Best peaches for Zone 5?

Does anyone have some favorite tasting peaches for Zone 5?

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Contender, hands down. Hard shape now but an older tree that gave me several years a couple of 5 gallon buckets. Late winter is very hard on peach trees in Maine unless sited and protected carefully. Veteran would not ripen for me. Reliance did grow and fruit for awhile and many have had better luck with it. Georgia Belle was hardy and did fruit but was in a shady spot so died out. I plan to try some others.

Schlabach’s Nursery is a good source. They list for 2017:
Reliance: Zones 4-8
Contender: Zones 5-8
Veteran: Zones 4-8
Madison: Zones 5-8
Encore: Zones 4-8

These have an asterisk next to them as being the hardiest. While they have another 10 or 12 varieties also listed as being zone 5, those do not show the asterisk sign.

I bought from them last year. And they sent the best roots I got compared to Bay Laurel Nursery and Stark Brothers. I won’t complain about Bay Laurel or Stark, however. All three sent excellent grafts/good roots.

These are Amish folks. To get a catalog: 585 798 6198 (Medina, NY)


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Thank you, Bberry. I’m now looking for Contender. :slight_smile: We planted Reliance a year or so ago. Seems to have taken well. What zone are you in? What type of soil do you have?

Thank you for the info about Schlabach’s. I wasn’t aware of them and appreciate info about quality rootstock. So important. Do they also carry semi-dwarf rootstock?

No they graft all their peaches/nectarines/apricots on Lovell.

Apples: dwarf or semi
Cherries: “size controlled Krymsk - 60% - 70% standard size)”
Pears: standard
Plums: standard


Which is an awesome rootstock! The only semi-dwarf for peach I know of is citation and here in Michigan it seems to be a canker magnet. I will never buy a tree on citation again.

Sweet (between edits:) adding Necs and Apricots to the sentence.

Good to know. Thank you, Drew.


OK. Thank you!

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I have a buddy in Farley, IA which is cold as snot growing Contender. He sent photos of a table covered with Contender peaches. And wow did they look good. He said they are excellent!


Dax: That’s great feedback. Im looking for tasty peaches.

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Contender is excellent. I do want to say that Veteran did fruit and a few would ripen but most years the frost would hit them in the fall. Not as good taste wise as Contender and did not size up as well. I have Red Haven now and it should also be as hardy as Contender. I am on the coast of Maine and zone 5 and it is colder and harsher than the Portland area. I want to graft a few peaches every year because they seem to be short lived here. After a mild winter they can be very productive so it is about a 2 out of 5 on productive years. Others to try might be Intrepid and the hardy one from Paul Flame. although I lost that one. I would prefer the full size and most vigorous of the rootstocks.

Thank you, Bberry. The only peach we have planted is Reliance. We are located more inland, on the wooded side of Scarborough.

Are Reliance and Contender both self-pollinating? Which was your best tasting peach? How do you protect or shelter them in Maine?

I have Contender, Reliance & Red Haven here in Albion (about 10 miles East of Waterville). About 50 Contender & Reliance trees will be going into their 6th growing season. 2 Red Haven will be going into their 4th growing season. Biggest problem has been canker…have had to replace some trees because of it. Leaf curl was very bad last summer but that is my fault for skipping the Kocide (copper) spraying schedule.

As far as the peaches go…had heavy Reliance & Contender crops last season. Red Haven…had a small crop. Buds are a little less hardy than the other 2. For best results plant trees on highest & windiest site that you can!


  1. Red Haven - Quintessential peach taste. Very juicy.
  2. Contender - Good peach taste. Mild but aromatic taste. More “solid” flesh.
  3. Reliance - Very “strong” tasting…almost an apricot-like flavor mixed with peach. A smaller fruit that ripens very quickly and has shorter shelf life. Great for cooking/canning.

Thanks for this feedback! 50 peach trees. Wow! Do you have a pick your own orchard?

Yes, we have about 130 trees with another 150 Contender and Red Haven going in this spring. We are on Facebook: Bessey Ridge Farms.

I ordered Contender from Raintree. A bit expensive but that variety was hard to find. Red Haven are coming from Stark Bros.

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I 2nd reliance, I tasted them for the first time last year on my tree, man are they good!

That makes sense and thank you for sharing your expertise with me.

Do any of you grow apricots, too? I’m looking for a source of Tomcott and Orangered trees.

I have Redhaven and Contender growing. I had my first peaches in 2016. It was a good year for peaches here. I am in zone 5b. I did have to cover the trees because of a late frost. That is not uncommon here in my area.