Peaches in Middle TN?


This is going to sound like a crazy place to look for quality fruit trees, but believe it or not KROGERs in the Nashville area have a great selection of very good fruit trees in the spring. Don’t laugh…unlike some big box stores who source their trees from questionable places, Kroger gets all their trees from Freedom Tree Farms, which is a very well known national supplier with a good reputation and which many people on here have bought from. Anyway, they usually have lots of Contender Peach Trees. You’ll also find pluots, plums, etc. Normally you might not give a second look at trees at a place like Krogers, but due to their source (the cards even carry the FTF name) it’s a reasonable option for a Contender peach and other. They usually start arriving about mid March.


Well I looked at the VanWell Nursery site and they showed 12 in stock for the 3/4 inch RisingStar trees. Called and they added one to the order. Before Christmas they were out of stock when I called. Now if I can just get the Surecrop Peach on Lovell I should have a good selection of hopefully frost hardy trees.

So from VanWell I ended up with:

Early Red Haven

From Burnt Ridge:


From Ison:


From ACN:

PF 8 Ball
September Snow




Autumn Flame

I am really curious to see how the TruGold does - they sell it as “Better frost resistance and later bloom time than other peaches (even Contender),”. We will see …


Great list Spud. I think you’re going to be real happy with a lot of those peaches. You are eventually going to have soooo many peaches off 15 trees. Any thoughts at this point what you are going to do with all of them?


I’m currently not growing any peaches but when I did 15 years ago it was Elberta, Redhaven, and Bell of Georga. All did good. Late frosts generally weren’t a problem.


Hi Olpea,

Maybe open my own fruit stand - just kidding :slight_smile: Although I don’t know how long my gig in IT will last, I am getting ready to hit 50 which in IT makes me unemployable if I lose my job. I definitely enjoy growing fruit a lot more than my job. .

I expect 1/4 to 1/3 of the trees that I plant in Spring 2018 not to make it- mainly runt out. I have 2 now, a Rich May and a Gloria that did not grow last year and a Red Haven that is one fourth to one third the size it should be. I will transplant the Rich May and Gloria this coming spring and try to get them to grow but poor soil is the nature of my yard. They will be gone if they don’t grow this coming year. I have three more candidates to remove if they do not set fruit this year - 2 Reliance Trees and a Hale Haven.

The other issue I have is I like to prune my peach trees heavily. I want to get where I can prune half of my trees heavily each year (and not worry about if they produce) and still have trees to produce a full set a fruit throughout the summer. My Elberta’s and Contender should be cut back heavily this year but I am holding off hoping my trees produce this year.

If I ever do get my trees to produce I hope to make wine, peach juice, dry fruit and preserve peaches. I am still feeding 4 at home plus I have two parents living next door, so I hope all the fruit I am growing will be in demand. If my trees produce like I read about in the books (50 lbs per tree I think is the average output) and I have too much than I will donate to a homeless shelter/meal kitchen. I am not holding my breathe that I will ever get that kind of yield,

This is my last year of mass planting peach trees. After this year I have to look at replanting roughly an acre of my yard that I had timbered, almost clear cut (it will not be planted in peaches). The rest of my land was selectively cut. Not looking forward to clearing out the debris and stumps left by the timber company. - Richard


Considering in your info you mention your poor soil. I would feed trees well (not the new ones coming, at least not till after mid-summer) I would mulch Heavy and past the drip line. First mulch with compost and cover with wood chips, or use leaves, and cover leaves with compost. You need to increase the organic content.
I’m so lucky, the top soil here is very rich. My trees if anything grow way too fast


Hi Spud,

50# per tree would be a pretty low estimate, unless the trees are very small, young, or have lots of partial crops because of frosts or winter kill.

Generally you could expect at least 100#s per tree. Many orchards easily get 150#s per tree. For myself, I like about 100#s per tree on a full sized tree because peaches get really good size that way. Peaches that are 1/2 lb. and up (except for very early varieties). Plus the sugar is better if they are thinned that hard.

Most of our soil is pretty good, which makes it easy to get growth on peach trees. But, I have built some raised plantings on pure clay. We had to dig deep with a backhoe and had a bunch of extra dirt from the hole left over, so built some mounds with it. I’ve found even if the soil is very poor, peach trees will put on good growth if fertilized with adequate nitrogen. I use bagged urea, which is about 50% N. For a full sized tree in really poor soil, I use about a couple pounds per tree.

