Peaches in Middle TN?


After the crop failures this year and even before that having a hard time finding good peaches I want to grow my own. I am thinking I’d like ~3 trees. The ones from California just don’t cut it - same with white peaches.

I prefer yellow peaches with the acid to help balance the sweet. I have read a lot on brown rot on these as well, not sure if that is an issue here or not.

Can some of the experience growers in the area recommend a few varieties that will produce lots of delicious peaches for me? It may also be nice to stagger the crop over the summer as well to extend my harvesting time.



@thecityman (Kevin) @RobThomas, @zazlev (Zack), and @tennessean (Sam) are in TN, so they could give you the best answers. I’m in in NE Kentucky, so my advice prob wouldn’t matter.

But, saying that I think Contender is a good start, with frost hardy buds. I planted one of those here this year for that reason. Kevin had good luck I believe with Contender this year. He’s tried to grow white peaches and had more issues with them compared to yellow varieties. Of course he would need to say for sure what has or hasn’t worked for him.

Redhaven would prob be a good choice as well.


Big Red and Elbera is what I have in upper Middle TN (Clarksville). Still way to early to give any analysis. This summer will be only the 2nd summer. The trees look great though. Only time will tell. Picked them for their mid to late harvesting and possible miss those late frosts.


Jones Orchard near Millington TN lists the following varieties with date of ripening:

Variety	         Availability
Flavorich	        June 1
Surecrop	        June 10
Garnet Beauty	June 15
Redhaven   	July 1
White Nectar	July 5
Intrepid       	July 10
Loring	        July 15
Contender	        July 20	
    Redskin	        July 30
Georgia Belle	July 30
Elberta	        Aug 1
Indian Cling	Aug 5
Legend	        Aug 15
Sun Prince	Aug 16
Parade	        Aug 26
Autumn Prince	Sept 8


I’m always impressed with @subdood_ky_z6b (Bob’s) memory, and he has once again done a very good job at remembering and conveying my experiences here in middle Tennessee (I’m about 25 minutes north of Nashville between Springfield, Portland, and Franklin, KY…where are you?)

As Bob said, I have found white peaches to be far more problematic. Bugs like them better, birds like them better, diseases like them better, and pretty much every other bad thing is worse on the white peaches. I have managed to bring a few to fruition, but I’ve found them not to be as sweet as some white peaches I’ve had elsewhere. In short, I suggest you not even try white ones but it sounded like you’d already decided that for yourself. :slight_smile:

I do like contender very much. Not only because they yield a good looking good tasting peach, but because they really are - as you’ve probably read- more cold resistant. This past season we had a late frost and I lost almost all my peaches except the contenders- which still had so many that I had to thin them heavily.

Red Haven’s have been good to me, as well. But honestly, almost all the yellow peaches on my tree list (click on my username and there is a list in my profile) have done pretty well in years without a late frost. In fact, I urge you not to be too pessimistic about peaches in our area. There are 3 PYO orchards within 10 miles of me that do well and I do quite well myself with them if I keep my spray schedule up. But that last statement is no small detail. I honestly believe I have greater insect pressure (both OFM and PC and others) than almost anyone here (I am sure others don’t feel that way, but I sure do!) and I have to spray my trees about every 10 days. Some here say that is too often, could be unhealthy, etc but if I don’t I loose massive numbers of fruit in just a few nights. So far more than variety, soil, fertilize, even weather, I urge you to pay special attention to spraying! If you do that, I think you’ll be happy with the peaches you can get.

Good luck. Feel free to reach out any time. Us Middle Tennesseans have to stick together! :slight_smile:


Dont want to derail this thread too much, but how would you rate your 4 blackberries as far as taste and production?

You mentioned Contender, but what are your other favorite peaches that you grow?


I’ve become somewhat disillusioned with Blackberries and just don’t enjoy them that much. I’ve had good results in terms of getting good harvests and large berries, but I have a terrible time keeping them clean/weed free and they are all quite sour. If I had to pick a favorite I’d say Ouachita, but to be honest none of my 4 varieties are a lot better or different from the others. I also acknowledge, though, that none of mine are known for being outstanding I don’t think. I’d love to try some Prime Ark Freedom or some of the others people on here talk about.

My favorite peaches, as it turns out, will be no surprise at all. Basically the most well known varieties are the ones I like best. Contender, Red Haven, Elberta, Reliance are all well known and also my personal favorites. If I had to pick one favorite it might be J.H. Hale. They are the biggest peach I grow, taste good, and produce well.

