Best tasting peach (tree) for home garden

olympia_gardener(5)March 26, 2012

Hi, I am looking to add couple more peach trees into my back yard this year . Would like anyone recommend some varities that meet the following:

--Must grow in Zone 5. 4 even better.

--Have soft melting texture when ripe ( I don't care it is free stone or not)

--honey sweet and juicy.

I am not looking for a tree with load of fruits, I don't feed army here. Don't looking for long storage quality neither. Just want pick up a fresh peaches off the tree and eat it right away.

BTW I have heard Contender is very soft, juicy, and sweet Does anyone actually had one before? Whay it taste like?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Randy31513(Georgia 8b)

To me the latter in the season the peach becomes ripe the better the peach as general rule of thumb. Like watermelons, the hotter the growing season the better the melon.

Most folks try to sequence their peach tree selections so fresh peach season last longer anyway.

I am with you, a fresh, full ripe peach off the tree is hard to beat.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 1:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

One of the PF series, as late as you can afford it. Cummins (I think) gives the maturity date w.r.t Redhaven, so you can orient yourself.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 2:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks both for pointing out the late season variety. I will look into it. The late season also means later blooming, I guess? which means less suceptable to unexpected spring forst, I hope?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 3:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
olpea(zone 6 KS)

"The late season also means later blooming, I guess?"

No. Timing of peach bloom is more closely related to chill hr. requirement. Chill requirement has nothing to do with harvest date.

I grow PF1 which is a very early peach and it blooms a couple days later than Autumnstar which is a very late peach (Autumnstar is one of my earliest bloomers.)

Cold hardy peaches are discussed here from time to time. The names that keep coming up are Reliance, PF24c, Contender, Intrepid, and a few others.

Of the ones mentioned, I've only grown Reliance and pulled it out because of quality issues. I've got Contender but this will be the first season I expect it to fruit (if we don't get froze out). I've heard good reports on the quality of PF24c.

You indicate you want a "soft melting texture". Peaches are sometimes classified as "melting" or "non-melting". Have you ever had a tree ripened melting and tree ripe non-melting?

The reason I ask, some people have eaten firm peaches picked too early and thus negatively categorized them (even though some of these peaches actually may be "melting" peaches.

I like both melting and non-melting peaches if they are picked ripe. Picked ripe, both will be equally juicy.

Below is a link of a page on my Website where I describe the problem with typical peaches. Understand from a marketing standpoint, I highlight the positives of our fruit as anyone selling a product should. That said, anyone can grow good peaches, if they take the time and effort and don't pick them too early.

The biggest influence on the taste of peaches is picking at the proper time. The second most important influence is probably water (too much water dilutes the flavor). Third would probably be variety. Some varieties do excel and I (as well as many others on this forum) continue to seek out the best tasting varieties.

The problem with cold-hardy peaches is that there is a very limited number of varieties to choose from, but you can still grow delicious juicy peaches from any of the cultivars listed above.

Here is a link that might be useful: Peach Quality

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 10:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Seems like the major concern is just simply bearing fruit up in Zone 4/5... Not having all the fruit buds frozen off or just dying... Once you can find a tree that can handle it and pick a properly sheltered location - then you can start thinking about the "Finest quality"... ANY fully tree ripened peach is going to be worlds better than almost every Supermarket peach picked.... Let's face it - no fruit = no fun....

Personally - where you are at... I would NOT pick a late peach... Your growing season just isn't long enough... You will still have green fruit on the tree when the 1st frosts hit and kill the fruit... I would try instead to find a fairly early peach - then you will have enough warm days to mature the fruit.... This will give you Sweet, juicy, Peachy tasting fruit....

It's a totally different world where I am at... I can pick peaches that take 120+ days to ripen - and that puts me into July/early August - I am in no danger of loosing fruit... 90 days where you are at is probably pushing the edge of the envelope for reliable fruit ripening...

So that's where I would start....


