Reliance cold hardiness measure

MichaelJune 11, 2014

I've read that Reliance isn't all that cold hardy but my tree survived with excellent results this last Winter when we had 6 nights of temps. in the -10 to -12 range and another several in the minus single digits range. My Redhaven lost all of it's fruit buds to the cold while Reliance's fruit buds survived unscathed. It wouldn't have bothered me if some of those buds didn't make it because I had tons of fruit to thin on that 8th leaf tree, lot's of work! I imagine other peach varieties would have done well here last Winter and some may be even hardier but please, enough of the poo - pooing.

Go on poo - poo the flavor, texture, size or something else to your personal liking, this is one very productive tree for my area year after year and produces many gallons of delicious nectar for me to drink every morning for the entire off season. Hopefully, The 3rd leaf Redhaven will survive next year's Winter so I have something to compare fruit with aside from the stuff I remember that came from the Palisades area of western CO when I was young, yummy stuff:)

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Michael357: After tasting my only homegrown peach last year (the "mystery" peach that turned out to be Earlitreat) I was hooked. But of course they were sent to me in error, so they're a zone 6. I'll still leave 'em there in case they ever make another peach, because man were they good!

But of course after this past winter all I have are very healthy looking shade trees!

So I wanted to plant a cold hardy tree this year, and kept getting so darn many conflicting reports. I read so much stuff on Contender and Reliance that and my head was swimming and I couldn't decide. (Hardy/not so much, tasty/not at all etc)

Well, I finally went with Redhaven after seeing it was developed I wanna say in Michigan. (maybe UM or MSU)

And now I'm second guessing that!!!

After reading about the loads of peaches you've got and all that jazz, I may have to plunk a Reliance in just in case my RH's don't make a peach.

Man that bounty sounds good!! Drinking the fruits of your labor all throughout the off season!!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 11:08PM
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Lowajer: I know what you mean about the conflicting reports, good luck with that. I planted the Redhaven partly on Olpea's recommendation being that he is in a similar growing region as I am and he has a lot more experience than I growing peaches, perhaps he'll weigh in.

The leaf buds on Redhaven survived just fine, could have been worse.

I am certain of the temperature data as it comes from a friend who is a NWS observer for here and his sensing equipment is very near to my trees.

Best of luck with your horticultural endeavors!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 11:29AM
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jethro75(Z 5 N Central PA)

I have both reliance and contender. Last year is the first I had peaches and they had a lot. This year they were loaded again and I had to thin the fruit very hard. We had temps down into -20s and it didnâÂÂt seem to affect either tree. I can honestly say that these are the only tree ripen peaches I ever ate and everyone that I gave them too including myself said they were the best peaches they ever ate. I cannot imagine what a good eating peach taste like if these are fair! I would think that a tree ripened Contender or Reliance would be better than no peaches at all.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:34PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Redhaven ended up having some crop here Contender had more of a crop and needed thinned in a few places. PF7a had a full crop. Carolina Gold needed a little thinning.

Initially I didn't think these trees would have that many peaches, but the trees kept blooming slowly, which added a little more fruit.
Nevertheless, there were plenty of varieties which were a complete bust this year.

I think if a person has the room, it's a good idea to add some cold hardy varieties along with others, for some insurance in marginal winters like this last one. Next spring I plan to add Challenger and Intrepid. One nice thing about the cold hardy varieties is that they do tend to bloom a tad later (if only by a few days) which could help a bit against spring frosts.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 11:44PM
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Since you threw out the challenge, I would take 3 years of Red Haven over 4 years of Reliance. I am near Omaha NE and my Encore needed heavily thinned.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 3:39PM
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alan haigh

It is interesting how experiences can contrast and contradict each other. There's more to cold than lowest temp of the season, I'm sure. I managed Reliance here for 15 years and on the 2 years there were no peaches there were no peaches on anything, including Reliance. Years with peaches, even the most cold tender varieties, like Loring, are consistently overloaded.

One year that Reliance bears and Redhaven doesn't may or may not mean much. It's possible that it won't happen again in your lifetime..

As far as lowest temps, I didn't consider this winter threatening at all as it never got below -10 or so here. However, it way over thinned a few of my peaches and most of my nectarines. Other winters in the past that got to -15 hurt none of these.

I've always read that it's about how hardened off trees are when cold comes, but this winter came on gradually and had no thaws to reduce hardiness. Too bad there isn't an instrument you can use to measure the exact time of bud death- it might answer some questions.

