s well adapted to USDA zones 6 through 9 and like all the nectarine varieties, it requires a minimum number of hours of cold temperatures in order to set fruit. Yamagami’s Nursery in Cupertino, California, reports this tree needs 600 to 700 hours of chill time.
This heirloom nectarine has red skin and freestone fruit that is yellow. The tree size is medium and the sweet, good-tasting fruit ripens in late summer. The Panamint nectarine will tolerate warmer winters better than many other nectarine varieties. Trees of Antiquity reports it will grow and produce even in Southern California and in USDA zones 6 through 10, making it a good choice for people who love nectarines but who live in warmer areas.
Despite its name, which suggests this nectarine might prefer snowy climates, the Snow Queen requires less chill time than many other nectarine varieties. With only 250 to 300 hours of winter cold, this semi-dwarf tree will produce a good, early crop of large white-fleshed freestone fruit by the middle of June. It performs well in USDA zones 6 through 10.