Peaches in Maine

Here are some recent pictures of our Reliance and Red Haven peaches…

Our Contender peaches are still small and green.


Reliance is an excellent peach for Kansas as well. Yours really look nice!

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Very Nice, pretty.


Wow, how did you escape spring frost? I did not have a single flower on peach tree - and I am in Massachusetts. The winter was too warm, spring had a killing frost…

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We really lucked out. I think that the fruit buds waited just long enough to open and the temps were just warm enough for the trees to escape damage. I know that I was on pins and needles for a few of those nights. Our location is also pretty windy and almost 600 fee above sea level.


Here is some of our Reliance crop…

And some of my mother’s peach preserves…


Those look delicious. Have you made any peach ice cream?

I was considering adding a cold hardy peach like Reliance, Contender, or Madison. I don’t know if you grow Madison, but how would you rate the other two as far as flavor and sweetness, especially compared to a standard variety like Redhaven?

I think @Olpea has grown these as well, so I’d like folks’ opinions on these cold hardy varieties. Thanks.

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@maineorchard - those are the very definition of perfect peaches. Not a bug bite, not a single bacterial spot, etc. For you to do all that as far north as you are should give lots of people here hope. Well done!

@subdood_ky_z6b - forgive me for jumping in on a question you asked Mainorchard, but having grown 3 of the 4 peaches you asked about, I’d thought I’d throw my 2 cents in. I’m no expert grower but I at least can answer questions about taste comparisons. For me- and of course a lot of this is just personal taste preference- I actually like red baven taste better than contender or reliance. Mine were sweeter and just had a more “peachy” taste. I don’t how to tell you what that means other than to say it has a stronger peach flavor (I think part of it is that its slightly more acidic-just slightly- though not close to being most acidic I grow). Contender and reiance were just a little more bland for me. Not a bad taste, just not a big taste at all. THe one thing I want to tell you is that I definately have not experienced contender or reliance being the least bit more cold hardy in the 4 years I’ve grown all 4 (I don’t grow madison). I know they are touted for that by most everyone so it must be true elsewhere. All I can say is I’ve had trees that produced the same year contender and reliance both froze out. I know that doesn’t help you at all but I thought I’d share my experience so you don’t make your selection 100% on the cold hardiness of those 2 trees since I don’t think its much if any better than others. I have others say the same thing.


Thanks Kevin. I think that’s what you’ve told me in the past, but guess I forgot. What are the other varieties that you have? I do have a Redhaven, and Coralstar. The reason I’m asking about the three that I did, is partly the UK ag system recommends them, and we have had some really cold winters the last couple of years, and I just to make sure they can survive the winters. But, I know that that also depends in the rootstock, too.

Man, those look good. The peach preserves too. Congrats!

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Thank-you everyone.

Subdood…I grow Reliance, Contender and Redhaven. I like Redhaven the most as well…just seems to have the best overall taste, sweetness and appearance. The only negative is that RH had less fruit than the other 2. Reliance did have a pretty rich flavor and seems to be a great peach to cook with. I have not made peach ice cream yet.

Contender are still to come…I’ll have more pics soon.

Cityman…I weeded the damaged ones out. Overall, it was a nice crop though. Thanks again.

Hopefully, these pictures will inspire some Northern growers on here. Just make sure that your site is high with decent air flow, well drained, and don’t forget to fertilize!

Spring frost is not what wiped out a lot of the peaches in the northeast, IMO. I believe it was the exceptionally mild temps preceding one very cold winter night where we got to -12 F here. I checked the peach buds shortly before the early spring hard, hard frost and they were already dead- most Jap plums were already in full bloom, so it was probably the frost that did them in even though many of the flowers continued to look good and produced pollen- the ovaries must have been fried. E plums have performed much better this season.

The peach crop has been spotty and unpredictable in terms of sites that have them around here. It doesn’t fall in the usual pattern- this time sites in low spots sometimes have crop while sites nearby on hilltops don’t. However, the only peaches on my property were on trees planted at the highest spots.

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We are just about done harvesting Madison. Madison has a lot of peach flavor, but overall, I thought Contender was a bit sweeter this year. I used to grow Reliance, but don’t have it anymore.

Contender has the obnoxious habit of growing straight up, but it produced some nice big peaches this year that customers really liked.

Madison is a harder peach to sell because the color is so poor, but because of it’s reliability and easy growth, I’m surprised I don’t hear more recommendations for it as a backyard peach.

Did you have brown rot problems with reliance? They are a problem at one location on my property and completely free of it at another. Wondered why you got away from growing them? They require a lot of thinning and are a bit sour but wondered what your reason was?

All looks fantastic! No deer or squirrel problems? Guess not!


I saw the same productivity with Reliance (very productive). That’s the nice thing about these cold hardy peaches. They produce, as evidenced by Maineorchard’s photos. I got rid of it because the quality wasn’t that great here. It ripens just a few days after Redhaven and Redhaven is pretty much just as regular here as Reliance.

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I think that is why Madison is not so popular as a home orchard peach. It is a good peach and can be great at sites conducive to high brix, but there are better peaches now for less than optimum sites- mainly sites with too much access to lots of moist soil. Madison is just an average tasting peach in my orchard but my 25 year old tree is still pushing out plenty of vigorous new wood all along the scaffolds. Keeping it reasonably pruned this season has required frequent sessions due to the lack of crop- but that’s true of all my peaches and most nects.

I agree with that statement. If we hadn’t gotten the 70 degree warm stretch between the two cold stretches I think we’d all be eating more peaches this year. That warm stretch was extensive enough to fatten up those buds.

I planted Madison in the late 70s in Amarillo because of it’s resistance to spring freezes. But it was a mediocre peach and soon got dropped. Of those early freeze tolerant plantings I liked Surecrop and Redskin better. I do think they had some resistance but most yrs it didn’t matter much. I did make a hand full of peaches one yr after two nights in a row at 13F after bloom started.

Yes, I noticed well before the cold that flower buds were fatter than normal for winter time. When they contain too much water the cells are more likely to burst from extreme cold, like an overfull balloon. I assume the flower buds looked fat because their cells contained an unusually high amount of water. I think I now understand why Olpea loses crop in less extreme temps than what usually destroys peach crops here. This is the stuff you can only learn on this forum.