Difficulty
peaches require moderate to high effort to manage.
∙ disease resistant varieties
∙ in a moderately wet climate
Bloom
while they don't bloom as late as apples or sour cherries, they do bloom relatively late. There is a decent chance the hardiest varieties will frequently avoid frost damage in most of the country.
Ripens
70 to 150 days after bloom
Pollination
self-fertile
pH
Prefers slightly acidic soil (6.1 - 6.5)

Cold Hardiness



With the exception of the cold hardy varieties, peach trees can handle temperatures down to zone 5a (-15F to -20F), but their flower buds are only hardy down to -5F to -12F, depending on the weather of the previous few days.  Bud hardiness begins around -5F (zone 6b), but they develop a few extra degrees of hardiness, down to -12F, for every day the temperature is below 29F. If the temperature rises above freezing once again, even for just a few hours, the process restarts.

Cold hardy varieties may bear after experiencing zone 5a temperatures (-15F to -20F), but fruit set can vary widely.  The trees of some varieties have also survived zone 4 temperatures (somewhere between -20F to -30F).  Futhermore, most cold hardy varieties bloom late or have additional frost resistance to their flowers.


Disease and Pests



Brown rot is the most devastating disease that affects peaches.  It can ruin the entire crop in unfavorable weather when chemical control is absent.  Bacterial spot can also be a problem, but there are a number of varieties that are fairly resistant.  It should not be confused with peach scab, which is often quite minor on its own.  Peach leaf curl is a problem in areas that experience cool and wet conditions around the time the tree comes out of dormancy.  In some high pressure regions, such as the Willamette Valley, most varieties may only last a few years before they die, and those that are considered resistant will also struggle (without intervention).  Peaches on standard rootstock are quite vigorous and often callus over areas infected with canker.  This is more likely to occur in warmer regions. 

The oriental fruit moth and the greater peachtree borer are the pests of most concern.  The oriental fruit moth behaves differently with peaches than they do with other stonefruit in that the first few generations feed on young shoots, which becomes apparent by the wilting leaves.  The greater peachtree borer generally targets the first 6 inches of the trunk.  While they also feed on other species, they are particularly damaging to peaches due to their soft wood.  Vigourous trees will often outgrow the damage, but borers are occasionally responsible for the death of the tree.

Plum curculio may also be a cause for concern, but based on my observations, they are significantly less of a problem for peaches than they are for apples (deforms the fruit) and plums (drops the fruit), even in high pressure areas.  I cannot say this is the norm, but I have seen one other imply something similar.  However, they might create entry points for pathogens, which wouldn't pair well with a wet climate.  This hasn't been an issue for me, but the peaches here ripen when the average daily high is between 72F and 62F, which is, for the most part, low enough to inhibit brown rot growth.  Plum curculio are generally limited to the eastern half of the United States.




Read More

Peaches: Cold Hardy

Peach varieties listed here, particularly those rated for zone 5a, have demonstrated the ability to produce a decent crop after experiencing temperatures between -10F and -20F.   However, reports are very few in number for every variety except for Contender, which consistently excels over those it has been compared to.   Contender is a must have for anyone attempting to grow peaches in zone 5, and it is best paired with a relatively hardy rootstock, such as Bailey, Guardian, Siberian C, or a seedling from one of the more cold hardy varieties.   Those with "frost resistant" flower buds aren't necessarily hardy when it comes to winter lows, but based on the information that is currently available, they appear to tolerate, or avoid, late frosts better than most.

Baby Crawford

🔍
Discovered in Escalon, California.
Zone
• 5a
• 800 chill hours
Flowers
• showy
Blooms
💮
•    ◦ frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• mid-late
• 3 to 3.5 weeks after Redhaven
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• freestone
• light fuzz
Afflictions
• At least somewhat susceptible to bacterial spot?

Carolina Gold

🔍
Biscoe x NC-C5S-067 (Encore x Calanda San Miguel 2383).  Originated in North Carolina, PP17780 (2004).
Zone
• 5
• 1050 chill hours
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ at least somewhat frost resistant?
Ripens
🍑
• late
• 4 to 4.5 weeks after Redhaven
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• freestone, light fuzz
Afflictions
• At least somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

Challenger

🔍
Redhaven x (Reliance x Biscoe).  Originated in North Carolina, PP12375 (1999).
Zone
• 5
• 950 chill hours
Flowers
• non-showy
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ at least somewhat frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• early-mid
• 1 week after Redhaven
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• freestone
Afflictions
• At least somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

China Pearl

🔍
Contender x PI 134401.  Developed in North Carolina, PP11914 (1998).
Zone
• 5
• 900-1100 chill hours
Flowers
• showy
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• late
• 4.5 to 5 weeks after Redhaven
Color
• white flesh
Fruit
• freestone
• low acid
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

Contender

🔍
Winblo x NC64 (Summercrest x Redhaven)? Introduced in North Carolina (1987-1989).
Zone
• 5a
• 1050 chill hours
Flowers
• non-showy
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• mid-late
• 3 weeks after Redhaven
Color
• yellow flesh
Growth
• upright growth
Fruit
• freestone
Afflictions
• At least somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

Whether it comes to late frosts or winter lows, the Contender peach seems to be the most consistent producer after an unfavorably cold weather event.

