peaches for cold weather

tom4aDecember 2, 2007

I'm looking for info on a (good tasting) peach that would grow in central MN. Zone 4 close to zone 5. Anybody had any luck around here? I would be greatful for all your input! Thanks, tom

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theaceofspades(7 Long Island)

A brand new peach cultivar called Trugold looks like the perfect match up for cold weather. I don't think anyone has heard of it because I first saw it in Henry Fields a week ago. Trugold peach grows on its own roots and can regrow if killed above. It is very vigorous and is a late bloomer, good for cold weather. I am going to try one upstate NY, zone 5. The fact that the seed grows same as its parent, makes Trugold unkillable. Anyone see a down side planting Trugold in zone5 or 4?

Here is a link that might be useful: Trugold peach

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 10:33PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I don't think Trugold has been tested extensively in cold weather. One of the main problems with peaches in cold climates is so-called "bud hardiness" - super cold snaps can kill all the buds off. So you have a nice leafy tree year after year, but no peaches. The "big deal" about Trugold is it comes true from seed but I'm not sure why that is such a big deal anyway - many old heirloom peaches also come true to seed. If you want to try a peach I would try Reliance or one of the more tried-and-true cold hardy varieties.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 10:51PM
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theaceofspades(7 Long Island)

Scott, I see what you are saying about the tree leafing out but the buds breaking in deep freezes. We have some healthy 15 ft high plum trees upstate NY but never plums. This spring I am going to try grafting Italian, Stanley, Superior buds from my trees here on Long Island.
tom4a, Cummins nursery in upstate NY(z5)close to Cornell U., has several hardy peach varieties available this spring. Cummins lists Reliance as their most hardy peach. The trade off with the hardiness is that the flavor is not great.
The zone map lists Minnesota as zone 3 and 4. I'd call Cummins for their advice on what your choices are.


Here is a link that might be useful: Cummins peach varieties

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 6:34AM
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For what it's worth, I planted a Reliance on dwarf rootstock from Stark in Spring 2006. Last winter, the coldest it got was about -15 degrees where I live. Also, we had some very early cold weather, approaching 0 degrees in early December. In spite of this, the Reliance peach had numerous blossoms this past spring, and set 2 fruit. These ultimately fell off, but it was only a one year old tree.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 5:19PM
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I would say go ahead and plant a Trugold, and call it an experimental program. I might not say this if you were a commercial producer planning to plant 1,000 trees, but hobby growers can afford to experiment. This cultivar apparently came from the ARS program at Kearneysville, WV, where some very serious people do peach research. I visited there several times, and was impressed with the knowledge and dedication of their scientific staff.

At the same time, I agree with Scott that bud hardiness is one of the most important features of a peach tree in cold winter climates (we are talking about the fruiting buds here), and see no particular advantage to a peach tree on its own roots. It would be logical to find Trugold more vigorous than grafted trees, which is not necessarily a good thing. I already have to control the growth of my grafted trees by pruning several times a year or they would just be huge, bushy structures with no sun on the peaches.

I have both Reliance and Contender here, and would put in a vote for planting a Reliance at the same time as your Trugold. Reliance is often described as poor quality, but that does not square with my experience here. Later peaches tend to be sweeter and more dense than earlier varieties, but Reliance, which ripens at the end of July here, tastes just fine, and is firm enough for freezing purposes. All the peaches on the Contender (over 50) were dead ripe on July 11, when all were picked. The Contender peaches were much softer and more watery than Reliance. This was the first real bearing year for the young, 3-year Contender, and maybe it will improve in the future. But this year, Contender was not freezing quality.

My experience comparing Reliance and Contender is just the opposite of some nursery descriptions (e.g. Gurney's Nursery), which has Contender as later and higher quality than Reliance. So much for nursery descriptions. I was simply amazed to see the Contender peaches ripe so early in July, scarcely a week after the early apricots. All of my peaches, which also include the later Golden Jubilee, a Peento type called Flat Wonderful (excellent!), and a white cultivar from Zaiger called Sugar Giant, were grown in shoe store try-on footies to defeat the oriental fruit moth, which worked out well. No insect sprays during the growing season, but a couple before final thinning and bagging. So now, the only real problem I have to deal with is bacterial spot, which was bad on the Sugar Giant, but not on the others. Bacterial spot resistance is, to me, a more important feature in a peach than bud hardiness, since I don't have to face below-zero winters.

So the bottom line is try planting one each of Trugold and Reliance. One or the other, and possibly both, are going to work out for you. Then maybe you can give us a report comparing the two as grown in upstate NY. We can wait.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 8:11PM
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Hey, thanks for the inputs, I'll look into truegold, I was looking at Reliance, but also herd that it wasnt the best tasting. I'm also wondering what rootstock would be a good choice,we have a somewhat clay type soil here....So many questions, at least I have all winter to research. Thanks! tom

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 8:38PM
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Sorry Tom, I got a little mixed up and addressed my response to Ace, when you are the one who posed the original question. But no matter, the climate challenges faced by both of you are very similar. I also think you would be happy with Reliance, which might deliver if for some reason Trugold does not. I just can't identify with that claim that Reliance peaches are of substandard quality. And if they both work out, more happy peach eating.