    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 9:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Olpea, Thanks for the useful info. and corrected me on the blooming time and fruit rip time. I appreciate learning something new.
I agree with you totally that we don't have a lot of choice of varieties in Zone 5. You may have more choices in zone 6. In Chicago, some winter is extremely cold and long, some winter is not as bad. Peaches rated zone 4 have much better chances of surviving here. Very few people grow peach trees except a peach-nut like me, against all the odds, want to challenge the weather to grow something that trace back childhood memories of how delicious naturally rip peach taste like... It is suppose melting into your mouth. you don't need teeth to bite into, just to suck on it. It is sooo soft, you need all your fingers to hold it up, otherwise, one finger will sink right into the flesh and break it. The juice is running both ways in and out of your mouth. If you eat in the public, you need to have a tissue ready to clean your mouth for every bite. Or if you eat alone, just let the juice runing down all over your mouth, dropping on your t-shirt, pant, then wipe your mouth clean with your sleeve and clean your hand on you own t-shirt when you are done. This is kind of peach I had and is what I am looking to grow.

Growing peach here is not economic decision. Peaches are cheap here in Chicago. In the season, we can buy Georgia peach, California peach, and Michigan peach for about 0.6-1.0/lb; off the season, we pay little bit over a dollar a pound. I was in SF area last summer and was surprised to find out that the peach price is much lower in Chiacgo than it is in California. But these are the store bought peach I am talking about, even marked " tree rip" peach is no comparison to the quality of real tree rip peaches, the flavor, texture, aroma, etc. Not everything can put a price tag on it.

I bought two peach trees from Stark Brothers in midwest. One is Reliance , another is Elberta. The Reliance I ordered a deluxe version of the tree, I paid extra and have it trimed before ship to me. They both are bare root, I have never had any problem with bare root trees. I planted them near the house. The Elberta grows well and branched last summer . It is blooming right now. But the Reliance only had few leaves right on its main trunk last summer, trimmed branches all died. I still do not see any leaves buds yet this year. Not sure it is alive or dead. I also planted a nectarine in my yard couple of years ago. It started flower last year, had one fruit but eventually dropped for the tree itself is too small to bare fruit. I see my nectarine has more flower buds this year. It seems to me, if it is not the quality issue of Stark Bro.'s peach tree stock, Reliance is a little difficult to grow.

Both you and Glib mentioned PF series. I have never heard of it ( I may just not know what the PF means) , but I will google it.

Again, Thanks all for your help.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 10:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have grown Reliance for 10 years now and have 3 trees of it. Yes the flavor does vary. One year it was exceptional
(5th year) and one year they had no sweetness at all and were good only for cooking. However, the other 8 years this same tree bore peaches that are soft yet quite tasty.
I never have any complaints from anyone who I give them to.
On the contrary, the beg for more! Here is S.E. WI we are
more limited on what varieties do well compared to more warmer climates.

My friend grows PF24C. It is a much firmer peach and extremely good flavor. I have not yet tried Contender but
hear a lot of good reports about it.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 11:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just got into fruit gardening, but I have been doing a little research on the varieties that will withstand my Madison, WI area winters (and spring frosts!) I finally settled on buying a McKay Peach tree from McKay nursery (Formerly known as a Wisconsin Balmer). The original tree was a seedling in Waterloo, WI, where it apparently flowers and bears fruit every year. On top of a windy hill, no less. Various sources describe the flavor as "excellent" though they also say the texture is firm. However, I believe it can only be purchased from McKay Nursery and Wallace-Woodstock, and they appear to be sold out for this season. Good luck with your peaches!

Here is a link that might be useful: Description of McKay peach on forums

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 12:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What you may find is that the Elberta frequently comes out too early in your spring and you won't get a consistent crop out of it.... It is still probably in significant danger of loosing everything if we lapse back into a "Normal" early spring weather pattern for a couple weeks...

That's the advantage of some of the varieties that were bred up in cold, horrible places with long winters... They stay dormant through these weird hot/cold/hot/cold springs - and only awaken once the danger of frost is pretty well passed... Blooming and leafing out LATE is a virtue in most places in the east... (Even down here - we seldom get Apricots.. maybe 1 of 4 years because of their early blooming and typical late freezes...)

