East Coast vs West Coast peaches

persianmd2orchardOctober 23, 2011

Hi everyone, I've learned tons from this site and thank you all for the information.

My specific question is about two peach varieties. The Baby Crawford peach and Rio Oso Gem peach are very highly recommended to me by multiple West coast sources. These both seem to fulfill the chill requirement for where I am in Virginia, and it sounds like some people in my area are indeed growing them.

However, I have not heard many East Coast reports that these fruits are to die for in flavor out here. I am beginning to suspect these fruits do super well say in Santa Clara but for whatever reason they are fine but don't become anything special on average out here in the East, with the exception of this one report by scottfsmith on two other Crawfords and the Rio Oso: http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/fruit/msg091626021808.html

I ask because I'm thinking of omitting these two varieties from my plans.

Thanks a lot.

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I doubt you are going to find anyone with real firsthand experience growing these varieties on both the east and west coast. Even then growing conditions in both places will have a huge impact on the outcome. If I were in VA, I'd listen to Scott and not much else. Even then your site, growing methods, and taste preferences might yield different results. But Scott can weed out a huge number of weaklings for various causes. JMO

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 10:19AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I found both of these got bacterial spot quite badly, in fact they were the original source of an infection that took over my whole orchard. That said, once the trees got established and I beat back the spot they have been OK on that front. Peach trees are susceptible to spot when they are under stress from e.g. transplanting, but its not usually that hard to control on mature trees if you are willing to spray. The major problem I have had with California peaches on the east is brown rot, for example Silver Logan rots like crazy. Neither Rio Oso Gem or Baby Crawford has been rotting badly. I have never in fact managed to eat a Baby Crawford, the original tree eventually died from the bacterial spot that hit it so badly and the replacement is only starting to fruit and the squirrels helped themselves to all the fruits this year. I have eaten Baby Crawfords at Andy Mariani's orchard and I have also had Rio Oso from my orchard and both are very good peaches. If you can find it I would instead get a Winblo, it is somewhat tastier and is highly disease resistant. Early Crawford is not very productive but otherwise it is excellent.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 10:31AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Flavor is generally not the big concern when trying to grow West Coast peaches in the East. Excessive rain can affect the flavor of peaches, but the bigger concern is disease that it causes.

I agree with Fruitnut, you best advice in the area is going to be Scott Smith. I suspect VA may be a little tougher to grow peaches than MD, but Scott's advice should give you a good ball park.

I have a Baby Crawford based on Scott's praise of Crawford type peaches. Just planted it last Spring.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 10:34AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


You snuck in ahead of me with your post.

After reading your post, wanted to ask if your new Baby Crawford has had the same bac. spot problems as the previous one?

Are you spraying for it?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 10:43AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Olpea, the variety is clearly susceptible, but with spraying I have found that it has done OK. It is something like Indian Free when it comes to spot.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 12:43PM
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alan haigh

PMD you failed to mention intent here. For your hand and table or are you planning on selling fruit? In any case, I certainly wouldn't limit my info source to Scott and, in fact, I'd try to get all the info I could from anyone growing peaches in the humid region.

I've been growing all kinds of fruit on many, many sites in southeastern NY, full time, for over 20 years, but I am not even close to being the last word on best varieties for my area. If it had been only one site and mostly using only organic methods, as Scott has, even less so, although Scott is exceptionally astute, IMO. He's certainly influenced selections I've made for my own orchard.

That said, I can't personally offer any advice on those varieties. Scott, how would you compare Rio Oso Gem to Encore or Autumn Glo? Has anyone here harvested Autumn Star yet?

I believe these are 3 that ripen with Rio that are much more commonly grown in NJ and the rest of the East coast and are specifically bred for the task.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 2:01PM
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Thanks everyone. Scott it sounds like I should really value your advice :). I come from a family of orchardists/horticulturalists in Iran. Lots of tasty fruit there... I've worked on their orchards but this is my first time in life I have the time and a bit of space to start my own project.

Since I'm already going to be growing some fairly disease resistant varieties (Q-1-8, Indian Free...), I was thinking of taking a stab at some harder to grow California peaches IF they were going to be worth it for the flavor, but it sounds like I don't have to sacrifice disease susceptibility for taste with the Winblo and Carolina Gold. If anything sounds like they'll taste better. I do have to say I like a bit of tart in my peaches over a straight through sweet taste (I'm definitely partial to yellow flesh varieties and even among yellow, tangier ones).

Assuming I can find some of these varieties in the first place, what are your overall thoughts (on flavor, crop size, disease susceptibility, anything of note) Steve on choosing between these: (in descending order of current interest) to add to my list in place of the California peaches:

Winblo, Carolina Gold, regular old Redhaven, Clayton, and Ernie's Choice.

