Peaches in Iowa

mark_roeder(4B IA)August 14, 2013

Friends, I am happy to say after a year with no peaches, we now have peaches here in Iowa.

The attached was taken 8/10/2013; the date stamp on the photo is wrong.

Last year, no peaches. We had a late freeze and the peaches that remained after the blossoms froze were all eaten by infestations of Japanese beetles. I was afraid because of the beetles I would never have a tree-ripened Iowa peach again.

This year I have done more to control the beetles. I violated rules on peach growing, as I did not properly prune, and while I thinned hundreds of peaches I did not sufficiently thin them. Most of my fruit are small, but they are fairly good and I must have nearly 400 peaches on Reliance and another tree (Contender) with 100 that should be ripe in a few weeks. My tree loaded with 400 peaches is sagging to the ground but I will trim it up for next year, and my hopes are high.

If you have never tasted tree-ripened peaches you are missing out on one of life's best experiences.

How are the rest of you doing with peaches?

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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Congrats on your peach harvest! I am envious. Of my 12 peach trees I noticed I have one single Silver Logan and that's it. Frozen buds that never bloomed, and 6" of snow after Mother's Day. I hope to have a bumper crop next year like your this year.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 1:53AM
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hannah9880(5b)

Congratulations, Mark. Like milehighgirl we had budded peaches and nectarines that did not bloom. We had light frost the morning after Mother's Day here in western Michigan, but I think the buds were killed before that. According to our extension reports, some peach orchards in eastern Michigan had no fruits.

Last winter was perfect, no zero weather, good snow cover. But my research suggests that the drop in temps in April from 40 degrees to 20 degrees (April 21) could be the problem. I posed a question here but received no answers. So I'm thinking peaches may be vulnerable at first bud swell, but I'm not sure when that happened this year--I was so confident it was a go for peaches this year after the disaster of 2012--and didn't note it. I will in the future. My beloved and reliable Hale Haven has two peaches in the center of the tree. That's it.

So I'm happy for you! Maybe next year I'll be happy for me.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 8:10AM
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ahgrower Horne

Your tree is beautiful and bountiful. Hats off to you!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 8:18AM
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lkz5ia

My last peach year was 2008, since then the weather has found a way to screw it up until this year 2013. Unlike 2008, in 2013 I have clouds of fruit flies. Because of this forum, I have found out that there is a spotted invader among us.

The peaches can't stay on the trees as long as they should because of this. I think to a certain degree the quality is a little less now than was in 2008. I think drought maybe is affecting things too. I think I had a good population of these fruit flies last year for sure, not sure about the year before that. But I noticed clouds of them on blackberries last year, just didn't know this asian pest even existed yet though.

But overall this is my best fruit year since 2008, apricot produced over 100 pounds, now its done after about a month of harvesting and the peaches are cranking out the fruit, close to 100 pounds of that already.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 9:03AM
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mrsg47(7)

2012 was a peach year for me, this year like Milehigh, I have one single 'Elberta' that I am guarding with my life. You are so right the taste lingers for minutes not seconds after you taste a fresh peach off of the tree. This is the reason I now have five peach trees instead of one lonely 'Elberta' tree! Congrats on the beautiful peaches. I see jam in your future. Maybe next year for me! Mrs. G

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 9:59AM
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olympia_gardener(5)

WOW. The tree is loaded. Congrats.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 11:37AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Mark-

I hear you on the thinning...i did really good with my Alderman, but the Superior plum is really straining out there (I use 2x4's to brace it)... My Reliance tree got robbed by the squirrels and then i cut it down (its right by a power pole that the squirrels use like a highway). I'll be interested in seeing how your Reliance compares to the Contender. Good luck with all that fruit, do you make jam/sell them???

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 11:50AM
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iowajer

Very nice! Gives me hope for the future too!!!!

Even though I didn't have enough to warrant thinning, I fear I may have problems in that regard going forward....

After reading a thread on here recently about summer pruning, I was very concerned that my trees (In ground 2011) would get out of hand if I didn't do something. So I made a few cuts (after the 13 peaches were already picked of course) to hopefully slow that down, and open up the center even more. And I'll do some more winter pruning I think as well.

But wow, your peaches look real nice and pretty in the tree!

Congrats on that bumper crop!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 6:26PM
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mark_roeder(4B IA)

Friends, It is not the prettiest peach tree due to my negligence in noto pruning, and thinning, and with top branches going down to the ground. Next year will be better :)

Franktank, I have not made jam, but will. Peach/Blueberry pie. Jello+peaches for my 18 year old daughter is a hit. We have juiced some.

My goal would be to sell them someday, but probably not this year. Still thinking on that one. I am giving away a lot to neighbors, secretary, and associates. When Contender ripens I have another 100.