Early Redhaven

🔍
bud mutation of Redhaven
Zone
• 5
Flowers
• non-showy
Blooms
💮
•    ◦ somewhat frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• early
• 2 weeks before Redhaven
Fruit
• semi-freestone

Encore

🔍
Consists of Autumnglo, Krasvynos, and White Hale in its parentage.  Developed in New Jersey, Introduced in 1980.
Zone
• 5
Flowers
• non-showy
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ at least somewhat frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• late
• 4.5 to 5 weeks after Redhaven
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• freestone
Afflictions
• At least somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

Encore may struggle to develop enough sugar some years.

Ernie's Choice

🔍
unknown parentage
Zone
• 5     ◦ 850 chill hours
Flowers
• showy
Blooms
💮
•    ◦ at least somewhat frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• mid
• 2.5 weeks after Redhaven
• short harvest season
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• freestone
• firm
• high acid
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

Poor weather can cause Ernie's Choice to become too acidic, otherwise it is reputed to have a very good and relatively strong flavor to those who prefer a good amount of acid with their fruit.

Frost

🔍
Zone
• 5
• 700 chill hours
Ripens
🍑
• mid
• roughly 1.5 weeks after Redhaven
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• semi-freestone
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to leaf curl.

Garnet Beauty

🔍
Bud mutation of Redhaven.  Introduced in Ruthven, Ontario (1958).
Zone
• 5
Flowers
• non-showy
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ somewhat frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• early
• 1.5 to 2 weeks before Redhaven
Fruit
• semi-freestone
• light fuzz
Afflictions
• At least somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

Harrow Diamond

🔍
Redskin x Harbinger.  Developed in Ontario.
Zone
• 5a     ◦ 850+ chill hours
Flowers
• showy
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• very early
• 3 weeks before Redhaven
Color
• yellow flesh
Growth
• medium vigor
Fruit
• semi-freestone
Afflictions
• Resistant to bacterial spot.  At least somewhat resistant to brown rot and canker.

Indian Free

🔍
Alias
• Blood Free
Zone
• 5
Flowers
• showy
Blooms
💮
• very late
Ripens
🍑
• very late
• roughly 8 weeks after Redhaven
Color
• red flesh, tan skin
Fruit
• freestone
• high acid
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to leaf curl.
Susceptible to bacterial spot.

Indian Free develops a unique flavor, but the grow season may not be long enough for it to ripen in most zone 5 areas, which is unfortunate, because it has supposedly performed quite well after experiencing zone 5b temperatures for a few people (at least on one occasion).

Intrepid

🔍
Redhaven x (Reliance x Biscoe).  Developed in North Carolina, PP12357 (1999).
Zone
• 5
• 1000+ chill hours
Flowers
• non-showy
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ at least somewhat frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• mid
• roughly 2 weeks after Redhaven
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• freestone
Afflictions
• At least somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

Madison

🔍
Ideal x Redhaven.  Developed in Virginia (1963).
Zone
• 5
Flowers
• non-showy
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ at least somewhat frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• mid-late (late)
• 3.5 to 4 weeks after Redhaven
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• freestone, light fuzz
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

PF 24C

🔍
Developed in Michigan.  PP15659
Zone
• 5
Flowers
• non-showy
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ somewhat frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• mid-late
• 3.5 weeks after Redhaven
Color
• yellow flesh
Growth
• medium vigor
Fruit
• freestone
Afflictions
• At least somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

Polly

🔍
Originated in Iowa
Zone
• 5a
• 1000 chill hours
Flowers
• showy
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ at least somewhat frost resistant?
Ripens
🍑
• mid
• 1 or 2 weeks after Redhaven
Color
• white flesh
Fruit
• freestone

Ranger

🔍
Zone
• 5
• 900 chill hours
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ at least somewhat frost resistant?
Ripens
🍑
• possibly 1 week after Redhaven, but information is sparse and contradicting.
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• freestone
Afflictions
• At least somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

Ranger is supposedly one of the more cold hardy, frost resistant peach varieties, but I can hardly find any information about it.

Redhaven

🔍
Halehaven x Kalhaven.  Introduced in Michigan (1940).
Zone
• 5a
• 800 chill hours
Flowers
• non-showy
Blooms
💮
•    ◦ at least somewhat frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• early-mid
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• semi-freestone
• semi-firm
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

Redhaven generally ripens early to mid August in the northern half of the United States.

