Seedling Peach Trees

One thing it seems we rarely talk about here is seedling peach trees. With my very limited knowledge of seedling peaches, and knowing how unlikely it is to get a decent apple producing tree from a seed, I figured seedling peaches were also fairly unlikely to make a good tree that would produce good fruit. But I have a lot of land and peach seedlings are free, so a few years ago I planted or transplanted 10 seedling peaches. In some cases, I just took them out of my compost pile so I had no clue about parentage. In other cases I dug up seedlings from under a known peach tree. In those cases, I am fairly confident that I know at least 1 of the parents (the tree it is under, which dropped fruit that later sprouted and grew) but of course I wouldn’t know the pollinating parent since I have about 28 varieties within a few hundred yards.

Anyway, this year I’m finally seeing the results for the first time, and I’m really surprised! I know peaches are far more likely than apples to produce a good fruit tree from seed, but I’m still shocked. Right now, it looks like only 3 out of 10 are a flop! THey produced golf ball sized, hard, bumpy fruit that is just bland and not good when they ripen, aside from the tiny size.

But its the other 7 that have me excited. Some have already produced this year and are average size and very good. 2 weren;t all that sweet but were still as good as some known varieties I’ve grown. The other 5 are amazing, and this is where it gets exciting. Now 2 of them have still not ripened, so its a bit early to say, but they are clearly going to be full size and look really nice. The other 3 were just great. Average or above average peach size, sweet, juicy, etc. These are peaches anyone would be proud of- and they come from seeds. The 2 that haven’t ripened yet but look good are also exciting because it looks like they are going to be very late peaches, and I needed some of those. So…perfect!

Anyway, to get very good peaches 70% of my seedlings really shocks me- though for all I know that is fairly typical. I also know that 10 trees is hardly a sample size that has statistical meaning- I could have just got lucky. But its been such a fun experiment that I wanted to share it with others here and ask if any of you have grown out many seedling peaches and if so, what your experience has been.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering if I can patent one of these and make millions? haha.

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My 5 seedling peach trees did fine for a bit but eventually got bad brown rot and one died ?short life?

Have 3 seedings remaining but moving to known varieties with some resistance

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I did the same this winter and have 12 trees about 1-2 feet tall. How long did it take to get fruit?

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I had one show up in a un-watered pot of soil in the shed one spring. The soil was dry yet it sprouted. The pit was about 6 or 7 inches deep in the pot. It turned out to be a very late and not tasty nectarine. I’ll try the fruit again this year and if it’s still not good I’ll use it for rootstock.

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i have 5 Siberian peaches i grew from seed i planted last fall. surprised they all grew. supposed to be z4 hardy so we’ll see. fruits supposed to be closer in size to apricots but that’s fine by me. as long as they taste decent. had my 1st tree ripened peach from one of my brothers bear hunters that brought some up for us from M.D. last fall. now i know why people fight to keep their peaches healthy. they are so worth it! climate change has bumped us up to z4b literally 300yrs from z5a so im confident i should be able to get crops here on the milder winters. my contender was killed to the ground 3 winters ago but my reliance has survived and grown well on the orchard up the hill. it set 1 well hidden peach in the middle of the tree. im protecting that sucker likes its gold!

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My peache trees are from seed and they do well enough. I would never buy a grafted peach

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your experience mirrors my own. I have only seedling peaches here and several are excellent, one is exceptional. Most of mine are grown from pits of peaches bought at a local orchard- Redhaven and the like. My best is a white fleshed peach with nearly fuzzless nectarine - like skin. It was grown from the pit of a fuzzy yellow fleshed peach. Its proven a bit of a shy bearer but the fruits are massive.

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Kevin,
Yes, there are a much better chance that peach seedlings will produce decent to good fruit than seedlings of apples.

I have a seedling from a named variety. It produced large firm fruit. The taste is Ok but the size is impressively large. It probably is good for canning for its firmness.

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I have a white flesh peach supermarket seedling that popped up last year and 2x supermarket nectarines. The peach is vastly outgrowing the nectarines. Twice the size. Hope to get some fruit in it’s second year. Might be a bit optimistic .

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I grow Weinbergpfirsich (literally a vineyard peach) which is common in this wine growing region. We have a white and red (Roter Weinbergpfirsich) variant, which is an old herloom variety.
They are stable enough that they come true from seed. In fact that is the normal mode of their propagation. Well, mostly, because the colours seem to blend if the white and red cross pollinate and on some trees the fruit colour (proportion of red flesh) seems to vary from year to year. Also, some of my whites have more extremely small petals.
I only select pits from my true Roter tree. The red ones are something else taste wise.

