Observations of stonefruit in bloom this season

This winter was mostly good for fruit growers in my region. Relatively steady cold winter followed by a cool and late spring. My main point of concern was a single very cold night (early morning) when temps seemed to drop to about -13F.

In the 90’s this was about an average low and the varieties I grew then didn’t suffer much damage from such a temp occurring in the middle of winter without preceding unusual warmth. Preceding temps were steadily cold this season. However, I’m growing a lot of varieties now that haven’t much history in the NE and here are my observations.

Desiree is a very early yellow peach of good quality and size for an early, but the tree in my orchard was actually killed as was a Mayfire I planted last year that had grown very well in its first season- dead to the ground. Desirees in other orchards I manage sometimes had all flowers killed, but mine is the only dead one I’ve noticed so far.

Winblo and O’Henry seem to be the only peach varieties with serious flower bud kill- they have enough bloom left to hopefully supply a light crop without any thinning needed.

The latest peach to bloom is Heath Cling with Indian Free coming in second in delayed bloom. Flavor May was the first to bloom and has plenty of flowers.

All of my many nectarines have as many flowers in bloom right now as possible- none show any affect of the low temp night, which surprises me as I’m growing some that are only proven in the West. I seem to have finally figured out how to manage Honey Royale for blossoms instead of wood. Lots of summer pruning of most vigorous shoots seems to have done the trick. Now let’s see if I can actually bet some high, high brix nects from it. Without very high brix its low acid fruit leaves me flat, but when sugar gets into the 20’s it is like a whole nother variety of fruit for me- not better than lower brix types, just very different to my palate.

There is very little gap between J and E plums this season- everything is in hyper-drive because of the late spring and the current summer temps. With all the bees tending trees right now, only the apricot crop may have been damaged by early spring’s cold temps.

Whether there was damage to the ovaries of these ample blooms I see remains to be seen. The bees are certainly not concerned- all the pollen is enough for them.


All of the Honey Blaze peaches (I think they are peaches and not nects) in my nursery are also dead- most Desiree survived so Honey Blaze is probably not suited for the NE.

Thanks for the report. I always find it interesting peaches/nects in the NE can tolerate more cold. We got down to -9F on two different occasions this winter and plenty of varieties were hit really hard. O’henry and Winblo were likewise two of them. Ernies Choice (which ripens with Winblo) set considerably more fruit this year.

I’ve been trying to weed out these quasi-productive peaches these last few years. I probably won’t get rid of Winblo, just not add any more. I’ve been planting some Intrepid as a possibility for that window.

I am actively looking for a replacement for O’henry. It’s just too fickle in my area.

This looks also to be the first year I might have some Honey Royale nects. I’ve been wanted to see how they taste up here, ever since Fruitnut first sung it’s praises. Unlike Honey Blaze (which didn’t work here) it ripens in the dry part of our summer, so it will be interesting to see how it tastes.

I’ve not heard of a Honey Blaze peach. Is it possible it’s a mislabel?

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It’s a Zaiger nectarine.


I have quite a few peach blossoms, but mostly Saturn. I think my coldest was around that -13F …give or take a couple.

I have a correction. Pretty much all the blooms ended falling off the one Honey Royale tree. Maybe 1/2 dozen left. Who knows if they will stay. Plan on removing this tree for sure.

Here’s a pic of one of the blooms (petal fall)


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Have you ever noticed that J plums also put out quite a bit of nectar? Am I seeing things? Last year, even though the ovaries were dead, I thought I could see lots of nectar beaded up inside the flowers of my hybrids. This year most of the ovaries are alive, the weather is way warmer, and even with wind I had a nice swarm of what appeared to be entirely native bees.

We got to sub -20F possibly -25F briefly. I don’t see any movement on my Redhaven for blooms. But I did force a couple branches that had a couple flowers bloom. So I must have cut off the 2 viable flowers. Ha!


Our low this winter was -12F. I have a good handful of cold hardy peach trees and most had at least 50% bud kill. Here are the estimated flower bud survival rates I’ve observed: Veteran 30%, Redhaven 10%, Madison 40%, McKay 40%, Indian Free 40%, Reliance 25%, Mary Jane 10%, Contender 70%, Avalon Pride 0%. We had a very dry and hot second half of the summer, about an inch or so of rain for each month (July, August and September). I have my trees planted in mounds so a dry spell is probably harder on them. I only watered them once. Maybe that affected the peach tree flower buds. Despite the lower level of blooms, I still may get a modestly decent amount of peaches from each tree if nothing else major goes wrong.

Hybrid plums like Toka, Superior and Kaga were loaded 100% with blooms. See here–> Blooms - #58 by ztom
My 4 year old Jerseycot had lots of blooms for the first time. Asian plums Au Rosa and Early Golden had a small handful of blooms, Shiro had a good amount. Euro plums President, Castleton, Jefferson, Damson, Cambridge Gage and Early Laxton all had a good amount of blooms. Rosy Gage and Green Gage have some. Vision and Valor grafts have many. Blue Byrd, Geneva Mirabelle and Opal don’t seem to have any yet and may not end up having any at all. Once again, Jefferson was way earlier than any other Euro plum.

