2020 Peach Evaluations

I thought I’d start peach evaluation report for 2020. I haven’t really seen a comprehensive one yet for 2020, but maybe I’ve missed it?

A lot of folks in the Midwest lost most of their peach crop (myself included) because of late freezes, so there may not be a lot of evaluations from the central states.

I had some preliminary observations back in April of this year in this thread:

But thought I would post some end of the year evaluations. Sometimes it’s hard to count the number of peaches on a tree after a freeze. The little ones hide in the foliage. It’s much easier to see how the variety performed when it’s close to harvest. As always, I’m only evaluating varieties we’re currently growing. We’ve removed lots of varieties which didn’t make the cut (poor production, poor flavor, etc.) There’s not quite so much for me to sort out (from a variety selection standpoint) since I think I have a fairly good handle on what varieties work best for my orchard, after lots of trials.

Most of the comments this year are focused on whether the variety produced anything or not. In most cases, we want to plant more trees of varieties which produced well this year. Almost nothing needed thinning this year, so when I mention full crops, that generally means full crops without any thinning, because the frost already thinned the trees to full crops.

Earlystar -22 This window is the earliest we grow. This peach did OK in terms of production. Peaches were thin on the trees, but picked quite a few. This is the best tasting peach I’ve tried for this window. But I don’t think I’m going to plant anymore of this one. Its tree form is just too hard to manage. Because it grows straight up, it takes an extra year to get into production. We end up pruning most of the new wood off young trees to try to train the trees low and spreading. This wouldn’t be an issue for a backyard orchardist, who had more time to tie branches down. The fruit also gets a fair amount of split pits, which were worse this year because of thin cropping.

Spring Snow -21 This is my favorite tasting white peach. Trees practically blank. This variety never produces well, even in the best of years. I’ve only kept it because it tastes so darn good. Really though, I need to start to remove these trees. Fruit which tastes great, but doesn’t produce much, doesn’t pay the bills.

Harrow Diamond -20 These trees did really well this year. Full crops mostly. I’ve been waffling back and forth on which trees I like better for this window (Earlystar or Harrow Diamond). Even though some years the flavor of this peach isn’t quite as good as Earlystar, I am putting Earlystar in second place to Harrow Diamond. Harrow Diamond is much easier to grow, comes into production faster, more consistent production, and has fewer split pits.

PF7a -15 A few peaches, but not much this year. I have one tree of this variety and won’t replace it, when it’s finally removed.

Garnet Beauty -15 Decent production in most trees. One or two trees was pretty thin though. Flavor was OK.

Surecrop -15 Full crop. The problem with this variety is that it produces small fruit, and the flavor sometimes isn’t very good.

Early Redhaven -15 About the same production as Garnet Beauty. Flavor is a teeny bit better than Garnet Beauty.

Risingstar -14 This is the gold standard for this window. Produced full crops this year. Peach has excellent flavor, and virtually no bac. spot. Imo, this is the best peach overall from the Stellar peach breeding program.

Glenglo -13 Production suffered, but did sell quite a few peaches off these trees. Produces big ole nice tasting peaches.

PF Eight Ball Not sure when this one ripens. This would have been the first year these trees produced, but all the fruit was frosted off.

Saturn -5 Trees were nearly blank. I think out of 13 trees, we picked half dozen fruit. This was very unusual for this cultivar. Generally we get full crops from this variety. It’s a great white peach, but tears badly at the stem during picking.

Clayton -5 Mostly full crops this year. These fruit want to drop close to harvest. Best peach flavor for this window. Fruit is a little small.

PF9a -5 Full crops this year. This variety produces like crazy and very consistently. Peaches are big. Flavor is good. This one one of the best selections from Paul Friday.

Harken -4 Blank this year. Clayton or PF9a is better for this window.

Redhaven 0 Slightly thin production, but we still were able to pick a lot of fruit off these trees.