I've had some trouble finding out the seasons for these, sounds like Winblo has its season ~2 weeks after Redhaven, and Carolina Gold ~2 weeks after Winblo, and Clayton's earlier than Redhaven. I don't really trust anything earlier than Redhaven for taste though.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 2:12PM
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Sorry to not make clear the intention- this is for fresh eating personal use as I now have time to make an orchard to finally avoid the taste of grocery store fruit.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 2:56PM
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alan haigh

I don't grow fruit for money although my harvest is used to entice customers to buy trees from my nursery and to provide gifts for customers at times they may not have what they want from their own trees. Exceptional quality is very important to me.

Although early peaches well before Redhaven may not be as high quality as later they are still well worth growing if your point is to have superior fruit to what you can purchase. I enjoy my Harrow Diamonds just as much as later peaches just because they are the first really good peaches of the season for me. They also have uncommonly high acid for a peach.

Some of the early sports of Redhaven are almost as good as Redhaven such as Summer Serenade or Garnett Beauty.

Earnie's Choice is a very good peach, but not unusual in the way Scott describes some of his favorites.

I really think you should consider growing at least a couple of the peento peaches that have been bred at Rutgers. Although Scott doesn't find Sweet TangO all that interesting he does consider a good peach. I think it is a great peach in that it's texture is unique, it's sugar extremely high and it tastes plenty peachy. I suspect it may be THE world class culinary peach just because of its exceptional firmness. It also has a beautiful orange color that runs from the skin all the way to the pit. Not yellow- fully orange. Got to be high in the carotene/vitamin A scale.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 4:07PM
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Harrow Diamond sounds up my alley with its acidity you are describing. I already have some white peaches with Q18 and kind of a white peach with Indian Free. I'm not sure if I want a peento peach- I don't usually enjoy acidless fruit too much, except for sweet lime, sweet lemon, limetta... but those are citrus all citrus is good :).

Winblo and Redhaven seem similarly excellent and in the same ball park of disease resistance, with Winblo coming in ~2 weeks later. I'll probably have to pick 1 from these two- do people really think Winblo blows Redhaven out of the water in terms of flavor??? Redhaven seems to polarize people into "eh it's not that great, it's ordinary" to "it's the standard for a reason." I bet it's mainly regional differences with growing them and luck of the draw as to which was hit with more rain that year while ripening...

If anyone has any thoughts on Redhaven vs Winblo though let me know. Thanks to everyone thus far, very insightful posts.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 6:08PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

PersianMD, you'll have to tell us some stories about fruit from Iran. Iran has been one of the primary sources of advancement of fruit varieties; I have been trying to find one of the Iranian apricots that does well for me. So far Zard is the most tasty but not super reliable; Shekar Pareh is the most reliable but not as tasty.

I am a big fan of Carolina Gold, Clayton, and Winblo, but they may be hard to find. Ernies Choice is down a notch, its good but not great. Gold Dust is a wonderful early peach, its a winner from California.

Hman, I can't compare so well to the standard varieties, I tried a few early on and they were all exceedingly average so I stopped growing them. I do like TangOs a lot, yes the flavor is not quite as peachy as some others but the "whole package" (looks, growability, sweetness, etc) is very good indeed. I confess I do feel that the modern fruit breeders in the US are somewhat clueless when it comes to flavor. A recent example is how Cornell is trying to breed the tannins out of Damson type plums -- the whole point of Damsons is how those tannins mellow into a rich-flavored jam. I have recently been reading the modern "Fruit Breeding" book series and in the apples section they state that the goal is a good mix of sweet and tart and breeders should forget about anything else. Sigh.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 6:23PM
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alan haigh

Scott, the thing is that your approach seems different than mine even beyond taste issues. Often I hear you talking about the quality of a peach you like where it's about a few peaches in a tree- I want a few bushels. I think sparse crops can alter the perception of the fruit. I want to hear the evaluations based on a glut.

You are a coneseur drawn to unusual flavors while I often love a nice sweet juicy peach with a great texture as much as I could love anything. I sometimes wonder if the modern varieties were the antique ones and the antiques were the ones common now which you'd prefer. My only experience with the antiques was years ago, as I've said, where I was managing about 20 different heirloom types and none of them seemed all that to me. I've never had a white peach that I found totally appealing.

Still, I haven't had nearly as much experience with the heirlooms as you have so I can't really speak knowledgeably about this, but you are the only fruit enthusiast I know of that so broadly rejects the newer peach varieties- east or west.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 6:45PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Hman, I'm not going to get a glut on anything with 2' spacing. I get maybe 2-3 dozen peaches on my average mature tree. I think thats enough for a good sample. Some preliminary evaluations are on only a couple fruits and I agree thats not always accurate. Additionally, several seasons are needed to see what it averages out to.