To me, the best Reliance peaches taste just a step or two down from the best- I love all the red in its flesh. However, they are pretty soft when ripe and the lesser peaches on the tree aren't very good. I'm sure careful management could assure that most peaches were well lit and of the highest quality the tree can produce. I'm also certain the quality varies from region to region.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 4:28PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


There is an instrument that can record when a peach bud dies. They use it in laboratory studies of fruit flower bud hardiness. Basically when an individual bud freezes it happens all at once. Until the bud freezes it is OK. They measure the small pulse of heat that indicates the moment of freezing. Ice gives off heat on freezing and one has to add back that same amount of heat to thaw ice.

Concerning Reliance fruit quality, there was a tree planted feet from my greenhouse when I moved here spring 2004. It cropped 2004 and 2005. I got the first greenhouse fruit 2005 so had a direct comparison. If the northern growers like Reliance they'd love real fruit. Reliance is small, soft, and bland; at least mine were. Get a greenhouse. I wasn't able to grow great fruit until I did either. My greenhouse nectarines and plenty else are light yrs better than Reliance.

In Amarillo coldest in 30 yrs was -12F. My best peaches were Surecrop, Redglobe, and Redskin. They were chosen for a degree or two of extra spring bud hardiness. But they are way better than Reliance IME. I also grew many of the peaches recommended by Texas Aggie hort but it's difficult to form a sound opinion when they crop every second, third, or fourth year.

In Amarillo my best fruit was the apples. Now my best fruit by far is the greenhouse stone fruit and I taste it every year so can form a solid opinion not just "lets makeup honey" fireworks, if you get my drift.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 5:12PM
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alan haigh

Reliance here is capable of producing peaches almost the size of soft balls if you thin well. Size isn't a problem for it here as it is similar to Red Haven in this regard.

As I've often written in response to your reports of super high brix fruit- it is all relative. The best around is the best and ones palate is adaptable and can easily become jaded.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 8:31PM
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I suppose if both of my trees were the same age it would be a fairer cold hardiness comparison, Redhaven is 3rd leaf and Reliance is 7th or 8th. Could that be a contributing factor? The trees are both in unshaded locations within 100' of each other. Both trees have been Spring pruned only.

I concur with H-man on size for Reliance, that tree produces big beauties but I haven't got any softballs yet. The fruit sure stretch sockies to their limit:)

No doubt like other things, location is critical, soil and climate. The last 2 years here were severe drought and I never irrigated the Reliance, it did as well as 3 years prior to that which was a wet one for us like this one so far.

Management has got to have a big influence on fruit size, quality and quantity I.E. irrigation, fertilization, pest control, training, pruning and fruit thinning. And then there is genetics.

CCKW: no challenge intended, I've just read enough about Reliance being a loser it seemed appropriate to report some factual observations based on numbers for others to benefit from. Speaking of numbers, if I remember this harvest time I'll get some brix numbers for those interested, nothing like quantifying the subjective. Too bad you had a tree that wasn't to your liking, I find it difficult to remove any tree from my orchard like that 7th leaf Northern Spy that has yet to put on a single blossom. N Spy may be firewood by this time next year if it doesn't get it's act together.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 12:20AM
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alan haigh

Don't give up on the N. Spy- it will teach you a lot about managing wood for fruit and then the fruit will come. I've learned more from that one variety than any other on coaxing fruit from a vegetative tree. If you are impatient, just take an upright water sprout just above your first tier of scaffolds and graft something that bears young to be your second and third tiers (or use a third variety for the 3rd tier).

Meanwhile, you can try scoring- either the whole tree, an individual branch or the point of the tree above the first tier (if you graft, try only an individual scaffold so graft isn't slowed, or better, score above the graft). You can also try festooning branches on top of the tree to below horizontal. These methods coax the tree to form flowers that open and bear fruit the following year.

Those things need to be done during bloom (of other apples, obviously). For now you can remove any oversized branches (more than a third the diameter of the trunk at point of attachment) if it doesn't completely disfigure the tree. Also remove oversized secondary branches and most vigorous annual uprights.

For your climate, N. Spy is a very good late apple that crops fairly reilably once it reaches maturity. It requires a lot less patience and creates a good, free-standing tree on M26. It is one variety that never gets wobbly on M7 (barring pine voles).

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 5:39AM
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