My other favorite is an early peach you’ve probably seen me rave about before…but since it was here when I moved in I don’t know what kind it is. But they always ripen the first week of June, which just amazes me, and still taste really good (admittedly not quite as good as later peaches but still wonderful)

I need to add one thing while I’m talking about my peaches here in middle TN. This really has caused me to do a lot of reading and wondering, but I don’t get it. I’m referring to the fact that I have terrible experiences growing very late season peaches like fairtime and indian free. The trees themselves just do awful…they grow extremely slow, look very unhealthy, and often die. I don’t know if its my soil or weather or what. I wish I did know. Oh well, just thought it was worth mentioning.

Here’s hoping we don’t have a late freeze this year. Better yet, lets hope we have our last freeze REALLY early so I can even get a few apricots- something that has only happened once in 5 years for me!


@drewk Since you sounded a bit pessimistic about growing peaches in Middle TN, I wanted to show you one of my harvests last year. They aren’t the biggest or most perfect peaches, but it does show what is possible right here in our area.

BTW…I forgot to address your question about Brown Rot. For 3 years I had very little of it, but this year it arrived In force and completely wiped out every single piece of fruit on some trees. But I didn’t spray for it. Hopefully this year I’ll keep it at bay.


Hey welcome Drew, what a great name! :slight_smile:

Glad to see you here. If you research the site you will find loads of info on how to fight brown rot.

@thecityman Blackberries are tough, I agree with your assessment. I have found if you let them hang till the calyx is brown and crumbly they are at their sweetest. The berry should fall off, if you have to pull it’s not ripe.
the sweetest I have found are tayberries. They too have to hang a bit. When I made a smoothie of them for my wife she thought they were strawberries. It is a raspberry-blackberry hybrid and it tastes more like a raspberry than blackberry.
Yet the taste is not a raspberry, unique strawberry-like. Only Loganberry is like that too, although I heard the flavor is bland. Not so with tayberries, delicious!
I removed most of my cultivars this fall. I kept tayberries, wyeberries, New Berry, Marion, Boysenberry and Darrow, an old east coast traditional blackberry that is winter hardy for breeding. New Berry to me is the best blackberry as it has hints of raspberry flavor, not like tayberry though. It is sour till fully ripe.
A wyeberry is a larger boysenberry type. I like both of these for jam, not fresh eating. They are tart but have an excellent flavor for leather, syrup, jam, and vodka infusions.
The problem with my choices is they are all trailing (except Darrow) so need a trellis for sure, and all of them have wicked thorns. I went strictly on flavor.Seems I like the flavor of trailing thorny blackberries.
I got rid of 6 or 7 thornless cultivars. They are OK fully ripe, but to me they have an after taste I do not like at all. Loch Ness was very sweet, but I got sick of them easy. Fully ripe they are very sweet. Good production too. Still the taste had no wow factor, unlike all I kept that certainly do have a wow factor if picked ripe. If picked under ripe, nothing special.


Thanks for all of the great info!

I didnt mean to come off as pessimistic, we has peach trees as a kid and rarely do I remember anyone spraying them or anything apart from trying to keep deer away. The biggest threat to them seemed to be deer. No idea what variety they were though.

The contender definitely seems like a great one to try along with a Red Haven. I’ll have to pick a 3rd variety too - I may do an Elberta as I’m sure there is some reason that a majority of commercial peaches in GA/SC are this variety.

Any suggestions on recommended nurseries or ones to avoid?

Is it fine to plant them in the winter so that they can become acclimated and begin to grow healthily in the spring?

Great harvest there! That just makes me crave some peaches even more…



I looked on your profile (amazing amount of fruit cultivars btw - 20 varieties of peaches/nects, holy cow, you are becoming a regular peach aficionado)

Anyway I noticed the blackberries you’ve grown. I’ve tried all of those (the Chesters I haven’t grown myself but have tried them from another local blackberry grower). Imo, most of those aren’t the sweetest (although Apache is pretty good to me, if picked dead ripe). The others aren’t worth growing, imo.

My favorite is Triple Crown. It’s not quite as big as Apache, but sweeter. I’ve also found Triple Crown very competitive against weeds. I do use Sinbar as a pre-emergent, but they are still very competitive where I don’t use Sinbar (here at the house). They are crazy vigorous.

They probably aren’t as sweet as some of the ones Drew mentioned, but I think all of those are trailing types (as Drew mentioned - plus thorns don’t work for my application) and probably wouldn’t be hardy at my location.

