Harvested my single Indian Free peach

As I’ve posted before, winter killed most peach blossoms in my NE location this year. Most of the scattering of peaches were hard to protect because it was a tough year to keep such a meager crop from hungry animals and insects. Birds were the main problem on my site and I won’t throw up a net without a significant harvest to defend.

Indian Free doesn’t attract the attention as much more brightly colored modern varieties, so this single peach was never pecked by birds even though all the other peaches were long gone by the time it was ready to pick.

For growers that love acid snap with their sugar this is an exceptional peach. Its beautiful red marbled flesh also proves that inner beauty is what really matters.

Scot has suggested that this variety is highly susceptible to brown rot, but here, where it ripens so late (picked this one yesterday) it hasn’t been prone to rot at all- YET. None of the peaches I’ve grown that ripen after mid-Sept have tended to rot, even though I rarely apply fungicide to peaches after July.

Further south, any given variety will likely ripen sooner so growers should pay attention to the region fruit is being grown when determining the relevance of evaluations. Temperatures make as much difference as timing of rainfall when it comes to brown rot.



Thanks for the report since I now have an idea of what I might be looking forward to around this time next year since I planted mine in the spring of '15 on citation rootstock. If you don’t mind I’d like to ask you a couple of questions about Indian Free. Would you say that you picked the peach at about the right time or would you say that you were a little early or late? Does it have a cranberry taste to it or not which Scott has described it as being? Is this a freestanding tree that you have or a grafted branch and how old is it?


It is an entire tree in its forth year and I got a dozen fruit from it last year and could have had a bushel this one (with a little cooperation from our cruel mother). I believe its on peach seedling- that is always my first choice for peaches here as there is no advantage to citation to me except with E. plums. Peaches can be kept pretty compact on any rootstock, IME, and there is certainly no need to accelerate bearing. If the tree had come with more root I would have accelerated cropping by a year.

The peach had softened on one side and was completely ready to harvest as there were no hard parts to it. It seems it ripened its fruit a bit later last year, but spring came 2 weeks later that season. I don’t know if I’d describe it as cranberry flavor or just peachy with a sharp tang. I will think about that the next time I have a crop. Scot tends to do a more thoughtful job of those types of evaluations than I do. He grows so many varieties that he has more need to.

This peach also functions very well as a culinary purposes because the flesh is firm and the acid always helps. It is also beautiful when sliced. I bet I could charge NY chefs a fortune for a bushel.

I only began harvesting late types of peaches that crop after mid-Sept 4 years ago when White Heath first cropped here. White Heath is a work horse but I don’t know how productive Indian RF is yet.

I tend to endorse varieties about 5 years prematurely. It is a bit like proposing marriage when you are in the second month of infatuation. I’m not sure yet if this is a tree I want to spend the rest of my life with but if it turns out to be consistently productive I can’t imagine changing my mind about it.

I continue to be puzzled by last winter events. It was not a harsh winter, in fact in Michigan it was one of the three or four mildest in the last 20 years. The two winters prior it fell into the -20F range, both times eliminating the peach crop. As a result, this year it was an absolute bumper crop for peaches. but the point is, even in New England it was not that cold and yet there were widespread losses.

It was peaches that were lost during winter. The flower buds never completely hardened off and I noticed during the winter that they were fatter than would be normally, which I assume was because they didn’t shuttle out water for deep freeze protection as they do in a “normal” winter. The cells of the flower buds burst when we hit -12 because the trees were where they’d normally be in early spring- on the verge of first growth. About 20 miles south of me it didn’t get quite cold enough to do the same damage except in cold spots.

When the Jap plums were in full bloom in early spring we had a hard frost that got down to 17 on my property- the lowest I’ve ever seen it at that phenology. That wiped out most J. plums, some E. plums and early flowering apples and most peach flowers that survived the winter event.

Two extremely unusual events in one season. Guess I can count on ten years of smooth sailing now, right?

My Indian Free is not ripe yet. About 9 days, it’s close! The next 9 days look great here too! I expect about 30 peaches. More than last year. It did get down to -16F here one night, but only maybe 10% of the fruit buds died, a good thinning! It’s a small tree on citation which is keeping it really small. It also has canker though. It should live though a few more years before it succumbs. Next time on Lovell! My peaches show some damage from squirrels and opossum’s, they damaged about 10 fruit. I still should get 30 all the same. I think it does have a slight cranberry taste, I love this fruit. No brown rot problems either. I’ll show harvest when ready. The fruits are big this year for Indian Free, which is a small to medium fruit. Most of mine are medium, so bigger than last year as most were small.

Much of the Eastern U.S. suffered from a series of terrible late freeze events this past April. It threw our crops for a loop.

Matt is right. It was true that last winter was mild but the low in the teen ( @ 17 F in my yard) for a few days in early April wiped out all peaches, nects and many plums in MA and our neighboring states.

I lost some this year too, but not all and Indian Free fruited fairly well this year.

I don’t think so. I had the same 17 degrees, but the day before I checked my peaches because of the forecast and the flower buds were already dead. Peaches are a bit later than J. plums and even they weren’t completely wiped out by the frost, even though they were in full bloom. At that point the peaches were pushing green but there simply were almost no viable flower buds.

It doesn’t really matter what did it, but if you didn’t check your flower buds before the hard frost you are only guessing. I bet you had the same mild winter and the same approximately -12 late winter night I had here, given your april frost was the same temp as mine.

What made you think I was guessing? My orchard is only a few steps from my house. I check it often, almost daily. I may not do much in the winter but this past winter was mild. By end of March early April I had already walked my orchard. I checked peaches and plum buds before and after the frost.

Satsuma buds turned brown almost immediately after. Shiro survived and bloomed but no cross pollination. I was hopeful that some peaches might make it but none did.

I also keep notes on unusual weather like we had light frost on 9/26/16 night and last night. I don’t rely on just my memory.

So you checked your peach flower buds before the hard frost? Were they starting to open, as they should have been? The thing is, I know when my peach blossoms were frozen but I have no way to know how everyone else was affected, but I feel pretty sure much of the northeastern peach crop was wiped out by the winter freeze. If your orchard tells you a different story than you are going to believe differently.

Here when it got to 17 for you guys it was 21 or 22F here. Plus mine were farther behind, just showing pink, no open flowers for anything. One peach produced no fruit. Most plums except for some pluots, didn’t fruit either. I had about 5 pluots this year. The animals got them all, I didn’t even get a taste. I’ll have the tree protected next year. The trees were all sprayed with wilt stop too.

I did checked them. They were not close to open. I do agree with you that most could have been killed by winter freeze in Feb but not all. I saw signs of life some on some buds before the April freeze but not after.

Satsuma buds were close to open and turned brown after the April freeze.