TangOs 0 I have this one ripening with Redhaven. But this flat peach ripens over almost a 3 week period of time from first ripe to last picked. This peach had variable production this year. Some trees full crops, others not much. As with most years, this year the peach inked bad and lots of rot issues. This is a hard peach for us to grow, but the unique flavor and requests from customers keep us growing it.

Starfire +1 Slightly less production this year than Redhaven, It doesn’t have quite the bac. spot issues of Redhaven. Not that Redhaven has tons of bac. spot, but this one is better on that count.

Blazingstar +4 Empty this year.

PF15a +4 Pretty thin crops on these trees. Good tasting peach. Very dark red and can sunburn a few of the peaches some years. Picking them a bit earlier helps with sunburn.

PF14 +4 Blank this year.

PF Lucky13 +4 This peach is a loser. Never produces well. Blank this year. No surprise there.

Johnboy +5 Thin production but picked a few peaches off these trees. Maybe a third of full production. Nice flavor. Big peach.

TangOs II +6 Very thin production. Plus the peaches either rotted, or split, or both. I don’t know that we sold any peaches of this variety. But we only have two trees.

Challenger +7 Maybe 1/2 the production of full crops. Smaller peach with good flavor.

Ernies Choice +11 Full crops. Peach has a lot of acid, which gives it a lot of flavor. But the peach can be tart if we get too much cloudy weather and/or rain near harvest. As always with Ernies Choice, fruit size was very variable this season.

Tubby Dubby +11 This is an unnamed variety we simply call Tubby Dubby. It’s my favorite tasting peach. Production typically is light most years. This year I think we picked a half dozen peaches from four trees.

Blazeprince +11 Terrible producer. This year the one trial tree was blank. I need to get rid of this thing.

PF17 +12 We picked a few peaches off these trees, but not very many. Flavor is good.

Allstar +12 Nothing this year on these trees. This was surprising because normally this variety produces abundant fruit year after year.

Glohaven +13 Produced maybe 1/3 of full crops. Normally this tree is a light producer anyway (about 50% production normally) so it was a surprise to see this much fruit on these trees. As always fruits were huge, with some split pits. We sold several one pounders from this variety this year. Nice tasting peaches.

Harrow Beauty +14 Trees were blank. There are better varieties for this window.

Winblo +14 This is normally somewhat of a light producer for me. But most of these trees had close to full crops this year. Pleasant surprise. Nice sized good tasting fruit. Very evenly sized.

Intrepid +15 Very light production this year. Maybe 10% of full crop.

PF19-007 +19 Trees are still young, but bloomed nicely and set fruit. But none of the fruit survived the freeze.

Loring +19 Blank this year.

Mr. Ed +19 Unnamed peach we named Mr. Ed. Blank this year, but generally a good producer. Better flavor than Contender.

Contender +21 Full crops. This one is easy to overcrop because it sets so heavily. It has a poor tree form, but have planted more Contender because of its very consistent full production. I’m not totally impressed with the flavor of this peach, but it’s decent if not overcropped. Had to be thinned some this year.

Veteran +22 This variety was completely unaffected by the freeze. I don’t think the freeze killed one fruitlet, which was amazing to see. I have just one trial tree and have grafted a bunch more. This variety is also easily overcropped because it sets so heavily. One drawback is the size is a bit small, but the flavor is very good, if not overcropped. Color isn’t the best either. And it drops a little bit.

PF23 +23 Not much fruit at all this year. Maybe 5% production.

Scarletprince +23 Pretty much blank. Even with very few fruit, the variety produces small fruit. Taste is good though.

Baby Crawford +23 This is a real winner for this window. Despite the name, fruit size is OK, as long as not overcropped. Flavor is quite good. Dependable producer. Produced full crops this year. Starting to add more of this variety.

Sweet Breeze +23 Maybe 25% production this year. Big peaches. Very good flavor, especially for a sub-acid peach.

PF24c +24 Full crops this year. These trees took some time to get into production, but once started, have been very consistent producers. Flavor is pretty decent.