So.. While that tree looks like it is sitting there, doing nothing.. It's still asleep... Remember that your yard would still be covered 2' deep in snow on a "Normal" year...


    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 4:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I went nuts and planted lots of fruit trees, I picked most of the peaches of Stark Brothers and one from Miller (Champion White). The Champion was wonderful. I was not impressed with the ones from Stark, but think this is because I seem to prefer the white ones.

I will be ordering Champion again, Redhaven (not an Elberta type), and Saturn (white - donut). All are freestone. I do not like Elbertas that much. I guess tastes change - I used to like Elbertas when we picked them from a local restaurant's orchard. I want more but will not have room.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 6:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

spartan-apple , thanks for sharing your personal experiences of growing Reliance and info. about PF24 , Contender. Appreciate it.

fruitmaven , thanks for intruducing new local variety. Please do post some information about its texture and taste when you harvest the peaches. This one grow locally will definitely survive the cold WI weather.
John, Good point. Totally agree with you that blooming and leafing out LATE is a virtue, especially in Chicago where weather chanegs a lot in spring time. We had later freeze in May last year! I wasn't thinking about blooming time when I first ordered my peach trees till fellow members here enlightened me recently.

carolkcmo_5 ,I never had major quality problem with Miller's products. I think guys at Miller's know what they are doing. I ordered an 3 in 1 Asian pear tree last year from them. boy, The tree is filled with white flowers right now! If the squirral doesn't get it. I might have some juicy Asian pear this summar. I was looking at the Champion White as well. The white varieties taste better in general but less cold hardy than the yellow ones. The donut shaped peach is cute to look at and it is just as good the taste. I had one when I was in China. I also bought some in local Grocery store in Chicago area, but the texture is very different. The one I bought here was soft but dry. Maybe that was just a bad batch of peaches that were stored too long. Saturn is less cold hardy, if you grow it in zone 5, you might have to prepare to cover it up somehow sometime during its life expectancy.

Peach trees here have fireblight issue too. My brother had a handsome peach tree, 2 types grafted in on one tree, about 5-6 feet tall. He kept it open centered. It was baring fruits for 4 years, just in it prime. But it all dead last year from fire blight. It is heart broken to see it's gone. Keeping this in mind, I am much lining on selecting diseases resistant variety as well.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 12:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
olpea(zone 6 KS)

"Peach trees here have fireblight issue too. My brother had a handsome peach tree, 2 types grafted in on one tree, about 5-6 feet tall. He kept it open centered. It was baring fruits for 4 years, just in it prime. But it all dead last year from fire blight. It is heart broken to see it's gone. Keeping this in mind, I am much lining on selecting diseases resistant variety as well."


Actually, peach trees don't get Fireblight.

Around here premature death usually occurs because of unfavorable soil conditions throughout the growing season. That, combined with leaf curl (which most homeowners don't spray for) leaves the tree stressed so that it dies fairly quickly.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 3:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Olpea, you are right on this. Peaches do not get fireblight. He never knew what killed his tree. There was no leaf curl problem on that tree.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 9:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
alan haigh

Madison is a high quality peach that works well in the cold. Its flowers also are a bit late and open gradually. It is extremely long lived for a peach and has been time tested. If you can't get hold of a McCay it might be worth a try. However, it ripens in late aug here in southeastern NY so I can't be sure your season is long enough.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 10:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

harvestman, Thanks for the recommendation. I will keep it in mind. Late Aug. in chicago is getting a little cool but it all depends which year. With crazy weather like this, and climate change, can't go by the rule of thumb any more.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 2:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
alan haigh

It does ripen a bit before Elberta.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 3:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I like "Polly" It is a white peach that certainly fits your taste requirements. It was developed in Iowa in the 20's. It should be a decent match for Chicago weather. Its medium sized. Unless it gets lots and lots of direct sunlight it can have a greenish tinge to it.

