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Quince Scion & Rootstock Selection

The quince fruit becomes soft and suitable for eating raw when grown in its native climate, typically with a long, hot summer. Thus, favorable conditions in the San Joaquin Valley where most of the quince trees are grown can produce a large quince crop. Luther Burbank, the early California horticulturalist, released several cultivars in the 1890s which produced edible fruit ‘off-the-branch’ under California conditions. Two Burbank cultivars, ‘Van Deman’ and ‘Pineapple’ are currently in production (Postman 2009). For information about the of Quince cultivars and the USDA quince germplasm resource,  see ‘NCGR Corvallis – Cydonia Germplasm.

Quince as Pear Rootstock

Wertheim, a plant breeder in the Netherlands, discussed the use of quince as a dwarfing rootstock in high-density European-pear (Pyrus communis) plantings where small trees are desired (2002). He characterized good dwarfing rootstocks as those which induce early, regular cropping, good fruit size and quality, are easily propagated, sufficiently cold hardy, and tolerant to iron chlorosis and pear decline. He noted that breeding programs are continuing to develop quince rootstocks compatible with various pear scions and suitable for the range of pear production areas (2002). In the US, breeding programs are associated with Washington State University, Oregon State University, the USDA-ARS National Clonal Germplasm Repository, the University of California, and the USDA-ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Station, WV (http://ucanr.edu/sites/peargenomics/). Rootstock research and development for US pear production include Pyrus, Cydonia and other genera (Elkins et al 2011).

Tables 1 and 2 provide information for common quince varieties suitable for various California regions (Vossen and Silver 2000, Campbell 2001).  C. oblonga is called the ‘true quince’. There are several other species of quince which are regarded as ornamental shrubs; they bear fruit, but the fruit is not often used for consumption. These species include the Japanese (C. japonica), common ornamental (C. speciosa), and false quince (Pseudocydonia spp) (Cornell Univ. 2005).

Quince Common Cultivars

Table 1. Quince (C. oblonga)  Flowering season and description for common California cultivars. Sources:  1/Campbell 2001, 2/Vossen and Silver 2000. 3/ indicates low winter chill requirement, thus suitable for mild winter conditions.

Cultivar  Flowering1/  Fruit Size & Shape1/  Fruit Description2/ 
 Pineapple  Late season  Medium, pear-shaped  The preferred cultivar, pineapple flavor, white flesh, golden skin
 Champion  Early mid  Medium, pear-shaped  Green-yellow flesh
 Smyrna  Mid  Large, long pear-shaped  Orange-yellow flesh, golden skin, rich flavor, low chill fruit3/
 Orange  Early  Small-medium, pear-shaped  Orange-yellow flesh, golden skin, rich flavor, low chill fruit3/
 Van Deman  Early  Medium, pear-shaped  Pale yellow, coarse flesh, orange skin that turns red when cooked

Quince Harvest Period

 Table 2. Quince (C. oblonga)  Maturity and Harvest characteristics of common varieties for California regions. Sources:  1/Campbell 2001, 2/Vossen and Silver 2000.

 Cultivar   Maturity1/  Harvest Period2/
 Central Valley  Central & North Coast Sierra Nevada Foothills  Southern California 
 Pineapple  Mid late  Early October  October  October  Early October
 Champion  Mid  Early October  October  October  Early October
 Orange  Mid  Early September  September  September  Early September
 Smyrna  Mid  Early October  October  October  Early October
 Van Deman  Early  Early October  September  September  Early September