Julyprince +25 A big disappointment this year. Normally this variety produces loads of evenly sized nice tasting peaches. This year nothing.

Glowingstar +27 Not much production this year.

Cresthaven +27 Pretty light production. Bac. spot magnet.

Madison +27 Pretty decent production, but not quite full. Nice flavored old timey peach. Uneven size. Shape is slighly weird. Color is poor. Some bac. spot.

PF25 +28 Empty

Redskin +28 Empty

Carolina Gold +29 Maybe 10% production. Beautiful gold peach. Good flavor.

PF27a +32 Empty

Encore +33 Pretty much empty. Maybe 5% production. This was an anomaly for this variety. Normally it produces consist full crops.

PF35-007 +35 Maybe 50% production. Always produces nice sized evenly sized peaches. Good flavor.

Laurol +38 50% production. This variety does get a lot of bac. spot, but generally such a consistent producer of nice bigs good tasting peaches, I forgive that defect. Still the best peach immediately following the Encore window.

Autumnstar +43 About 5% production. Good tasting peach. Nice sized. But rarely sets full crop.

Victoria +45 Blank this year.

Autumnprince +70? I wanted to see if this climate would ripen this peach. A couple trees produced a few peaches. Still not sure, but I don’t think they will completely ripen here.

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Something to remember is all gardening is local. Olpea mentions that lucky 13 never produces. My problem with it every year is overproduction. The tree will only produce decent peaches if you thin heavily. The peach also this year was exceptional in flavor. I had an awesome peach year.
So no problems with production at all, in any way here. My 7th year growing this one. Although I myself like Red Haven better and this tree will be replaced by Red Haven when it’s time comes.

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The only thing I can report from this year’s unfortunate freeze is that Madison, Veteran and Redhaven all did modestly OK for me, which I’m beginning to expect even in bad years. I was happy to see them produce despite unfavorable conditions. Other than that, I got some nice, way overpriced Harbrite scions from UC Davis that took very well to everything I grafted them on to, including apricots. Don’t really know anything about the variety, but it seems like a good candidate for my area.

Thank you Olpea!

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I always appreciate your annual peach review. Thanks.

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Mark,

I always look forward to your peach report each year, there is so much good information. I realize it is some work to put it together every year - thank you for taking the time.

It is interesting for me to see how evaluations change over time as the trees get more mature and you get more experience with each variety. I find information about the varieties that perform poorly for you to be as useful as information about varieties that perform well. It is all very informative. Even this year, as brutal as the spring cold snap was, it provided another data point on late freeze resistance.

Thanks for continuing to share your experience.

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Mark,
Thank you for your annual report/evaluation. Always appreciate your contribution and advice.

I had pretty good year this year regarding peach production. Our spring freeze was not as severe as the midwest. Several of my peaches survived well to maturity.

Nectarines: Arctic Jay, Easternglo, Freckle Face and September Free. None suffered any significant damage.

Peaches: Autumn Star, Carolina Gold, PF 24 C, PF 25 and Saturn suffered little damage.

Baby Crawford, Foster, Red Baron, Winblo had more damage.

All my peaches were fully ripe so most tasted good to very good. The only awful tasting one was Red Baron. Two years in a row that it tasted bitter. If it continues to taste this bad next year, it will be grafted over.

By the way, let me take this opportunity to show off some of my late peaches :joy:

!

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For those who were impressed by the size of PF 25, please don’t. I left a water hose at the base of my multi-grafted peach tree for 5 hours!!! This resulted in gigantic peaches (some even cracked), including Foster, Red Baron, Winblo, PF 25, etc. (Autumn Star and PF 24 C trees did not get this mistreatment).

That’s why I could not accurately determine the taste of some of these varieties.

I had a peach taste testing the last week of Sept. Even being diluted, PF 25 won the taste (and texture) test. Made me wonder how much better this variety could be had it not ballooned up by excessive water.

By the time I held the test taste, some of these peaches were past their prime. It’s not really fair to compare them that day. I will try to have a better taste testing next year (and remember to turn the hose off).