Mine was slow to start bearing, which I suspect is a characteristic of the fruit, but could have been happenstance. I got it on special order from BayLaurel nursery in Atascadero California.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 12:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

#1 red haven #2 reliant #3 bell of ga #4 contendor O that happens to be the order that they ripen. I have a few PF's that havent fruited yet so it might change. When the cherries are gone and the blueberries arn't quite ready it's hard to not squease a peach.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 10:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

kokopelli5a , ravenh2001 Thank you for your recommendation and sharing your experiences.ravenh2001 , do you grow these peach trees in zone 4? How often do you have decent harvest?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 10:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

yes in zone 4. In the last 6 years thinning has been a major chore. Plums and cotts planted the same time have yet to fruit.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 9:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
franktank232(z5 WI)

Reliance was excellent last summer. I've had them in the past and they've been so so.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 9:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My McKay peach tree arrived today, trucked directly from the nursery in Waterloo, WI. It's 7 feet tall with many (14!) branches. I'm very impressed, hopefully it settles in well and gets some growth this year. Perhaps I'll even get peaches next year!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 2:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

ravenh2001 , Red Heaven and Bell of Georgia are only hardy to zone 5. Usually, even in zone 5 here, we were recommended to grow trees one zone over to zone 4, so the trees can survive extreme cold temporature. Do you have the trees covered or do you do anything special to make trees surviving?? When you are talking about thinning, are you talking about thinning the branches or thinning the fruits?
Fruitmaven, it sounded like a pretty decent size tree! Let me know how the fruit taste like when it bears.
Franktank, Thanks for letting me know how reliance taste. My reliance planted last summer is dead . I need to talk to Stark bro. to get replacement. The fruit taste might also depends on the weather/rain/temp. But reliance is very cold hardy peach tree.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 3:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

the thinning is thinning the fruit.
When I planted the trees I had never herd of gw, zones, root stock or drainage. I ordered from "Treesdirectonline .com" 100 trees at 3.95 each and free shipping. I got what I ordered I think, 2'wipps with fist size roots. I planted them in a field that was just to rocky to plow. As a preschooler in fruit I did no soil test, did not fertilize, no water and no vole wraps. I am in 8TH grade in fruit now and know everything (like any 8TH grader). The only thing I am 100% sure of is that when you step through the wires of an electric fence the pruner in your back pocket will reach out and grab the upper wire.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 8:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Guys please tell something you know about Diamond Peach tree. it is maybe about 3 years old, produces well but racoons brake branches and nothing left for me.
here in Ontario we have no rights to trap racoons.
my Diamond did blossom very well this year but I do not know will it be OK since we have no rights to buy and/or spray fruit trees with right Fruit Tree Sprays (like Wilson Spray)
Thank you all

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 8:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bennylafleur(6 E. Tn.)

I have the most amazing peach tree, an Elberta that ripens before any of my other peaches. Since it came from Wal-Mart I'm sure there is no chance of it being mis- labeled.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 7:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

ravenh, glad to hear that your peach trees are producing well for you.

radovan, I Don't know what is best solution to solve the racoon problem besides to get a dog or get a gun if trapping is not a option. hope someone in this forum has better idea.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 10:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You may want to double check live trapping and relocating nuisance animals... Most of the time when they talk about "Trapping" - they are talking about fur trapping.... which involves killing the animal...

Perhaps another option would be to contact the local animal control officer....

The last option would be to put a little fence around it.. Maybe find yourself an Ebay electric fence wire... Set it up to keep said varmints out..

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 3:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

RedHaven was and still is nice, but there is no comparison to Flaming Fury (PF series) and I think they are hardier too.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 7:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with kokopelli, check out the Polly white peach. I planted one last summer. Our winter was extremely mild, and a number of blossoms are opening now. From what I've heard, the flavor is suppose to be excellent. I've never tasted a fresh off the tree peach before. I'm hoping that changes with this tree.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 10:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
olpea(zone 6 KS)


I prefer Redhaven to the PF series peaches I grow, in terms of eating quality.

I think the eating quality of Redhaven must vary with location because some of the Northeastern folks on this forum say it's just an average peach in their locale. Here it's consistently very very good.