In your zone, you may not be able to count on a peach crop every year, but two out of three would be fine. Even around here commercial growers can be hit by a late freeze that wipes out the crop. It happened in Kentucky, Tennessee, and parts of North Carolina just this past Easter. Somehow, my peach blossoms survived the freezing nights.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 2:28AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

For what its worth, I found the original TruGold plant patent online and there was no mention whatsoever of its hardiness. There were all sorts of other features/advantages of it that were mentioned so it makes me wonder a bit if that is not just something that Gurneys tacked on to try to drum up a little more interest in it. So unless you are in a major experimenting mood I would stick with Reliance. Another very hardy peach is Georgia Belle - don't be fooled by the name, it is common in the upper midwest. It is a white-fleshed peach.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 8:31AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I have 4 Reliance 3 in the ground this past spring, one the spring before that.

Here is one of the 10 or so fruit it produced. The taste was excellent.

We hit -20F last winter and have already been down to the low single digits. I'd worry about more about spring time freezes or worse yet, spring time warm spells followed by spring time freezes!

I've got some seed stratifying that i plan on growing out this spring. Peach comes pretty true to seed and if not, it could be use for rootstock or kindling.

I will add, out of all my trees i have, the peaches are by far the fastest growing, least effected by bugs and disease. The chafers never even bothered them, while they chomped my plums and apples bad. I have very sandy soil here.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 12:29PM
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Some very nice looking young peach trees there. Shows you what a healthy tree can do in terms of growth the second season. Also notice you are doing some branch spreading, and at just the right time. When those trees mature, you might find them to be a little close. I only have one Reliance tree, but when I dormant prune it, it explodes in growth the following season, and I have to do even more pruning to let some sun in on the peaches. I would probably have only three trees in that row, or maybe even two.

My Reliance tree is now 15 years old, and still no sign of bacterial canker, which is the biggest threat to my peach trees. I dormant spray with copper after losing a fair number of trees to this disease, and it seems to be working.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 2:07PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I know. Those middle ones are going to need serious pruning! I plan on trying to make them spread east/west and keep them very narrow north/south...but oh well. Live and learn!

I have an ok sized yard, but nothing huge, so i really try to keep things tight. The spot they are in get lots of sun all day until about 5 when a big maple starts to throw its shade on them. Whats interesting is how well they grow in this soil i have.

When the fruit really starts rolling in i'll be stratifying a lot of seeds and plan on learning the art of grafting so then if i chop a tree, its no loss. I'm ruthless when it comes to plants, if i don't like them or the spot they are in, there gone! My wife didn't like watching me take the chainsaw to a nice Green ash we had in the backyard! She'll like it when its heating us next winter :)

Since the picture above i've increased the mulch in every direction.

On the other side of the driveway i'm using a row of 3 peaches.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 3:35PM
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I don't know what kind of peach tree I have, but I'm guessing it is Reliance. It does well here in Madison WI, but I'll need to take it out sometime in the next few years as it has an open wound on the trunk that isn't healing and has fungus growing in it. The peaches, however, are plentiful and very good. I didn't get peaches two years ago which was either from a late freeze or a bad case of peach leaf curl. I'm thinking of planting another peach tree this spring of either Reliance or Madison. Peaches fresh off the tree are so much better than anything you've ever had from a grocery store and aren't that much work either. Even without any sort of insect control I had more peaches than I could eat. I'm planning on trying the footies next year to get an even better crop so I throw away less.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 3:42PM
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Wow! nice peach franktank.
Don thanks for the inputs, it's good to know that the Reliance dosent taste as bad as some people would have you believe.
Scott, do you think the Georgia Bell would stand up close to the Reliance? I realize that the trees might freeze back now and then, but I'm up for the experiment. I have room for two and I'm leaning towards the Reliance, but not sure of the other. Any root stock suggestions?

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 8:06PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

The Reliance's off my tree (soft to touch) were the best tasting peaches you could ever think about getting around here. I think my wife would agree! I think a lot of peaches would do fine temp wise, its just getting one that keeps its buds closed until the threat of freezing weather has past.

I'm over by LaCrosse (right by the river). Now that i know what peach trees look like i've noticed quite a few in other peoples yards. The Hmong in my area seem to grow most of the ones i see and they are very good at growing things.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 11:13PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Tom, Reliance is the best from reports I have heard. Belle of Georgia is in the next tier, along with peaches such as Polly (white) and Veteran (yellow). I don't have direct experience so thats about all I can say about hardiness. Veteran is a tasty peach with a thick fuzzy skin. It is great for canning because the skins pop off easily. It was bred for cold-hardiness in Canada. It has a particularly late bloom as well which is good for avoiding frost damage. I don't know much about Polly other than it was bred for cold-hardiness. For the rootstock I would not get any dwarfing stock since you want maximum vigor. Halford of Lovell are standard stocks, and anything called "standard" or "peach" is likely one of those two.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2007 at 1:07PM
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I just bought a trugold and contender from gurneys and a reliance from nature hills. I'm new to fruit trees and I planted 4 pear, 3 juneberry and 3 apricot today; I'm in upstate NY; said to be zone 5 now. Just moved here, interested to see how the peaches do.

My question: does anyone cover peach trees (perhaps with a heated movable greenhouse) during the dangerous times in spring to prevent frost damaging the buds? Should work, right?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 12:40AM
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Well, I know this is a very old thread but I'm dying to know how the truGold peach turned out! I've been ordering it for 2 years from Gurneys, but the order keeps getting canceled as out of stock. I've ordered it again this spring, so we'll see if I get it. Just would love to see if it is able to fruit in the colder zones. Gurneys says it blooms later then Contender. I have had really good luck getting fruit on my Contender, even with frosts on the bloom. Ripens in mid Aug. here in Southern Wisconsin. I've also ordered a Flaming Fury PF-24C Cold Hardy. This is supposed to be the ultimate Cold climate peach, We'll see. I would have started a new thead, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet, as I'm new to this forum.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 1:41PM
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