I’ve always thought that I can’t grow peaches in my part of the Bay Area with its bone-chilling summers, but I was just perusing Dave Wilson’s ripening chart which shows a bunch of varieties that supposedly ripen in May and June. Well, March through June are usually pleasantly warm in my parts (July onwards being damp and cold most of the day). If I select the right peach variety – low chill, early harvest – is quality fruit possible for me?
Any peach is going to need temperatures above 80F during the two months before ripening. 90F is even better.
I thought most of the bay area was warmest in August thru September. Maybe that’s parts south like Santa Barbara to San Diego where they talk of the June gloom.
The fruit ripens well in Vallejo for my early varieties of Nectarine and Peach although we get far less fog than downtown SF. Peach leaf curl and other pathogens have been really bad without regular spraying, sometimes entirely defoliating the trees and destroying fruit. My advice, if you don’t want to spray, don’t grow them. In fact I just topworked one of my peaches to a different cultivar that is supposed to be more resistant to PLC. I’m learning as I go. In the long run peaches just may not be in my future. Plums and many other fruits however grow fantastic here.
Okay, well that’s a deal-killer Spring is pleasant here but rarely close to 80. August - Sept are warm if you get over the hills, but on the coastal plains that’s peak fog time.
Good information though, thanks!
Hi Steven. In your experience do apricots also need 80-90 degree temperatures to develop best flavor?
Apricots don’t need as much heat as peaches. I’m not sure how much less will suffice but they are not a cool weather crop.
They’re not easy to grow, Only a few places in the country reliably produce apricots.
I’m growing a few peaches successfully in your climate, after several failures with other varieties (including a nectarine). They’re all curl-resistant, late-ripening, red-fleshed, and on Lovell stock:
Indian Blood (Cling)
The verdict is still pending on Peregrine, a white-fleshed English peach. It’s also curl-resistant but growing more slowly than the others, and has only produced a few fruit so far. I’m hoping for a better crop this year. It’s in a slightly less hospitable location than the others, which may account for some of its lack of vigor.
I tried various apricots several times here, and finally gave up a couple of years ago. All eventually died due to eutypa, late freezes, or random mystery ailments, and I only got a handful of fruit.
You’re right, at least for coastal Marin County. We usually have an Indigenous Person’s Summer that runs from roughly mid-September to Mid-October, and that’s when we get our warmest and clearest weather.
Don’t tell the tourists, please.
My home is in a ‘sweet spot’ between coastal fog and the central valley ‘blast furnace’. As summer temps rise in the valley, the rising air sucks cool Pacific air right through our little valley creating a cooling afternoon breeze. We do get some temperature spikes in May before that ventilator kicks in.
As you may have gathered from my previous posts, I am a peach and nectarine fanatic with about 16 varieties of them total. I keep most of them small and planted 4’ apart (If I were to do it again I would give a bit more space). Since my wife and I are mostly interested in fresh fruit, the staggered harvest dates give us more or less continuous harvest. I have a four foot 5 year old Earlitreat Peach that, if I can keep the critters away from them, gives us a nice harvest of delicious peaches. Last year I was picking them on May 24. Two of my new acquisitions, a Sauzee Swirl peach and Arctic Babe nectarine produced a single fruit each, harvested June 3 and June 12 respectively. The peach might have sweetened more if left for a few more days, but it was better than any store bought peach. For anyone with a climate like mine, those would be good early varieties.
Incidentally, there is one nectarine I am dying to add to my collection, the Honey Spring Yellow nectarine. I know you really like the Honey Nectarine series, so I wonder if you have had a chance to try it.
Anyway, I want to thank you for all the advice you have provided over the years.
Haven’t tried that one. DWN has become very protective of new material. I can’t get anything more than anyone else at this point. But what I have fills the season nicely, Honey Lite/Fire to Honey Diva. The really high quality fruit is just as good dried. So I can enjoy some even in winter.
I’m in the San Mateo hills and get the coastal fog every summer evening. I grow Babcock peach and Artic Star (low acid) nectarine. Both do very well without lots of days over 80. Both ripen early to late June. PLC is an issue and you really have to stay on top of it.