Peach production in France is constantly confronted with marketing problems due to a decrease in fruit consumption and increasing competition with neighbouring Mediterranean countries. The production of higher quality products using production methods such as organic farming (OF) appears to be a tangible way of differentiating and enhancing peach production. To test this hypothesis, an on-farm study was conducted in one of the major production areas in South-eastern France. Focussing on the peach cultivar, cv. Spring Lady®, paired comparisons were conducted between plots in OF and conventional farming (CF). Farmers' practices were identified and checked against crop measurements and performances (yield, sugar content, size classes) in 2004 (12 plots) and in 2005 (10 plots). Polyphenol contents were assessed as an additional component of fruit quality, using the Folin-Ciocalteu colorimetric method. Organic peaches have a higher polyphenol content at harvest. Contents were 4.8 times higher in 2004, whereas the same phenomenon was not observed in 2005. Levels of nitrogen, yield and tree vigour management appeared to be the key elements responsible for the synthesis of total polyphenols and sugar content This implies new opportunities for improving the nutritional quality of peaches, based on production methods
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