If you go out to California there are plenty of old fashioned peach fans including Andy Mariani, Todd Kennedy, David Karp, and others. And there are also some excellent modern peaches including the three Carolina ones I mentioned above. I would add Yukon King to the list of excellent modern varieties; too bad it rots so bad. I bet your opinion on white peaches would change if you had a good Yukon King, Carman, or Silver Logan.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 7:05PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"Has anyone here harvested Autumn Star yet?"

I grow Autumnstar and very much like the peach. It is similar to O'Henry, but O'Henry is just a tad better.

I've found the best peaches are generally mid to late season. I'm not saying there aren't anomalies out there (perhaps Harrow Diamond is one) but generally if you hold the early season peaches to the same standard as later ones, you will be somewhat disappointed.

As mentioned, the best part about an early peach is that it's early. If it's been 9 months since you've eaten a fresh peach, a decent early peach tastes pretty good, even if it's not the best.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 7:32PM
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scott and harvest man
I have a 3 year old to rent out for taste testing. She is a grand daughter in need of good work. If she takes a bite and spit's it out we keep walking If she sit's and polishes the pit we pick. I hope her 11 mo old sister will follow if she drops out.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 7:56PM
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alan haigh

Olpea, I never can taste an early to a mid side by side and it really doesn't matter that they keep getting better as you get towards the middle of the season- my point is that anyone that enjoys tree-ripened peaches should be picking from the earliest to the latest possible time. It isn't what is the best tasting peach of all but what is the best at any given point of the season.

Scott, I wasn't saying that there are no heirloom peach enthusiasts but just that it's interesting that they are so much less common than fans of antique apples. I guess I can only speculate until I try some more antique peaches again.

I really need to develop grafting skill for peaches because I just can't stand the thought of spending $40 for each experiment. I also am reluctant to invest the space, as I'm not interested in the sardine spacing method (especially at $40 a pop). I'd like to have several varieties on one tree.

In NY there's a real movement at green markets for apple growers to provide antique apples- why do you suppose this hasn't spread to peaches?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 9:38PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Hman, apples these days are the most variety-focused fruit. Stores often don't even label peach varieties. One justified reason is they are all more similar to each other, at least of the common varieties. The US peaches came from a very narrow gene pool of imports. I am growing out some of the unusual Chinese peaches and one has such a long season that I doubt I will be able to ripen it in time! Another one is shaped like a prune plum. Besides these unusual Chinese peaches the rest are relatively close compared to apples, basically there has been many more years of genetic improvement of apples in the west.. Still, my guess is when the antique apple trend starts to get old there will be an interest in antique peaches, pears, cherries, etc.

I'm happy to make a multi-graft peach for you in a trade for your plums I am interested in. We can touch base this winter about it.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 9:01AM
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alan haigh

Thanks Scott, a pleasure and honor to be associated with you.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 3:44PM
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I think I am with Harvest man on the best peach. Mine is the third reliant I pick. The first 2 are hoping I can start eating peaches to early. If my fury's start producing next year the third one of them might become my favorite. My favorite apple is yellow transparent. When I pick it I know there will be apples in my truck till at least december.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 4:13PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"my point is that anyone that enjoys tree-ripened peaches should be picking from the earliest to the latest possible time."

Hman, I agree completely. Peaches don't keep. If you want fresh peaches more than a couple weeks/year, it merits planting early, mid, and late season varieties.

"It isn't what is the best tasting peach of all but what is the best at any given point of the season."

It depends. If one wants to eat the best fresh peaches throughout the season, then yeah plant the best varieties for that window.

The problem is some people have memories longer than 9 months. Once they try one of your best (later season) peaches they are disappointed one of your early season varieties (even if it's still way better than storebought) doesn't blow them away.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 11:10AM
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alan haigh

Olpea that may be a problem with some of your customers but I think most home growers just enjoy a steady stream of tree ripened peaches and aren't going to experience less pleasure just because they can remember an even better peach- as long as the peach is good and sweet with nice texture.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 11:32AM
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Thank you guys all for wealth of info.

