Two new peach varieties that are less prone to bruising and remain firm longer have been developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists.

The new varieties, Gulfking and Gulfcrest, were made available to growers in 2003 and will be available to consumers in limited quantities in the summer of 2005.

They were developed by Thomas Beckman at the ARS Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, Georgia, and colleagues from the University of Georgia and the University of Florida. Both varieties, known as "nonmelting" peaches, resist bruising and remain firm longer while ripening on the tree and after canning.

In test plantings, both varieties appeared to be resistant to bacterial spot on the leaves and fruit.

ARS is the US Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.