Kreibich: A Nectarine for Damp Places

This young Kreibich nectarine tree has never been sprayed.

It’s hard to grow peaches and nectarines in the Willamette Valley. Because of the eight months or so of nearly ceaseless rain, the trees have to be sprayed against the deadly peach-leaf curl, and the spraying must be done at times when you usually can’t spray, because it’s raining.

I generally fail to spray, and I’ve had trees die for that reason. So a few years ago I planted a nectarine variety that’s supposed to be resistant to leaf curl. Discovered by Roland Kreibich in western Washington and available from One Green World, this new variety produces nectarines that are both small and late but also white-fleshed and deliciously flavored–except for a distinct bitter note.

Here’s my first crop of ‘Kreibich’. See the chewed spots? The damage was done by cucumber beetles, who were all over the fruits at harvest time. I’d kept the bitter-loving beetles away from the cucumbers this year by interplanting the cukes with marigolds. So apparently the beetles found a new source of embitterment in my young ‘Kreibich’ tree.

The fruit had to be used fast. The bitterness, I found, was mostly in the skins, which were ravaged anyway. So I’d peel the nectarines. Then they would be perfect for canning in syrup or, even better, for pickling.

But I went into town for a few hours, and when I got home I was too late. My daughter had turned the whole crop into a tart.

It was an excellent tart, actually. Although Becca hadn’t bothered to peel the nectarines, the sugar disguised their bitterness. And the spicy quince jelly with which she had glazed the tart complemented the smoothness and fragrance of the nectarines. After the first bite I stopped complaining that I couldn’t make nectarine pickles.

Little has yet been written on the ‘Kreibich’ nectarine, but a grower on Vashon Island, Washington, writes that early rains cause the fruits to split. I haven’t had this problem, perhaps only because September has been dry this year. I can’t swear to the worthiness of this variety after just one year’s harvest, but I have high hopes for next year. After another year’s growth, maybe I’ll get a tart and a quart or two of nectarine pickles besides.

UPDATE 2022: One year, before we sold the farm, our tree did experience fruit splitting, because of early rains. And in our last two years it also suffered some leaf curl. ‘Kreibich’ is resistant but not immune to that disease.

0 thoughts on “Kreibich: A Nectarine for Damp Places”

  1. I planted the same variety in my backyard and was thinking of pulling the tree up until I read this post. My experience is that if you don’t pick them green-ish they will, in the next day, fall off the tree and smash and smush on the ground. I have a bowl of semi-mushed ones in the fridge as we speak and was thinking of turning them into jam or that non-descript cooked chutney (you know the one. No matter how you try it always taste like, well, cooked sweet-ish fruit and onion chutney). Perhaps I will harvest the rest of the greenish ones and use them as you would under ripe mangoes in some Indian inspired fresh chutney. When mixed together with green tomatoes and according spices it might well be a lovely affair.

    Thanks for reminding me about the variety. I too got them from a nursery that got them from One Green World. The tree has been fighting off some amber sap stuff oozing from some of its branches but I’m just standing back and seeing who wins the battle — the tree or the funk. The leaves do curl a bit in the beginning of the season but right themselves out. I have never sprayed and this year probably got 25 nectarines in all. Not bad but its not a real winner so I was on the fence about it. I will keep it in solidarity with you and the fresh chutney that I have yet to make but will surely be good. Damn though, tell the girl that tart looked GOOD. And with Quince jam glazing the top… Inspired

  2. The tart looks delish! I have to tell you, Reluctant Entertainer posted this post on Facebook and what brought me over was…Willamette Valley. My kids and I are in the middle of reading Moccasin Trail, the story of pioneers that settle in Willamette. I’m glad I stopped by. I like your little corner of the world!

  3. The kreibich I have didn’t produce this year, which is the same for my peaches. Last year when we had an oddly hard August rain it did split them beyond use. The tree is handsome, to bad it doesn’t want to fruit for me, but then again I do live four hours north of you, and Puget Sound is cooler and rainier than the Willamette Valley.

  4. So the marigolds were effective? Those damn cucumber beetles ruin my cucumber crop every year.
    Quince and nectarine sounds like a lovely combination.

    1. The marigolds–Crackerjack Mix, from Livingston Seeds–seemed to be effective, but I’ll have to try them for a few more years to know for sure. Two of the cuke varieties I planted (Diva and County Fair) were bitter-free, which means they are unattractive to cucumber beetles anyway.

  5. I have a small farm near Sacramento, CA, USDA zone 9. I planted a Kreibich years ago after seeing it offered in my favorite catalog, Burnt Ridge Nursery in Washington. It is a reliable, heavy producer and the earliest nectarine I have. However it is prone to some kind of blight that causes the fruits to begin to rot on the tree as they ripen. Maybe botrytis? I haven’t had time to figure it out……This year was a dry spring, and so this occurrence was minimal. I use winter dormant sprays and they are on a regular fertilizer program. While I wouldn’t want lots of these trees, having one or two is definitely an asset. The earlier comment about picking them slightly greenish/firm is spot on…if these are allowed to get soft ripe they cannot be transported and have a brief shelf life.

  6. I love the Kreibich–there was an older white-fleshed nectarine in our yard when we move in but it was diseased so we had to take it out. But it had the most incredible-tasting fruit, so I was happy to find Kreibich. It’s not leaf curl-free, but it gets little. I grow it as an espalier. I don’t understand why you have bitter skins unless you’re picking them too early. Your photo shows them somewhat greenish (they should be orange & yellowish). I pick them when they’re fully ripe (when they almost fall off the tree) and the sweetness if out of this world–no bitterness. I dried some last summer and we just finished them up. Extraordinary flavor, as good as the tree we had to take out.

    1. Since writing about the Kreibich I’ve been seeing some leaf curl, but the tree is still healthy.

      The skins are bitter even when the fruits fall from the tree, but the damage from cucumber beetles seems to cause premature and incomplete ripening. I’m wondering, Eileen, if the difference in our experience might be due to a happy lack of cucumber beetles in your garden.

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