I have had excellent feedback from those I have gifted to. If I had properly thinned, I would sell them, but while the quality is outstanding to those who have not had a tree-ripened peach, the quality of these is not as good as I would like to justify selling them. Contender was better thinned so maybe then I can sell a few when they come in.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 2:25AM
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Dan.NY

I also am having a good peach year. I did not thin enough either apparently. 2 weeks ago I harvested a few unripe large walnut sized peaches from my reliance tree. I return to the farm this weekend and have high hopes. Though I am worried squirrels may have gotten them. Last year my blossoms survived 3 inches of snow but I did not thin anywhere near enough and had tiny hard peaches. At least this year I have some..

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 3:20PM
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lkz5ia

I could have thinned too

nice looking peach that I picked out of the tree

other side of that peach, reason I can't ripen them fully in tree.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 6:01PM
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mark_roeder(4B IA)

What happened to your peach?

Here is today's harvest (The picture has wrong date stamp). There are plenty more peaches where these came from.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 11:54PM
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camp10

I have a single Reliant tree. We harvested about 80 peaches out of it this year.

It's been planted 5 years. Two years ago, it produced a single peach. Last year, three peaches. So, this years crop was quite a surprise.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 8:48AM
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mark_roeder(4B IA)

Somehow this must be a good year for peaches. Who knows how it works. I am so thankful for the crop we had this year. I agree with the other analysis that it may not be as high quality, but that could be my fault for not thinning after the top branches curled down to my level. --- Oh, and yes I have fruit flies too. They don't do noticeable damage to the fruit;they are pesky when we bring the peaches inside.

hannah9880, milehighgirl: It is unfortunate you are zeroed out. Western Michigan and Colorado are usually reliable peach producing areas, aren't they?

I have good produce in my tiny 10' x 20' garden too. Lots of beans, great sweet corn (all harvested), the best tomatoes we ever had, and a few more things about to come such as melons, and peppers. My early December crop of brussel sprouts look like the best ones I have grown. Our winter and spring were wet but after about July 1, I remember only one decent rainfall.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 12:26AM
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camp10

I have a single Reliant tree. We harvested about 80 peaches out of it this year.

It's been planted 5 years. Two years ago, it produced a single peach. Last year, three peaches. So, this years crop was quite a surprise.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 10:34PM
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lkz5ia

350+ lbs so far, still cranking them out, ate my first belle of georgia today too. Wasn't sure until today whether the graft was still alive since it died close to the ground.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 11:03PM
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mark_roeder(4B IA)

My second peach tree ripened. This one is Contender.

Contender has fewer, but larger fruit than my 6th year Reliance. This is the third year for Contender in my yard; first year it bears fruit. It has about 100 fruit on it. Its fruit are firmer than Reliance, and a bit different taste than Reliance.

I had many compliments from friends and family on the Reliance fruit this year. I did not thin the fruit enough, and while the fruit was good, it was generally small and eating fresh peaches were not as good eating fresh Reliance peaches in past years. From the comments I heard they were still better than store bought peaches. I found that they were great in pies, cakes, and smoothies.

The desire to grow peaches in Iowa, something I did not think possible, started when I tasted by first fresh peach in Alabama about 33 years ago. It was the best fruit I ever tasted, and I wanted to duplicate it here.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 11:34PM
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mark_roeder(4B IA)

lkz5ia,

How was it you decided to try growing peaches in Iowa? What type of trees do you have, and how many?

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 11:38PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

mark_roeder,

Yes, Colorado's Western slope grows the best peaches IMHO. A perfect blend of hot, arid days and cool nights. It's the only zone 6 in Colorado. But alas, the crop is very light this year.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 12:31AM
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jas4141(Zone 5)

A bumper crop of Belle of Goergia peaches this year in central Illinois. Last year was a bust with freeze coming after setting on fruit so I'm delighted with this year's crop. Since this is a young tree, we're planning on pruning it to, hopefully, strengthen it and top it some. Our peaches were large which I think was due to watering during the last month since MN neglected her job. Plentiful rain early in the season added to much of the success, I'm sure. Anyway, canning is in full gear right now.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 9:03AM
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lkz5ia

My parents have grown peach trees every since I remember, crops are hit and miss here though, but worth it in the on years. The ones producing this year are
Intrepid
Reliance
Red Haven
Loring
Belle of Georgia

Plus TruGold and Crimson Gold Nectarine set fruit for the first time, though minimally and dropping, so probably not try it this year.

Also I have seedling peaches that produce around early September, and have 13 of them with fruit and 5 without fruit.

Other ones that did not fruit were a couple lovell rootstocks and flat wonderful and yumyum nectarine( though graft may have failed on that one).

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 10:01AM
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mark_roeder(4B IA)

lkz58a:

You must have a horde of peaches this year. What about an off year like 2012? Did you have any? Most of mine froze at flower bud level and the few left were eaten by Japanese beetles in 2012.

With this many trees, do you market your peaches? If so, how so?

And how do you preserve them for off-season consumption?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 2:49AM
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lkz5ia

I think I had 3 peaches in 2012, most years are miss, some are beyond great like this year. Don't sell it, but use it. This year drying and freezing it. I guess canning would be good, too, but doing only first two.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 10:56PM
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