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Thanks for sharing your evaluations with us, @Olpea . It is extremely helpful to me, and so many others I am sure!
I was perusing Schlabach’s catalog and noticed Harbinger is a new peach for them this year. The earliest peach, ripening before Harrow Diamond.
“Early July. Semi-freestone, bright red fruit. Medium size, good quality fruit. Melting texture. Flower buds are a hardy as Red Haven, and ripens 33 days sooner.”

Do you have any experience with this one, or know anything about it?

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I don’t have personal experience with Harbinger but all descriptions I have seen describe it as clingstone, not semi-freestone. Also many reports that it suffers badly from split pits (true for many early peaches). The fruit size is typically described as small rather than medium. Its positive qualities are hardiness, resistance to bacterial spot and a good flavor for an early peach.

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Thank you for that extra info Stan. It doesnt really sound like one I need to add!

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I’ve heard of harbinger, but never planted it. Actually I gave up on really early peaches because of all the issues here with them. My earliest peaches are in the Earlystar/Harrow Diamond window.

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@Olpea Mark,
I’ve seen you mentioned growing Wisconsin Balmer. Schlabach sells it this year. The description says “suitable for home use- fresh eating, freezing and canning. Hardy. Too soft and irregular for commercial use.”

The last sentence discourages me!!!

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Thanks Tippy. You’re right I have been trialing Wisconsin Balmer. It would have fruited this year for the first time, but its fruit got frosted off.

I assumed it had some baggage with it because of its rarity. A great peach generally stays popular.

Still, because of its purported consistent production, I wanted to trial Wisconsin Balmer. Does the Schlabach catalog say when it’s supposed to ripen?

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Thanks Olpea, that is helpful. I ordered a couple Harrow Diamond last year but they sold out. I am ordering them again this year, so hope I can get them.

Do you feel that you have a lot of pest pressures on your latest season peaches? It seems like the stink bugs increase on my brambles as the season progresses here, but I don’t have any late season peaches fruiting yet to know how they are affected. I am thinking about whether or not I want to add a few more, or if I should go with some mid season ones instead.
Right now I have a dozen peaches with a ripening window from Glenglo (hopefully Harrow Diamond going in this spring) to Autumnstar.

It says late Aug in Medina, NY.

Hope you can enlarge this pic to read the description. The word “irregular” concerns me.

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Thanks a lot Tippy. Sounds like it ripens with Contender.

I’m guessing the description of “irregular” means that the shape is irregular. Though it could mean irregular ripening. Irregular shape sometimes affects packing when a variety has a very pointy end. Irregular shape can also decrease customer appeal because it looks too asymmetrical.

Irregular shape doesn’t bother me too much since we don’t stack peaches. Shape doesn’t matter too much either, since it’s direct market.

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Typically we don’t have many pest issues with later season peaches. Rainfall is a lot less in late season vs. early season, although the heavy dews in the very late season can cause some rot. In terms of insects, we spray the peaches pretty frequently early in the season, so by the time mid and late season comes around, most of the pest insects are already dead.

In the last few years, we’ve had some problems with SWD in late season peaches. Mostly because by that time we have stopped picking up drops and stopped spraying, for the most part. We can tell when we are going to have issues with SWD because there will be clouds of the gnats flying around. They will lay eggs and pupate in drops.

When that happens we start picking the peaches just a bit earlier. If the peaches are a little firm, SWD can’t lay eggs in them.

I doubt SWD would affect a backyard orchard at all. There aren’t near the number of drops in a backyard orchard. Drops are the critical variable needed for SWD to successfully breed in a peach orchard.

Berries are a different matter. SWD will infect our cane berries, unless they are sprayed. Berries are thinner skinned, which is more favorable for SWD egg laying.

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Can it also mean irregular size (fruit size is all over the place)?

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I hope the irregularity is in shape, not in size!!!

I look forward to Mark’s report next year.

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