For small trees throw a few good sized handfuls around the base of the trees and it should get them moving. Of course make sure you keep the sod killed around the trees.

Most urea is of the form which requires it to be watered in after application, otherwise it will volatilize in the atmosphere. It needs about 1/2" of rain after application. I apply it just before or during a rain which is projected to give at least 1/2" of precip.

You can get coated urea, which doesn’t volatilize, but that’s hard to find except in bulk, and it’s more expensive.

You have to apply N every year, unless you see trees growing too vigorous, then slow it down. The soil will store some N, unless it’s extremely sandy.

On young trees I want to see at least 3’ of growth. On mature trees cropping, I like to see about 18" of new growth on new shoots. The perfect shoot is an 18" shoot with no branching. If there are too many new 3’ shoots with branching, that’s a negative, and too much growth.

On the other hand, if there are too many little 4" and 5" shoots after the end of the season, that’s too little vigor (and worse than too much growth). So you can adjust your N applications based on what you are seeing.

Even though the soil is good here, the last couple years I have started applying N routinely on young non-bearing trees to get them to size faster. Once they get some size and start bearing I stop applying N, unless I see vigor start to stall.

If peach trees don’t respond to N applications, there is something else seriously wrong. Either the soil badly out of wack, or the trees are competing with too much sod or tree roots, too much water on the roots, or some disease.

Generally it’s not disease. Most serious peach diseases don’t just slow peach trees down, they kill them.


If I get 100 to 150 lbs per tree I will be swimming in peaches with the trees I have, let alone to be planted… I am still not holding my breathe that will happen but we can always dream :slight_smile:. My older Reliance tree has never come close to that level of production. At what point is a tree considered mature? Growth wise my trees are all over the place depending where I planted them in my yard.

I used a lot of 10-10-10 on the Red Haven to get the growth that I got last year. If you are using 50% Nitrogen than you are likely using more Nitrogen than I am applying. I usually start in March at bud break and and apply two to three handfuls of 10-10-10 fertilizer every two weeks until the end of May. I have medium size hands but no idea what this equates to weight wise. Last year I applied less due to abnormally dry weather in Virginia.

I did not know that Urea volatilized without water - that is good to know. It seems that I have bought coated Urea before but I normally get the cheapest at the local Country store.

I agree about the vigor - after my first attempt to grow fruit trees (apples) 10 plus years ago which resulted in all trees runting badly, except for one Mulberry Tree that I planted next to a dog lot (plenty of fertilizer) I would rather have to much vigor than not enough. I won’t waste my time again on trees that don’t grow.

The Gloria peach I planted in an area I knew had really hard clay soil, but I thought amending the soil plus a lot of fertilizer would allow the tree to grow, even if it only reached 50% of normal growth. I planted the Gloria in a shallow raised bed (stone, maybe 6 inches raised). The Rich May was in an area with heavily compacted soil but better than where I planted the Gloria. I did not amend the soil for the Rich May peach or plant in a raised bed.

Knock on wood I have avoided peach tree diseases so far accept for canker, and that has been minor. Hopefully copper and a mix of fungicides will keep the trees disease free.

Thank you for all your feedback and advice! - Richard


Fertilizer is not suggested for new plantings, so you may want to hold off on that in the future. I guess the feeder roots are sensitive after transplant. They can be burned easily. I don’t use chemical fertilizers on a regular basis myself. I keep some on hand if I do need a quick nitrogen boost. I’m happy with organic fertilizers and nutrient rich mulch such as compost.I don’t have hundreds of trees, so it’s easy to baby and monitor trees. So far it’s been fantastic, nice yields, healthy trees, and great tasting fruit.


Hi Drew,

Thanks for the suggestions. I have found with peaches that if you wait 4 to 6 weeks after planting fertilizing does not hurt the tree. When I plant peaches depending on where I plant in my yard I usually amend the soil with processed manure -somewhere between 20 to 40%. Some folks on this board are dead set against any type of soil amendments but I have found it is the only way to grow trees in some parts of my yard. There is the risk of the roots “choking” or not growing outward from the tree due to the richer soil content in the amended area but I am willing to take that chance - the alternative is little or no growth.

I tried putting mulch down for the first time around a few of my peach trees this past year. I had been dead set against mulch is that prior experience has shown that mulch creates a layer that talks a long time to decompose and keeps things like fertilizer from getting to roots. I understand this goes against the norm and most people disagree with me on this. I saw no advantage to having mulch around the peach tree last year but I will continue putting mulch around the trees that I have started with to see if there is a long term benefit. This year I will put processed manure around the trees that that don’t have mulch.