Here’s a pic of Triple Crown I took last summer, 2016 (grass needs mowed but the berries were fairly clean).


Here’s a closer pic I took this summer.

I keep them pruned to about 3 to 4’. They fill in fairly quickly and dense. These get the Sinbar treatment, but the ones at the house don’t look too bad (without Sinbar).

I’ll admit though, blackberries in general aren’t as sweet as peaches.


Wow! Nicely done Kevin.


Hey Drew…good to hear from you. I should have expected that you’d have some good advice on Blackberries and you did! But more importantly, you now have me excited about Tayberries and I’ll probably try them on your recommendation alone. I’ve seen them around (on-line I mean) and wondered how they were. IF you, with your brambles experience, think they are that good then they are certainly worth a try. I actually planted some Loganberries that I got at Tractor Supply last year but like many of the plants I get from TS, they died. I applaud TS for offering a surprising variety of interesting fruit and nuts (hazelnuts, chestnut (seedlings), pecan (seedlings) etc.) But the packaging techniques they use the extremely small size of many of the plants they pack into sawdust and then a plastic bag, and so on dooms many of their plants from the start. But I digress. I’m also very interested in the fact that it sounds like you, overall, prefer the berries that come from thorny plants vs those from thornless plants. I’ have tasted blackberries from many other places (friends/famly, neighbors, and local u-pick places) and I had already formed a personal opinion that (ON AVERAGE) thorny plants just have better tasting black berries. No doubt there are exceptions to this rule and I don’t have experience with huge numbers of different plants, but hearing you confirm my own experience is just really interesting to me. I will also tell you that here in my area, I find the taste of wild black-berries to be better than most if not all of the “tame” blackberries I’ve tasted. In fact, as you may recall, I spent about 3 years creating my own wild blackberry patch by digging up and transplanting a few wild plants from a wild patch that was especially good tasting. Considering the way wild patches spread on their own, I was very surprised to find my transplants took a VERY long time (years) before they really began to send a lot of runners and shoots starting coming up. Worse yet, I really never get my transplants to bloom or produce fruit…even the third year, when they were sending up lots of shoots. I ended up with a big patch of thorns but that was all…never got a single berry. I don’t know enough about Brambles to know, but is it possible that I dug up all males and so their runners and shoots simply made more males that don’t blom? Or does it even work like that? (ie do only females produce fruit, or are there even male/females? If not, any idea why my wild patch, even after it became healthy with a lot of new plants that emerged from my transplants, never fruited? Once again…though…I’m chasing down another rabbit trail here. Same old Kevin! ha

@Olpea always a honor to hear from the king of peaches, and your compliment on my variety means everything to me. That being said, I always feel a little like my list of varieties paints an unfair picture of what I have in my orchard. Don’t misunderstand me, I absolutely have every single tree on my list in my orchard. But many of them (majority, in fact) are either this year or last year, so they are very small trees. Worse yet, several trees on my list have some sort of problem that means they are small, spindly little trees. In short, I don’t want you or anyone else who read’s my list to have visions of my orchard being filled with large, healthy, well pruned and shaped trees that are ready to produce bushels and bushels of fruit. That is my goal, of course, but I just feel compelled to tell you and others that I’m not there yet, not by a long shot. Speaking of which, can you shed any light to why I have had such bad luck with late season peach trees. It has to be more than bad luck. I’m talking primarily about Indian Free and Fairtime and one other very late variety I tried a few years ago and can’t remember right now (it died). I’ve planted and/or replanted these 2-3 varieties several times and had them die or just look awful and refuse to put on hardly any growth. I’ve planted them at different locations all around my property in the same conditions- and usually within feet of other peach trees that are healthy. Before you or others can help me much you’ll probably need to know the root stocks. Unfortunately (CRINGE) I don’t know. I bought most of the problematic late season trees from Peaceful Valley/Grow Organic or Stark Brothers. Not sure what either uses for RS. But I bought lots of my other trees from the same people and at the same time in many cases. Yet my late season varieties just do awful. Can you imagine anything inherently different about late season trees that could explain why I’ve had such (repeated) bad luck with varieties like Indian Free and Fairtime and another late peach??? Or do you think I’ve just had some coincidental bad luck with a few trees that just happened to be late fruiting varieties?