Lapins cherry has less blooms than last year when it fruited quite a bit, but still has some. Black Gold cherry has a good amount. White Gold cherry has some but is a small tree. My tart cherries are just now starting to show color. Surefire tart cherry does seem to be the latest blooming stone fruit tree for me.

Some additional notes: Labrusca grapes are just now starting to push buds. I have two Paw Paw trees that have a good amount of flower buds for the first time, but haven’t opened yet. Those trees are still small (4ft tall, 5/8" caliper). Apple tree blooms just starting to show some color. Gooseberries look like they’ve already formed tiny, tiny fruitlets. Mulberries not doing much yet. Asian pears just now starting to bloom.


My Danube sour cherry tree is in bloom. This year is its last chance (@mamuang may already have gotten rid of hers and I’m not sure about @Olpea). Plenty of flowers for the 3rd or 4th year in a row, so if it doesn’t set a decent number of cherries, it will be out next spring. I had a bunch of 1-2 year old sweet cherry grafts on it and all of them seem to have died this winter, which seems pretty strange.

One other interesting thing I noticed. The bloom density on the Jilin Asian pear graft is much lower than the rest of the tree (other varieties). I didn’t pay enough attention to it last year, but maybe that is why they were so much better than the other pears- self-thinning. I need to check out the other places I have it grafted to see if it holds everywhere.

Lots of plum and peach flowers this year. Flavor Supreme is a bit lighter than the other pluots, but still had quite a few. A lot of my 2nd year DWN pluots have a few flowers each, so I’m watching those closely, hoping for a first taste.

I hope your Danube gets the message. I don’t miss mine. It is a waste of space. Best use for it was for ornamental as it bloomed very well. Fruit set was abysmal . And I don’t have room for ornamental trees in sunny spots.

I have one Jubileum and one Danube in my back yard. Tippy’s right, they bloom great, but Danube hasn’t produced much. Jubileum has produced much better.

I put in 20 Danube at the farm last year, but decided to graft most of those over to Jubileum.

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I have not noticed reduction in blooms of peaches or nectarines this year. They all seem to bloom well. The coldest days were 0, -4, -5, -9 F, all were btween Jan 1-7 this year. Not the coldest temp we had and the timing was not too bad, either. It would be bad if it were in late Feb or March.

All J. plums, hybrids and pluots I grafted on my Shiro and Satsuma have bloomed. Shiro has 17 varieties on it.

For E plums, Coe’s and Castleton are blooming moderately. Mirabelle, Parfume de Septembre has only few blooms this year after blooming like crazy last year.

You can see the different clearly.


Mirabelle Parfume de Septembre. The blooms on it are mostly from other varieties grafted on it. I swear it goes biennial on me this year.


This year we had the lowest of -20 F. The only trees with damaged flowerbuds were peaches and Pixie apricot. All other apricot varieties had plenty of blooms. Pixie lost about 80% of blooms, but still will have the moderate crop of apricots if they survive the frosts. Mary Jane, Avalon’s Pride and several newer grafted varieties had zero blooms. Frost, Salish Summer and Tango have sporadic flowers and about 75% or more of bud loss. Surprisingly, Maria’s golden peach grafted last year flowered very prolifically, the only blooming branches on the multigrafted tree.


In SE Michigan the lows for the winter were -1F. Everything looks fantastic. Now to keep it that way! Many of the grafts from last year have bloomed too, Been grafting up a storm this week, not even close to finished.

It must be nice to live somewhere warm, my apricot blooms just opened yesterday, plums still tight. We were close to -20 in Jan most of the peaches have live buds, not open yet but look promising, in fact everything looks good this year, last year the Jap plums didn’t bloom due to warm/cold weather in Jan, but we got lots of peaches and Euro plums. Alan is right, it it gets cold and stays cold the trees are much more hardy than warm/cold/warm/cold, ultimate hardiness depends on the conditions before the test.



This my observation as well. Some people worry about coldest temp, but it is the warm/cold/warm/cold events that are more damaging to fruit buds IMO.

Here is my Westcot apricot yesterday…the first tree to bloom. I’ll have more pictures soon.


Honey Diva, Fire, Gem, Haven, Kist, Lite, May and Spring also exist.
These are all nectarine like Royale and Blaze.

I have to admit, the only winter we had temps -20 and a little lower there was virtually no peach crop- peach trees were killed north of me where it reached temps below -25. Maybe somehow the further north you are the more coldhardy buds tend to be.

In those pictures they look much more like peach than cot. Westcot seems to have unusually pink blooms for a cot. Al my varieties have white blossoms.

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