Hopefully someday i will get to a more organic form of growing fruit trees. Things like doing my own composting are on my to do list but I am not there yet.


Yes, I hit them with organic as it’s mild, and just stuck with it.

I would say you need three or four years before you see the advantage.
I’m so impressed with using and reusing organic matter. After doing this a few years, I’m seeing a major difference. Not just around my trees, but all the garden areas the soil is darker every year. Plus I’m lazy and it takes little work.
If you dig around my trees, the soil is filled with worms. I have never seen so many worms. So they help break down the organic matter into a form the trees can absorb, they aerate the roots. The tree roots, the feeder roots will thrive right under the mulch.

You know I’m a skeptic, not a tree hugger. i don’t expect to see rainbows and unicorns in the garden. Having said that I’m changing my mind about natural methods. Plus it’s fairly easy to do.
Nothing is perfect, if you have a lot of worms, then no doubt you’re going to have a lot of skunks digging for those worms, they love worms! They know they’re there. And as far as spraying, I have to spray chemicals, at least for the fungicide. I try to minimize use of any chemicals including fertilizer. Some fruits are easy to do this, others not so much.


I have been putting gypsum around my fruit trees and on my garden plot the past few years hoping that would improve the clay soil. So far I can’t tell a difference. I have also put crushed egg shells around some trees for the calcium. For now I will stick with manure around most of my peach trees. I found a cheap source for aged manure last fall from a local farm plus I bought a large bagged qty on clearance from Walmart this past fall. Hopefully the gypsum and manure will work. I really want to get into creating my own compost but so far I have not had the time.


Look at the Flaming Fury series of peaches. I just planted one of these varieties last spring.
I have had good luck with the RedHaven and Contender in my Ohio orchard.
Try Boyer Nursery for some of these peaches.



I’ve occasionally read that, but seen quite a few recs suggesting fertilizing new plantings.

The other peach growers around here also fertilize new plantings. Most of them use fertigation. I don’t have drip lines, so I just apply it by hand.

It is possible to burn roots of brand new trees. I’ll admit I’m always a little uneasy recommending fertilizing new trees because I don’t want someone doing so and burning their roots. That said, I’ve not burned any roots of new trees yet from adding straight N to newly planted trees.

We did once kill a few apple trees from too much fertilizer. Long story short, I told my son to put some fertilizer I had blended on some new apple trees placed in mounds. This was another instance the mounds were poor soil, from digging into clay. I told him to put about three good handfuls on the mounds (the mounds were built with a skid steer and were large). My son very carefully put three handfuls right up against the trunks of the newly planted trees, instead of scattering the fertilizer all over the mounds like I thought he understood. I didn’t know he’d piled it around the trunks until the rains came and washed most of the fertilizer right down through the loose soil to the newly planted roots. The foliage of the trees quickly turned yellow. Most pulled out of it, but a few didn’t. My guess is that the salts of the fertilizer are what damaged the trees, not the N, because the blend was a fairly low N blend.

That said, I would recommend anyone adding urea to new trees to wait till the rain settles the dirt before the area is top dressed with it. That’s what we generally do.

Re: Organic amendments. I like those as well. In my view, each load of wood chips is like a free load of fertilizer.

I consider a fully mature tree as one with about a 20’ spread, or a 10’ radius. It generally takes my trees about 6 years to get to that.

That’s not a bad amount of fertilizer, probably close to the same amount of N as I mentioned. I probably put a little more N down because I too will come back and throw a few more handfuls of N down the first year, maybe two or three times throughout the season for non-bearing trees.

A lot of recs are for the 10-10-10, especially as a replenishment for bearing trees. However, highly mineralized clay soil can be lacking in N, especially if they are low in organic matter, even if it contains lots of other minerals and nutrients. N is generally the most essential nutrient regulating growth. That is, show the quickest growth response.

I’m a little worried your heavy soil with the rainfall you get in VA. Clay water logs so easily. It sounds like you have some trees up out of the ground, but for the others, they can easily get too much water. But, even if your soil does water log. If it’s not wet enough to kill the trees, N applications will generally aid in growth, although the benefit will be somewhat muted.

However, it’s best if the trees are raised up out of the grade level. It just a lesson I’ve learned so hard for myself, I hate for others to have to learn it the hard way. I still see it in others plantings.