@drewk Since we are still talking about “peaches in Middle TN” I hope you don’t feel like I’ve hijacked your thread here. BTW…did you ever tell me what county you are in? If I missed it then I’m sorry, but I’m curious to know how close we really are. Let me at least try to answer your questions:

If you haven’t seen it, @scottfsmith has assembled an amazing and incredibly helpful list on on-line nurseries. If you are not yet aware of this list, you’ll be thrilled when you see it. Here it is:

As for your question about whether there are any nurseries to avoid, you might get different people to suggest one or two nurseries with which they have had bad experience with or don’t like or trust their trees. But there is one SUPER-STAR when it comes to the list of nurseries to avoid! There is one on-line retailer that, when I mention its name, is sure to get a lot of “Amen’s” and “I agree” and “LIKES”. It also happens to be one of the most advertised on-line nurseries out there (albeit with the strangest ads I’ve ever seen) The infamous offender of which I speak is: Ty Ty The depth of their awful reputation cannot be overstated. If you were on a desert island and the only way you could avoid starving to death was to (somehow) order a fruit tree from Ty Ty, I would recommend you just start eating sand. haha.

Finally, I concur with your inclination to buy and plant an Elberta peach tree. You mentioned it in conjunction with red haven and contender. In my own limited experience, those 3 trees would be the absolutely perfect for this area and are probably the 3 that I have the most success with. Hope some of this helps. Good luck!


As far as blackberries go, I’m planning next year on planting Triple Crown, PrimeArk Freedom and maybe Traveler, and Ouachita and Osage. All but the TC are thornless offerings from U of Ark and are supposed to be sweeter than some of their other thornless. I know Ouachita hasn’t been tasty for you, but maybe they’ll be OK here.

I also want to give Marion blackberry a shot here, even tho it might not take kindly to both the heat and sometimes hard winters here. Folks seem to really like it, but it is a Western BB, and may have some issues here in the East.

Opposite here, our wild BB are way too sour for my taste. They have to almost fall off the vine before they’re even decent tasting to me. My wife likes them, but she grew up on this farm eating them, so she may not have a lot to compare to. She also loves black walnuts which we have in abundance here, but I just don’t care for them.

If you click on his icon, it says Nashville, so I guess Davidson county?



Off the top of my head, I can’t think why you’ve had such poor results with late peach varieties. I had some trouble with bac. spot when growing Indian Free, but it still seemed to have normal vigor. You are absolutely right that there is a possibility the rootstock could be related.

I don’t think it’s related to the harvest window of the peach, or the variety. Although I’ve not grown Fairtime, I recognize it is a cultivar well suited to your climate. I’ve grown lots of late varieties. Currently I’m growing a very late variety, Autumn Prince, which ripens after Fairtime. Although they are only one year old trees, I’ve not seen any problems with them, or other late varieties.

For me, just about every single peach tree I’ve ever lost has to do with wet roots. I even lost some new trees this summer. They just died. I had them planted in terraces so I was really puzzled how I lost these buggers. The terraces were a little shallow (i.e. low) and planted in the wettest part of the orchard, but I thought the terraces would surely protect the peaches. However, when I pulled the dead peach trees up, I saw the roots were really in mud (We had so much rain this summer. Once had 7" in 24 hours.)

I ended up moving more dirt where those trees were so close to the normal soil line.

I’m sure you’ve checked for borers, wallowed out trees, crown gall, etc. The only other thing I can think of is possible ground contamination with herbicide, or some disease. There are diseases which can kill or weaken peaches, which don’t get discussed much on the forum. Everything from root disease Armillaria to X disease (i.e. A to Z, or, well, A to X) and lots in between.

It’s possible you could also have nematodes, but I think it unlikely since you are not seeing the symptoms in other trees.

I know I’m not much help here, but the first thing I would check is soggy roots, then I might start looking at diseases, if the trees are on a halfway normal rootstock (and not on some weird dwarfing roostock like sand cherry).


I know some need pollen from other plants, not self fertile. This is always tested with new cultivars. Pete Tallman who developed the Niwot primocane fruitng black raspberry was kind enough to help me out in my breeding experiments with advice, tutorials on bramble breeding, and even seeds. Great guy! Niwot is his 2nd child, his first was not self fertile and after years of testing and a huge amount of money was scrapped when they discovered this.

I’m at a loss as to why your wilds didn’t perform? It makes no sense? A guess would be viral infection. When you have decreases in harvest that is the first thing to look at. Mostly because you cannot do nothing about it, so one needs to determine if the problem is fixable or not? It might be best to grab more and plant them elsewhere.

