Stone fruit trees for Western PA

Hello again! I’m trying to choose my stone fruit trees for my backyard orchard. I’m in Pittsburgh, PA in zone 6. The soil has a fair amount of clay.
These are the varieties that I’m considering:

Cherries: Rainier, Black Tartarian, Montmorency

Peach: Red Haven, Indian Blood Free, Peregrine

Plum: Blue Damson, Bavay Green Gage, Toka, Reine Claude Doree

Any advice or input on these??

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The soil will influence your rootstock choices- what rootstocks are you looking at?

For the cherries I would replace Rainier with White Gold which is brown rot / cracking resistant and also self-fertile. The other two choices are good for PA.

For the peaches I would replace one of them with Glohaven. It is one of the few peaches that is actually resistant to brown rot.

I can’t help you with plums since I have no experience with them.

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Maybe replace the Damson with something to pollinate Toka. Superior, or maybe one of the zone 5 pluots.

Think production when chosing varieties, especially with plums. The quality will blow you away regardless and if you plant trees on Myro there will be plenty of vigor to graft on multiple varietis once trees reach production. I’m thinking a productive prune plum, for starters, like Empress or Castleton. Maybe Shiro for a J. plum, not because it is especially good but because it’s especially reliable.

Red Haven is very reliable in our zone, Indian Blood, not so much. I vaguely remember Peregine as a productive white peach in an orchard I managed a couple of decades ago, but I’m never very fond of antique white peaches. Often they have too much fuzz and are bland to my palate in any case. I recommend one of the early white nectarines instead- maybe Silver Gem because it doesn’t tend to crack and is early enough to avoid a lot of brown rot pressure. It also has some acid to go with its high sugar (higher than most peaches) Here it can even be grown organically besides a single fungicide spray a couple of weeks before it ripens.

However, if you can obtain advice from someone widely experienced in your specific area that might be even more useful. I’m in Z6 S. NY and have experience with many orchards within 60 miles of me as well as my own.


Hey Heather! Good to see another Pittsburgh person on the forum! I am not personally growing any of the stone fruits because I am trying to do a low spray setup, but I did tack on a red haven peach to my Burnt Ridge order for a friend who requested it. Based on the recommendation of other members, I’d suggest looking into Vaughn Nursery for your trees. They should have everything you want but it might not be in stock this year. If you want a local nursery for this year, I highly recommend a trip to Pikes Peak Nursery off of rt 422 in Indiana County. They are very affordable and have great quality trees. I’d call their office if you can’t find what you are looking for on their website, it’s a bit hard to navigate. They likely only sell varieties that do well around here. The gentleman who usually runs the garden center is super friendly.


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Have you seen @scottfsmith’s thread on stone fruit.

Scotts stone fruits variety experiences 2005-2015.

It was a bit older thread but had a lot of useful info.

To me, Indian Blood Free is too tart for my liking but many people love it. Don’t know much about Peregrine. There are so many good peaches.

Re. Plums, although most E plums are partial fruitful, it is better to have cross pollination partners. I like Empress, Coe’s Golden Drop, Vision and French Improved. Mirabelle is good, too.

Toka will need the right cross pollination partners. I like Laroda, Lavina and Elephant Heart. J plum needs cross pollination. You can plant one and graft other varieties to it.

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I would follow others recommendations for disease resistant fruit varieties

I second nils advice of Superior to pollinate toka or elephants heart j plum?

I love damsons but also really want tart fruit and love damson jam but you already have pollination partners for those gages

Monmorency is a excellent tree ripened eating sour cherry and if sweet cherries do not do good for you maybe also think about juliet or some of the other romance series bush cherries? You only need one sour cherry for pollination

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