There is a house I drive by everyday I go to the farm, which is a mile from my orchard. The owner has three peach trees planted in the ground with no raised planting and sod growing next to the trees. I can see them as I drive by. They have been in the ground at least 4 years (maybe 5). They’ve hardly grown at all. The owner has never pruned them, and they have maybe grown 3’ in all those years. This is on ground which is very similar to mine. The only consistent difference is that I have raised plantings, and weed free zones.

This year I have experimented with planting peach trees on flat ground here at the house (not digging a hole at all) then building a mound around them. I just set the trees on the grass and started putting buckets of dirt on the roots, till I got a mound of sorts. It takes quite a few buckets (probably about 20 or more buckets per tree). First time I’ve tried that, but I know how wet our soil can get, so I didn’t want to dig down without a mound. I’ll probably add more buckets as the trees grow.


Yeah i was unclear, at planting is what I meant. It was what I quoted and was responding to. I too fertilize new trees (as mentioned in previous posts in this thread). Just not at planting. And the link you provided agrees. The 2nd link doesn’t really mention much about fertilizer, and the third link also agrees with me in the very first sentence. My bad for poor wording and not being clear as to what I meant.

I agree that is true, but think it’s wrong too. It’s a waste for one thing, Calculated use ratios have suggested an average of 3-1-2 NPK for most plants. Most soils contain plenty of potassium, not all.So it may not be needed at all. The trees do not need all that phosphorus so it ends up as run off. Since it’s stubborn to sink down too, if not absorbed it runs off. Having algae blooms in nearby Lake Erie has made us locally rethink our ratios.
One could at least apply a more balanced chemical fertilizer. I use Tree-Tone 6-3-2. With compost and leaves. I’m not seeing a lack of vigor, so the lower nitrogen is not a concern for me. One could supplement that with urea if needed. . You only need to apply it twice a year here. So it’s so easy My soil is low in manganese, so once a year I add some to one of my pesticide sprays for the leaves and fruit.

I plant mine sort of like that. I do remove the grass, and make about a 6 inch depression. Most of the tree is planted above ground level. Sometimes the mounds erode some, but it is easy to apply more soil. usually I just use compost. These days most say to plant trees high enough to develop large root flares above the surface. Not sure if this is really needed? It is easy to do with these mound plantings and all my trees are developing large above ground flares.


Oh, ok. Sounds like we were saying the same thing.


I’m hoping I somehow master the English language before I die! Speaking of which I just got the results to a very comprehensive health check. After being poked, prodded, scanned, and scoped I was beginning to worry. Turns out the blood work was perfect, and negative on all cancer screens. All organs functioning properly. Must be all that fruit I have been eating! All of a sudden my cholesterol and triglycerides are all very good! They have been out of wack for some time in previous tests. it’s a good day! I’m at a point I can produce and store enough fruit for all of winter. i still buy fresh fruit too. Keep eating that fruit, it makes a difference!


Three handfuls of 10/10/10 applied about 12 times would send my peach trees to the moon!

Three handfuls should weigh about a pound so your peaches are probably getting a little more than a pound of actual nitrogen per tree.

In NC, the suggestion is about 1 pound of 10/10/10 for each year of age, so a three year old tree would need around 3 pounds of 10/10/10 or .3# of N per tree.

Of course, everything is site specific, but the commercial orchard apple growers I have spoken with in your general area have trouble controlling tree vigor and get by with very little fertilizer. Some peach growers on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC get 18 inches of new shoot growth on peach trees with almost no fertilizer.

If your peaches don’t jump after getting hit with all that N, you may want to recheck your PH and perhaps get a nematode test.


Mulch was mentioned, so just for the heck of it, I took a picture of one of the mulched rows yesterday. I never can seem to get enough to keep all the trees mulched.

You’ll notice on the right, some of the terraces have settled enough I put more dirt back on top of the terraces in preparation for new trees. I took out some varieties which were poor performers.


I’ve found my young peach trees don’t grow as fast as I’d like without N, but most mature trees put on adequate (or sometimes too much) growth without supplemental N (other than what the mulch gives). Of course some varieties are just naturally less vigorous, and seem to need supplemental N.

I think some of the new trees don’t grow as fast because the soil is more packed. Normally I plant in freshly planted mounds, so the soil is very loose. The roots of a new tree fly through it, but on replants my soil has some compaction issues and the supplemental N helps a lot.



I love your setup with the mounds and the mulch. I see an ocean of red fruiting wood for next year!

Never seen peaches on beds like that. How common is that in your area?