Triple Crown is a winner, it is one of the best thornless types. I found though the darn thing suckers like crazy. Which is fine in a commercial setting but when it sends up canes next to my black raspberries in my postage stamp yard, not cool. It is a great thornless, but like all thornless it still is not there for me. I put the thornless in for my wife who loves blackberries, but she has developed a problem with acid fruits, unable to consume many anymore. I’m like you Kevin, not my favorite fruit. So they had to go. I removed Triple Crown. The raw juice was amazing and very good. I found as a flavoring blackberries are very good. Still fruit I like more is out there and in it’s place is honeyberries and serviceberries. I only put two cultivars of honeyberries in, but they are in the super sweet category Sweeter than the U of S cultivars.
Stone fruit was king of the fruits this year for me with an amazing pluot and plum harvest on top of a great peach and nectarine harvest was by far the star this year of all my fruit. I gave away much of it and that is always fun. Especially when you have nice looking fruit, and I did. I don’t really grow for anybody but my family, it still though was very enjoyable to give it away. I didn’t think it would be, I was wrong.

Agreed, you want to start with proven winners, then work your way to the more marginal choices that could be risky. This way you always get some harvest.
@drewk, please keep us updated from time to time on how it’s going!
Us stone fruit growers need to bounce feedback off of each other! Not easy plants to grow!


Peaches grow exceptionally well in TN. Your biggest problem is late spring frosts (after mild winters) freezing out the fruiting buds-- resulting in crop loss.

You’ll want to start with Redhaven, Contender, and Madison. All cold-hardy yellows.

Contender tastes good. Redhaven is exceptional. Some people think Redhaven is overrated. In my opinion, it is not overrated.

I have not tried Madison yet, but one Pennsylvania Amish farmer whose opinion I value highly says it fruits when ALL others get froze out. (says Amos Fisher of White Oak Nursery, Strasburg).

Grandpa Orchard of Michigan is selling all 3 right now:

I believe White Oak is also selling all 3 right now (at more affordable prices), but you have to call or write them-- search this forum’s “Nurseries” thread for their contact info.

Schlabach of upstate New York also sells all 3 varieties. Another Amish nursery with no website. Write for their catalog. See “Nurseries” page for more info.

Here are photos of my catalogs where you can find their addresses and voice-mailboxes:


You know, it is so nice to hear that simple admonition once in a while and I appreciate you saying it. Honestly, I think we all forget that and it is nice to be reminded that growing stone fruits really is a bit of a challenge from day one to harvest time. Maybe I’m just patting all of us on the back a little too much, but I don’t think so. We are all so accustomed to dealing with all the issues surrounding them that we sort of take them for granted-but think about it. Getting good fruit often requires a lot of research work before we even buy a tree, making sure we get something suited to our geographic area and climate (something the big box stores and beginning growers often don’t consider). Then we have to plant them at the right time of year and/or keep them watered. Proper pruning starts almost immediately and can be quite difficult to learn how to do exactly right, then it has to be continued for whole life of life of the tree! Then comes the research, selection, and use of all the proper insect and disease control sprays/additives- be it organic or non-organic. We spray one concoction in winter, and different things different times all spring and summer. We wrestle with decisions about fertilize, mulching, etc. We fight animals from mice/voles all the way to deer. We battle the weather from the first frost to last one. It’s just one thing after another.
I know this is all old news to everyone here, but I really do think @Drew51’s simple quote above is worth expanding on. Growing fruit, especially stone fruit, sometimes feels like I’m flat out working against nature, perhaps because the fruit we grow today is so different from their wild cousins from which they come. Whatever the case, I hope the people on this site who are new to fruit growing and feel overwhelmed will remember Drew’s simple statement and my expansion of it: Stone fruit is hard to grow!


I feel people’s pain. I’m in a great spot with low pest pressure, yet I still have lost some battles.What is sad is easy fruits because of invasive pests are becoming hard fruits. Sad to see. Once trees are established and healthy, and you now know how to protect them. The harvest is sweet. It makes it all worth it! This year as mentioned was amazing.

Always nice to mix it up! (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, plums and Einsett grapes).

What? West coast fruit in Michigan? Yup, some work well.
Spice-Zee Nectaplum. These things are huge!


Are those fruit in the top pic all your pluots? Nice harvest. Are pluots good in preserves, or did those just get put in the freezer? I wonder how well they’d can.

How would you rate the Spice Zee flavor wise, and about how many of those did you get this year?