I need the experts!

cindy_7January 20, 2011


Last year I had to take down all of my peach trees on the advise of Jellyman. They were too old (22 years) and didn't produce a single fruit even though they flowered like crazy.

So, this year I am looking to put in some new ones. I'm looking at Red Haven, PF Flamin Fury 17, Early Star, Contender, and Sentry from Adams County Nursery.

I'm in Northern Virginia and would like trees that produce their fruit before the end of August. Also, I only have room for three trees and need varieties that are pretty tough as summers here can be quite miserable. Last year we had 65 days over 90 degrees.

If there are other varieties that would be better, please let me know as I'm starting from scratch here - again.

Please let me know which of these varieties would be the best for my location.

Thanks for any help.


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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Any of the ones you mention should do well for you. Peaches have no problem taking 90+ temps. In fact they seem to thrive at high temps till it gets over 100F.

Of the ones you mention, I currently grow Redhaven and Earlystar.

Redhaven is one of my favorites. Of all the peaches, I believe it's still the most widely planted. It produces like crazy, and maintains decent size even under very heavy cropping. I like the flavor and texture. The color is beautiful. It's a very nice freestone.

Earlystar is a decent peach, although not my favorite for an early peach. Despite what you might read about it being semi-freestone, it's really a cling peach. For the most part all those very early peaches are clings.

My favorite early peach is PF1, which is 8 days earlier than Earlystar. It's also a cling.

Sentry is supposed to be a very good peach. It's become the industry standard for it's harvest window (-10 Redhaven) replacing the old industry standard, Garnet Beauty. At some point, I intend to try Sentry.

Contender is probably a fine peach. It's claim to fame is its winter hardiness, which is of no significance in your zone. I would instead recommend Coralstar, which ripens close to it. I planted Coralstar based on a recommendation from a regular poster on this forum (Hman) and agree the peach is very good.

If you chose PF1, Redhaven, and Coralstar for your three picks, that would give you peaches -30, 0, and +20, which would be a nice spread.

I don't remember reading the thread where Jellyman suggested you cut down your trees. I'm curious, what were some of the specifics? It's bizarre your trees quit producing, and yet still flowered. I know of a peach tree around here about 30 years old and it still produces every year.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 1:47AM
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alan haigh

Yes, I wouldn't cut down old trees until I'd grown replacements. Were you spraying them? As they get older that can get increasingly infected with brown rot.

If I was you I'd plant a late peach instead of a very early one- Elberta or one of the newer ones that ripen at around that time or a bit later. The quality of peaches later in the season tend to be substantially better than the earliest.

One thing about Red Haven and Coralstar that make them good home orchard choices is that their peaches ripen over about a 3 week period which is about a third longer than average.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 6:18AM
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Thank you for the help.

I was actually corresponding with Don directly as he lives about three or four miles from me. I also went over to his house to see his orchard and we spoke quite a bit last summer. However, I am worried about him as he has not answered my latest email.

I needed to cut the trees down as the new ones are going where the old ones were. And yes, they did have brown rot. The inner rings were quite decayed.

My spraying of them the last few years has not been adequate. Though they were labeled "dwarf" they did not grow that way and even with heavy pruning they became too large for my reach.

Thanks for the additional suggestions of varieties.

Which nursery would best for acquiring dwarf varieties?


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 11:16AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I'm not sure how small you want to keep your peach trees, but if you are just trying to keep them w/in reach, you might consider using standard rootstocks, and prune to keep the trees lower. Peach trees aren't hard to keep small by pruning. I simply cut off anything taller than what I want. Starting scaffolds lower also helps.

Peaches are easier to grow in standard rootstocks.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 1:42PM
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I planted a RedHaven and Harrow Diamond this year based more on disease resistance than anything else, as I have had brown rot in the past. They came from Edible Landscaping potted in long thin pots, but look pretty good. The other one suggested by Cummins Nursery was the PF 19-007 for good fruit as well as disease resistance. Anyone have any experience with these? Are they truly disease resistant?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 1:54PM
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alan haigh

Early peaches are less susceptible to brown rot because the fruit is exposed to less hot, humid weather than later varieties which is an important attribute in avoiding BR although not the only one. I believe that the early ripening is what gives these two an advantage.

Two later varieties that are relatively resistant to this disease are Harcrest and Elberta but Harcrest has become hard to come by. All the above have some resistance to bacterial leaf spot, which is another disease we think a lot about in the east.

BR resistance is not generally looked at by U.S. breeders but is by the Canadians which is why Canadian bred stone fruit clones such as Harcrest and Harrow Diamond are often rated good on BR resistance.

I would never buy a peach tree from EL because you are paying for the pot and soil and getting a smaller tree for more money than what you could get from someone like Adams County Nursery.

Many of us were concerned about Don's dropping out from this forum when it was brought up here. He finally responded saying he was alright, but just decided to take a break from his stellar fruit tree gurudom. The community here certainly misses him.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 3:28PM
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kansasapple(KS 5/6)

I have about 50 Red Havens that I bought from ACN in 2004. The trees were bare-root and well developed. Of the 25 varieties in my peach orchard it has been the top commercial variety for consistent production. Our summers are long and hot with at least a week or two in the 90s and 100s (Kansas).

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 5:45PM
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For me, my later peach also suffered less from bird damage, though that may also have been because it is Georgia Belle, a white peach. My Red Haven were decimated by Bluejays, while the Belle of Georgia were almost untouched.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 10:27AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I've found skin color is what makes the biggest difference. Birds go after my reddest peaches first. Georgia Belle doesn't have much color, so they leave it alone.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 11:35AM
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alan haigh

That tends to be an advantage of older varieties. A lot of the breeding for intense color is recent. Birds will always be drawn first to bright red. With apples they also like the less hard and seem to prefer Cortlandt here to most others, pecking them at the reddest part of the apple.

Here, Georgia B. still looks green when it's dropping off the tree, even if it has some blush.

There's also a tremendous difference site to site how bad bird predation of fruit will be and I find it pretty unpredictable with nearly neighboring sites having much different bird issues.

Here the problem drops off quite a bit once the migraters head south in early Sept.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 12:41PM
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Yup. My GB just had a little blush when ripe, but they sure were a treat after the almost complete loss of the RH. Northstar cherry must just be too sour to attract the birds. They did get some of my red apples, but didn't do nearly as much damage as they did to the Red Haven peach. They did go after the very dark red Geneva crab apples, too. Mostly seemed to be bluejays doing the dirty deed.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 1:02PM
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My "Contender" is still a young tree, so this may be premature, but....I don't like the flavor much. I live in a late frost area more than a bitter cold area, and I haven't noticed any phenomenal cold resistance. You live in a fundamentally suitable area for growing peaches I would think, so why go out on a limb with tricky varieties suited for borderline areas?

"Polly" a white peach developed in the 1920's in Iowa is my best producer and absolutely delicious. I have it on 'Citation' rootstock. Broke branches two years in a row in mediocre setting circumstances. It was slow to come into production, however. I don't know if that was happenstance or a varietal characteristic.

I second what everyone else says about good old Redhaven. It WANTS to set fruit for you. Its not really ideal for my area, but really you have to go very far to beat it.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 1:16AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)


About the "Contender" ...I have "Reliance" and they tend to be garbage compared to other peaches. I had 4 trees. 1 large "Reliance" and 3 others that were suppose to be that, but ended up being something different (later/less hardy/much larger fruit/better coloring)...I'm pretty sure they were some type of Redhaven. They were far better then the Reliance, but winter killed them pretty good so I had to remove them...

I'm going with pots and overwintering from now on... I'll get good peaches one way or another.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 1:49PM
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