Perhaps the difference here is that it always ripens in the hot dry part of the season (middle to end of July). Maybe it likes hot dry weather more than other peaches to produce a high quality peach.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 10:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

I have 3 varieties of the PF(Paul Friday) peach trees, PF13,PF 27, and PF24C. Google Paul Friday and you'll find detailed info on the different varieties. Of the 3 that I have the PF24C was the best overall peach.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 10:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
antlers(IL Zone 5)

Olympia, I live and garden in a southwest suburb of Chicago. I have three dwarf RedHaven trees all in their third leaf this year. I purchased them in southwest Michigan where they, and the Paul Friday varieties, were developed. So far they have proven to be cold hardy and, IMO, unparallelled in taste. I have included some pictures taken early August of last year. All these peaches were harvested before the first of September so no danger of frosts. Every one that I ate was so good it caused me to tear up a bit and then lick my elbows to get every last drop of juice.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 4:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow, great pictures! Now I wish I had room for three types of peach trees! (The McKay I have, the white fleshed Polly, and Redhaven.) Do you have a problem keeping the frosts off them in the spring?)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 7:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
antlers(IL Zone 5)

My peach trees are loaded with hundreds of tiny dime-sized peaches right now. Last year at this time these same trees were at popcorn stage. This year they were in full bloom on March 21st due to an unusually warm March. We have had several hard frosts since then but only one night below freezing (briefly). They are not in a sheltered location so I have been lucky. Last danger of freeze in this area is May 15th so right now we are out there at risk of losing it all.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 11:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Doesn't anyone like Babcock Peaches any more? They are white fleshed, super sweet and are rated for Zone 5. We have two trees that consistently produce great fruit.

They are prone to Brown Rot and PLC, but otherwise are fairly easy to grow.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 4:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hello All,
Enjoyed all the information on peaches.
Radovan, I solved the disapearing plums by raccons by buying some stove pipe and putting it two sections high around my trees trunk. Now the coons only get what falls or I toss to the ground for them! It took years before I saw who was getting the plums, since I would think they should ripen just a little more and then they would be gone. :-) Hope this helps!
Hope everyones Spring is fantastic! Pixie :-)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 12:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The McKay peach seems to be prone to bacterial spot. It had lesions on the trunk in spring 2012 and I had to cut it back to about 4' high. Last summer, every leaf developed terrible shot-holes, turned red, and eventually fell off. I sprayed copper while it was dormant this spring, and haven't seen any signs of disease so far. It just leafed out and bloomed at the same time as my apple trees (it's on the north side of my house, and was covered 3.5' deep in snow all winter). The weaker growth was killed by the drying winter winds, but flower buds survived on the remaining branch. Our winter low was only -10 F, though.

I'm worried about this wet spring. I should have planted it in a 6' wide, 1' tall mound (or raised bed) since I have clay loam soil. I'm seriously considering digging it up and replanting it, perhaps this fall.

The McKay peach is from WI, but from an hour north of Madison, WI. They've got sandy soil, and we have clay. I hope it pulls through the summer!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 9:43PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
KNNN espalier planting
Hi - I just planted some 1 year bare root apple trees....
Jamie Cartwright
Can I store apple rootstock in the fridge?
I'll be getting a couple apple rootstocks the first...
Blueberries on a slope, how to grade soil?
Hey everyone, I was planting blueberries on a sloped...
My Spupreme plum turns into Alderman!
At Plant Hill Nursery! They don't have a email address,...
Blueberry leaves turning brown
The leaves of one of my southern highbush (Snowchaser...
Sponsored Products
Lilac Twin Geometric Duvet Cover
$149.00 | Bellacor
Brass Lamps: Harriet 28 in. Antique Brass Table Lamp 32201AB
Home Depot
Acclaim Lighting Pendants & Hanging Fixtures Brynmawr Collection Hanging
$63.98 | Home Depot
Rizzy Home White Embroidered Artistic Stripe Decorative Accent Pillow - PILT0597
$32.00 | Hayneedle
Nourison Graphic Illusions Circular Teal Rug (5'3 x 7'5)
Ambella Home Collection - Ball and Claw Sink Chest - 08101-110-328
Great Furniture Deal
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™