Last try peach. Contender or Reliance?

wyndwalkr(z4 WI)January 3, 2011

Here in zone 4 Wisconsin I have lost 2 peach trees to wind. First I grew a Reliance and got a decent crop of peaches the third year. Right after harvesting, the whole tree blew over in the wind. Thought it was just bad luck and I next planted a Contender. This past August with a large crop of peaches on, the tree blew over. I harvested the peaches, though. Now I am going to give peaches one more try with the espalier method with a dwarf. (The others were standard.)

I thought the Reliance peaches tasted very good. (Of course compared to shipped in fruit from the local grocery.) The Contender peaches may have been a tad short of ripe when the tree blew over, though they were a rosey color and I let them sit until they softened. Now I see the catalog says Reliance is considered a canning peach and Contender the leader in flavor for fresh eating.

Have any of you harvested ripe fruit from both and can give me a real person opinion and not just the glowing nursery catalog opinion? I would appreciate it because this is my last try and it will probably be 2014 before I taste my next homegrown peach.


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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Wind is probably not any bigger issue in WI than here in KS, and peaches are successfully grown here.

The key is to prune the trees thin. You want to reduce the amount sail the wind grabs and uses to pull the tree over. I think you'll get more fruit with less trouble with aggressive pruning vs. trying to train the peach to an espalier on a dwarf rootstock. I'm not even sure some of the new dwarf rootstocks for peaches are hardy to zone 4 (They may be, but you'd want to check first.)

As far as taste, I've grown Reliance and it didn't stack up to other varieties I've grown, so I pulled it out. PF 24C is supposed to be as cold hardy as Reliance with better flavor.

Lastly, it shouldn't take 3 years to get your first peach. Peaches fruit on 1 yr. wood. Mulch the trees liberally with grass clippings and leaves (and water when needed) and you should get enough growth the first season to produce 25-50 peaches the next.

I think if the your winters don't freeze them out, you should be tasting your next home grown peaches in 2012.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 3:03PM
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Kyrmsk 1 is supposed to be dwarfing to 50-60%, and I have been told it should be hardy to Z4 no problem. Also there is some data coming out of Cornell that the K1 rootstock increases the cold hardiness of the cultivar...most likely by encouraging early shut down in the fall, but that data came as a byproduct of a rootstock trial for productivity getting hit by two "test" winters in a row.

Cummins nursery has some of the PF series including PF 24C this year on that might be a good option for you. they might have reliance or contender...I didn't look.

I am going to give a few a try here, but am not real hopeful..Z4 is mostly wishful thinking I am told. Still if we could sneak in 4-5 years before a hard winter that would be a treat!.

I would listen to olpea in terms of dealing with your winds, plenty of experience there it seems.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 2:38PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

As far as taste goes, I was very happy with the few PF24C's that the squirrels didn't have time to get to. I plan to remedy that problem this year!!!!!

There have been other posts regarding this topic that you might be interested in:

Here is a link that might be useful: Finding a PF 24C peach tree

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 4:31PM
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alan haigh

Olpea, you get really good growth on your trees. Around here, it usually takes about 3 years to get crop from peaches as the first season is mostly recovery growth and trees start real small.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 6:20AM
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Reliance is my favorite peach! I grow 7 of them here in Kansas.I had fruit the second year. I have not lost one in the 10+ years I have grown them. I am going to try contender this year. It is hard to deal with wind,cold winters, hot summers like we have here in KS. Reliance is not the sweetest peach (I think they are a little sour when canned)in my opinion. It is the only peach I have been able to successfully grow and I have tried lots of other varities. I think they are great fresh. My trees are not over 15 feet which I attribute to clay soil and lots of wind. My trees came from Gurneys. If I could tell anyone in a harsh environment to grow 1 type of peach it would be reliance.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 6:58PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Whatever you do I would also stake up the tree next time. Do it the way you have seen in professional landscaping: a stake on either side with a wire with plastic on it holding the tree. I would also do standard since dwarf stocks don't have as strong a root support and blow over much more easily. Unless your soil is an unstable type the tree should stabilize on its roots after five years.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 9:26AM
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stavros(z5 MI)

Being in Michigan I wanted a cold hardy Peach so I planted a Wisconsin Balmer about 10 years ago. The info said it was developed by the University of Wisconsin. It is very robust and resistent to frost and has the very best and sweetest white peaches I have ever tasted. If you can find this variety I highly recommend it.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 1:41AM
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I grow both Contender adn Reliance. Both do well in my 4/5 climate. Reliance has fruited fine after 25 below. I have also planted China Pearl. This will be its first winter, here in Vermont.

Contender is my favorite tasting Peach, but both taste great when warmed by the summer sun and ripe off the tree.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 9:27AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

The Wisconsin Balmer is now know as the McKay. It can be gotten at McKay Nursery and at Woodstock Nursery.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wallace Woodstock Nursery

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 1:33PM
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