@Scott I will have to share fruit stories from Iran sometime. I have had the vast majority of my best fruit experiences in Iran. It is truly a land of amazing fruit. Although- the mainstream market fruit is starting to get corrupted now sadly but not too hard to find really good fruit still. There are many interesting fruit stories I can share :). My cousin currently has an orchard there with dates, limes, lemons, oranges, sweet lime, and limequat. Another uncle used to grow plums, peaches, nuts and grapes until a few years ago and was also a wholesale fruit seller at another time. Grandpa had a commercial apricot orchard until a few years back. Hard to find anyone in southern Iran who's not at least a backyard orchardist, at least in my family. The best fruit I've had is wild fruit that grows in the arid mountains in the south famous for never being watered and receiving virtually 0 rainfall. I've had the pleasure of having figs and askari grapes (I think similar to sultana when you don't use gibberellic acid) grown in this style and they taste like... something else. Good fruit has always been relatively cheap in Iran so it's a much bigger part of people's diets/culture than anywhere else I've seen.

I'm thrilled to hear from you btw that growing apricots here is possible! I had no idea. I'm going to give it a try with Tomcot and probably hold off of on nectarines for now (didn't realize those mandated so much spray).

BTW are you getting all of your Iranian varieties from Pars Produce? Based on online reviews it sounds like they may be of questionable legitimacy these are truly Iranian varieties?

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 10:01PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Persian says "The best fruit I've had is wild fruit that grows in the arid mountains in the south famous for never being watered and receiving virtually 0 rainfall."

I keep telling these guys that the best fruit comes from trees that are grown with a long period of moderate water deficit. This year that gave me a lot of fruit that averaged mid 20s brix. Was the fruit you refer to very sweet, smaller than normal, and highly flavored? If not what made that your best fruit ever?

I've been told that the best fruit in CA is grown dryland in areas with winter rainfall, deep soil, and old drought tolerant trees. That says the exact same thing to me that you stated above.

Unfortunately the eastern humid USA is a difficult place to grow the highest eating quality fruit.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 10:37PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

PersianMD, my impression of Pars is some of the varieties may be legitimate, but others seem to be other varieties they just put a Persian name on. I did get a couple of apricots from them which I assumed to be Iranian, but they proved to not do well in my climate. The Shekar Pareh is available from several nurseries since Dave Wilson has been propagating it. It does very well at avoiding brown rot. Zard I got from a scionwood swap, I don't know where it is sold. Lasgerdi Mashaad is available from e.g. arboreum nursery, and they have some other central asian type apricots. So, you can get some of them, but they seem to prefer dry climates and don't set well or crack or rot. Shekar Pareh is the only exception I have found to that.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 12:22AM
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Was the fruit you refer to very sweet, smaller than normal, and highly flavored?

I've been told that the best fruit in CA is grown dryland in areas with winter rainfall, deep soil, and old drought tolerant trees. That says the exact same thing to me that you stated above.

@Fruitnut, Yup, exactly, especially with the sultana style grapes. Although with some fruit it's more to it than just small and sweet like with the grapes, for example pomegranates can get pretty complex flavors on the spectrum of sweet to tart when they're in the middle there of both and when the pits in the seeds become negligible instead of hard as wood chips- or when a nigra mulberry is just huge and so juicy but still extremely flavorful or maybe you've seen here but I haven't when a fig is so ripe the red pink nectar is oozing out from the bottom hole or when a pomegranate bursts open on the tree from the sun fully ripening it not bursting open from a disease or because of excess rainfall.

But yeah, definitely a trend of smaller and sweeter exists I'd say- another common example of that would be the strawberries- they're tiny/mushy not aesthetically pleasing at all compared to grocery store strawberries here looking epic and beautiful... but the taste is something else with the small ones. This phenomenon of not watering the wild fruit (which are usually in not so easy places to go pick the fruit) has a name for it in Iran- "bash" lots of different fruit can be "bash" meaning grown wild in drought like conditions. I suspect the trees are pretty old too. I think pomegranate exists like this too- I've had fig and grapes bash before.

All that being said, I've had some of my best fruit experiences here too. I was actually born in Virginia am pretty proud of our watermelon and peaches here :). The mid-Atlantic and South can grow very delicious fruit- I've always been impressed with how good fruit can taste in the U.S. once it's actually grown right instead of bought from a typical grocery store.

BTW lots of fruit is now being imported to Iran along the same lines of typical grocery store fruit here and it's messing up the market for good tasting local fruit. I'm afraid in very short time if not already typical Iranian fruit markets will be worse than grocery store fruit here... before they all see the light again and start going old school/eco-friendly/green/homegrown/local/organic what have you like what's happening here.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 2:04AM
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alan haigh

Persian, because you obviously value highly flavored fruit I think you might want to reconsider your take on nectarines. I'm in southeastern NY and am now relying on nectarines more and more as the stonefruit of choice. This season, when my late peaches turned bland from excessive rain, my nectarines were still amazing. No matter how much water they still store the brix.

You can probably grow them with just a couple of well timed fungicide applications which may be necessary for peaches anyway. I suggest starting with varieties you can get from ACN because they have a track record for east coast conditions.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 7:11AM
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