I was hoping I could get some taste comparisons of the hardier peaches such as ranger, flaming fury 24c, madison, and mckay. Does anyone grow these? How would you describe their taste, texture, juciness, and size?
Madison can be a high quality peach (flavor of peaches seems to me to improve in lighter soils and/or summer drought ). FF peaches tend to have lots of red color so they are more attractive to birds and other wildlife (may not matter as any peach is attractive enough) and I doubt 24C is a noticeable taste improvement on Madison flavor-wise.
What you won't find in the literature is that Madison and a lot of the older varieties are long lived peach trees that keep sending out new shoots from old wood. I have a beautiful 25 year old Madison that has no dead spots along any of the scaffolds and produces vigorous new shoots all along the scaffolds as well as it did 20 years ago. If you research it you will probably find that estimated productive like of peach trees in the northeast (my region) is about 15 years.
Madison also has an extended blooming and harvest period protecting the tree from frosts and extending the harvest.
I have PF24-C but not Ranger, Madison or McKay. I felt it was okay but not an O'Henry by any means. I just braved the latest snow storm to go and have a look at my peaches. The wind was really whipping a few days ago and all the buds that had frozen a week ago were blown off.
The PF24-C looks as if all the buds were frozen, but the O'Henry and the Silver Logan, which are supposedly zone 6 peaches, have a few nice looking buds on them. I also see a few left on the Saturn and the Garnet Beauty.
Obviously this isn't scientific and I will have to wait and see what happens now, as we are having another winter storm. (The question now becomes how, long a duration can the buds handle the cold)
I guess what I'm getting at is that the PF24-C hasn't proven to be outstanding in terms of bud hardiness. It's a good peach, but it doesn't knock my socks off.