Reliance

🔍
? x Meredith.  Developed in New Hampshire (1964).
Zone
• 5a
• 1000 chill hours
Flowers
• non-showy
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• early-mid
• 0 to 0.5 weeks after Redhaven
• drops when ripe
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• freestone
Storage
• short shelf-life
Afflictions
• At least somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

Reliance may not have as good of a reputation as most other varieties, but oftentimes, it manages to develop a good peach flavor.

Risingstar

🔍
Zone
• 5a
Flowers
• non-showy
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• early (early-mid)
• 1 to 2 weeks before Redhaven
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• semi-freestone
Afflictions
• At least somewhat resistant to bacterial spot and canker.

Salish Summer

🔍
Discovered in Washington
Alias
• Q18
Zone
• 5
• 700-800 chill hours
Ripens
🍑
• early-mid
• roughly 1 week after Redhaven
Color
• white flesh
Fruit
• semi-freestone
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to leaf curl.

Saturn

🔍
NJ 602903 x Pallas.  Developed in New Jersey, PP5123 (1982).
Zone
• 5
• 400 chill hours
Flowers
• showy
Blooms
💮
• early     ◦ at least somewhat frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• early-mid
• 0.5 weeks before Redhaven
Color
• white flesh
Fruit
• donut-type
• freestone
• light fuzz
• high sugar
• low acid
Afflictions
• Resistant to bacterial spot.

Saturn may lack flavor for some and tear at the stem when picked, but its high sugar content compensates for many.  It also appears to be hardier and (at least slightly) more flavorful than Galaxy, which is another donut peach that ripens about a week later, but Saturn is smaller in size by a fairly significant amount.

Siberian C

🔍
unknown parentage
Zone
• 5a
Flowers
• showy
Blooms
💮
• late
Ripens
🍑
• late
Color
• white flesh with some green.
Fruit
• small-size
Storage
• short shelf-life
Afflictions
• Resistant to bacterial spot.  Somewhat resistant to leaf curl.

I believe Siberian C generally refers to a strain rather than a specific selection, so some of these traits may vary a bit.  Assuming the trees I have sampled from are Siberian C as claimed, which I believe they are, they can have a good and rather unique flavor with a decent amount of acid for a white peach, but they have a short shelf-life.  During the first or second year they produced, they were very bitter, but there was little to no bitterness the two years after that.  Siberian C ripened roughly 5 weeks after the time I expect Redhaven to ripen in my climate. 

The Siberian C peach can be used as a semi-dwarfing rootstock.

Surecrop

🔍
Zone
• 5a     ◦ 1000 chill hours
Flowers
• non-showy
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• early
• ~2 weeks before Redhaven
Fruit
• semi-freestone
Afflictions
• At least somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

Veteran

🔍
Early Elberta x Vaughn.  Developed in Canada (1928).
Zone
• 5a
• 900 chill hours
Flowers
• showy
Blooms
💮
• late     ◦ frost resistant
Ripens
🍑
• mid-late
• 3 (maybe 4) weeks after Redhaven
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• freestone or semi-freestone, heavy fuzz

Peaches: Notable Mentions

Nanaimo

🔍
Discovered in British Columbia
Ripens
🍑
• around Redhaven, according to one claim.
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• freestone
Afflictions
• At least somewhat resistant to leaf curl.

In-spite of (supposedly) being one of the most resistant to peach leaf curl, Nanaimo is still at least somewhat susceptible in the climate experienced near the west coast.  In fact, it sounds like it has no actual resistance in much of the area, due to inappropriate conditions, but a few appear to have had some success. 

I currently do not see much of a pattern that points to one curl resistant variety being superior to most others, but 'Oregon Curl Free' might have the edge.  Conversely, 'Mary Jane' apparently has less resistance than what was previously implied.

Red Baron

🔍
PP4195
Zone
• 6     ◦ 250-300 chill hours
Blooms
💮
• early
Ripens
🍑
• mid?
• at least 1 or 2 weeks after Redhaven, I believe.
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• freestone
• heavy fuzz
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to bacterial spot.

The Red Baron peach produces ornamental double red blossoms.

Rich May

🔍
Developed in Modesto, California (1991).
Zone
• 6     ◦ 800-900 chill hours
Blooms
💮
• late
Ripens
🍑
• very early     ◦ 5 weeks before Redhaven
Color
• yellow flesh
Fruit
• clingstone
• firm
Afflictions
• Somewhat susceptible to bacterial spot.

Rich May is one of the earliest ripening peach varieties.  While I am not sure how it compares to some of the best tasting varieties, it is known for producing high quality peaches compared to others that ripen sooner than most.  It is probably not appropriate for zone 5, though.