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I’ve also had good luck with a seedling peach. It blooms earlier than others but hasn’t suffered brown rot when others have. Taste is as good as the best we’ve ever had from anywhere else. I grew another seedling from it’s fruit. Still a year or two out from production on it.

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I appreciate everyone telling their own experiences here and have followed closely and find it really interesting. Sounds like my 7 out of 10 seedlings that made good peach trees (so far) is about average.

You all have also made some interesting points I hadn’t thought about. I’ve been judging my seedlings solely based on whether they produce good fruit, and really had not thought about whether they will be resistant to diseases, have good strong roots that overcome root issues, and so on. I supposse that popular peach varieties like Red Haven or Contendender are popular not only because they make good fruit, but because they make good healthy trees. Same with root stocks. So I’ll watch for those characteristics as well.

One other thing that I’m purely curious about and hope some of you can tell me. Of course I was totally joking when I said maybe I can patent one of my seedlings and make a million dollars. But just out of curiousity (obviously I’m not really going to try to patent anything), would that be legal. I mean, let’s say I have a seedling that comes from a patented tree (lets say contender, even though I don’t know if it still has a patent) and an unknown, would I be able to get a patent/register a seedling from it, or would I have to pay royalties to the contender patent? And if I don’t know what the pollinator is, could I get a patent or do you have to declare both parents and get approval and so on to licence an offspring seedling?
Patent might not even be the right word here. But I am simply curious about what the rules are if I did get a seedling that produced 3 pound peaches that had 30 brix or whatever. ?

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I think this topic has come up a few times. As long as the parent isn’t a GMO/gene patent, and is just a normal plant patent, you’re always allowed to grow out seeds and there’s no need for permission or to pay royalties.

There’s another few steps before you can get a patent on a tree yourself. You have to graft it and evaluate it and of course get the patent before you distribute any budwood or trees to anyone.

Perhaps a better/easier option is just to give it a cultivar name, publish that. You can be remembered as the source of a variety and people could freely share budwood with each other if it becomes popular.

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I have habit of throwing pits into the yard. I will let whomever wants to grow grow. I have never seen plum seedings in my backyard, but pears and peaches seedings pop up here and there. Now I ended up with 3 mature peach trees from seedings and some young seedings. I moved the young seedings to pots and grafted with chosen cultivar for gifts to friends. Among 3 mature trees, about 6, 7 years old, I don’t remember exactly how many years. 2 are ok quality. Fruits sizes are medium size, but the taste is not as sweet. But the third tree has large size, beautiful red covered fruits, productive, most importantly great taste. I grafted it to other peach tree to preserve the cultivar. However, it ripens unevenly. Half is soft and half is still hard. Well,not perfect, but I didn’t spend a dime on buying the tree.

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Fantastic story on volunteer peaches. I have key a few of them grow here in Nashville, TN and they have all produced fruit that was taken by our squirrels. You have all inspired me to get to work on this project this year. I will be back with results when and if I have any. I am especially happy to hear that some of you with healthy but nonproductive peaches grafting healthy Scion’s to the root stocks.

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Didn’t realize you were in Nashville. I’m 30 minutes north of you. Since the squirrels stole all your fruit, you’re more than welcomed to come up and get some free replacements- I’ve got a fairly good crop this year.

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I am growing a small number from seeds primarily to use them as plum rootstocks since plums tend to grow much faster on peach rootstocks. One idea you might consider Kevin, is to keep the rootstocks of your peach that do not produce suitable fruit, and simply graft them over to the ones that do well. Chances are your peaches are open pollinated from an orchard so even if you buy a Red Haven peach, it is likely going to be a hybrid seed, so there’s actually a fairly good possibility of haveing a seedling better than either parent!
Dennis
Kent, wa

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Hey, I would just like to come up and see your place and see how you’re doing things. Might learn something.

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I had a plum tree grow in the tree line where I dumped all my plum pits/ bad plums. Didn’t fruit while I lived there (probably too much shade) but the blossoms were gorgeous and fragrant. Will remember this discussion if I ever get any more plum or peach seedlings.

Your experience is not unusual with peaches. Since they are almost all self-fertile, peaches and nectarines are much more homogenous than most other fruits that require cross-pollination. I have two outstanding seedlings. When I see a seedling peach, I almost always let it fruit because it doesn’t usually take very long. If it is better than or earlier or later ripening than the other varieties, I have, I save it.

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