Workhorse Peach trees to extend the season?

In the around 6 years I’ve grown peaches, I’ve had few to harvest, mostly due to disease and insect problems I believe I now have under control. I am hoping to add 1-3 peach trees that are real workhorses and have compiled a list based on recommendations on this site. I’m curious regarding others experiences with these and whether people with limited space favor extending their season earlier or later and why. Also, I’m unsure of ripening times of a few late varieties I listed. I live in 6a southern Michigan and currently grow Coralstar. My Redhaven just died from previous borer damage (problem had been addressed, but tree succumbed anyway).

Options I’m considering and have found available:

To Replace the Redhaven

Redhaven again (I still like this one and could give it another shot – developed in Michigan, fairly hardy, tasty, commercial breed known for productivity)

Contender (hardy, but unfortunately a very similar season to Coralstar; some complain about quality, but overall it sounds like a workhorse of a peach.)

Blazing star (another one of the Stellar peaches, bred in Michigan, which again I like since it feels like part of our state heritage; Redhaven season, which would be nice; Olpea likes the taste, but it sounds like it’s less productive/hardy and so I worry about having a great-tasting peach that I don’t get to eat because of spring freezes – but it’s not supposed to be THAT cold here in 6a by the Michigan-Ohio border and so maybe it’s worth a shot? But, I’ve had such a hard time getting actual peaches, though this is probably disease and bug-related.)

To further extend the season

Saturn (several on this forum consider this among the easiest of the donut peaches; my kids would find this very fun, but I couldn’t can it since it’s a low-acid white peach and would definitely only want it if I had another very productive yellow peach first. Also, it’s about the same season as Redhaven, which is the same season I’m looking to get my first peach.

Indian Blood (interesting peach, looks like it’s cold hardy, but how late is this? Would it extend my season nicely after Coralstar or would it simply be too late?) How would it do in Michigan? Alan and Scott complained about rot in their climates, but Drew said it has done well for him… Updates

Polly (interesting white peach, sounds like it’s tasty and I hope productive? I’m having a hard time finding how late this one is, too)

Veteran (late peach with reputation for being hardy/tasty.)

Glowingstar Peach (again a stellar peach, but would it be less hardy and therefore less productive for me than Veteran, Polly, Indian blood or Contender? I’m not as close to Lake Michigan as the developer of this variety and have wider swings in the temperatures. How does it taste?)

Early Redhaven (I could add this one, which I’ve found available, to extend my season earlier when I don’t have as much fruit coming in, but how does it taste and how hardy is it?) Is it better to extend my season earlier or later?

Hardired or Flavotop nectarine - my daughter loves nectarines, but after my fight for peaches, they scare me!

There are others I’ve considered, but I am not finding them in stock at the places I’d like to shop this year. Unfortunately, I live on a smallish city lot or I’d buy all of them and compare!

1 Like

Hi Karen,

It sounds like you’ve read my past comments on peaches, so I won’t offer much more.

I will say that Risingstar beats Early Redhaven hands down. After raising Risingstar for many years, there is no reason to plant Early Redhaven any more.

Risingstar is a more consistent cropper than Early Redhaven, both from a spring frost standpoint and a winter hardy standpoint. It also tastes better. And it’s slightly prettier.

I’ve grown Hardired. It is very productive and must be thinned heavily. If thinned hard, it will produce some nice tasting nects. However, on the second picking of Hardired, the flavor starts to drop off. All the fruit is worthless on the third picking.


I’ve also wondered about these. I’ve gotten the impression—perhaps mistaken—that there is a difference (in terms of disease-resistance, maybe flavor, too) between “Indian Free” and “Indian Blood” cling peaches (aka “Cherokee”). The latter are often seed-propagated, so there might be some genetic diversity among them as well.

1 Like

Thank you, Olpea. That’s good to know Risingstar is so much better for you in contrast to Early Redhaven. That answers that. Based on your description, I’ll hold off on nectarines for now. I don’t have room for Hardired if it doesn’t retain good flavor for each picking and I’m concerned the other was developed in California and won’t be a good fit for my climate.

I’m curious as to what your most productive peach or two are for Redhaven season. I’ve read your peach reports and very much appreciate the information. Would you rank Redhaven your top consistent producer during that season or are there some others close/better? How does Blazingstar compare in terms of production – far less most years?

1 Like

Yes, I would love to know more about disease and productivity of each compared to more modern peaches. The “Free” peach needs a pollinator, I believe, and the “Blood” peaches can grow true from seed and self-pollinate. I’m more interested in the “Blood” peaches, though – would love to try one. I like tart with my sweet. I just worry that the trees would not be productive enough to be worth their space or that I’d be in a constant battle with disease/bugs. I successfully grafted apples for the first time last year. Maybe it’s time to see if I can graft new varieties on my peaches! I wouldn’t mind losing part of my Coralstar peach, which is now extremely healthy, but has never been very productive for me …

1 Like

Redhaven is probably the most consistent for that harvest window. Starfire is pretty close to as productive, but Redhaven is a bit more consistent.

Blazingstar tastes super good. But it’s a pretty finicky producer for me. I’ve grown it for over a decade and it produces maybe 50% of the time. I don’t have a whole lot of that variety (only 4 trees) but plan not to put anymore in. I need trees which will produce more consistently here.

I’ve tried Challenger for the Blazingstar window. I don’t have enough experience with it to recommend it, but have had good luck with peaches from the NCSU program.

Also Rochester is supposed to be close to the Blazingstar window. Last fall I budded my first trees of that variety. It’s supposed to be a very consistent producer in marginal climates.


Thank you. As boring as it sounds, I think my replacement tree will be another Redhaven. I am glad to learn about Challenger-- a better version of Reliance with Redhaven in its parentage (Redhaven x (NC001, NC002, NC003 [Reliance x Biscoe])) sounds promising. Rochester seems to be more common in England than here, but sounds like a good one to watch too. I appreciate the heads up on those varieties! I hope they do well for you since we could use improved cold-hardy varieties.


Im going to grow Contender as my workhorse, and O’Henry will be ‘My Precious’. O’Henry is my personal favorite peach but it does have a couple of issues that im ok with.

For my hobby patch im going to put in some Indian Blood aka. Cherokee aka. Blood Cling, bc they are cheap and are more like an heirloom and i can grow more from seed if i like it. Worst case scenario they are pretty trees and good for pollinators and wildlife. And maybe a treat for the chickens.

1 Like

I’m thinking Contender is the perfect Workhorse for that bearing period, too. I think I’ll either try to graft/bud some Contender onto my existing Coral star or just add the tree. I have heard O’Henry is delicious! I am fairly certain I’d have a hard time growing it here, though.

I love your ideas for Indian Blood – I have chickens, too – though I’d rather give them any kitchen scraps rather than my precious peaches, but I’d be happy to have some more conservation trees if I had more space. I’d look forward to hearing how your trees do – and would LOVE to know how long after Redhaven the Indian blood peaches bear. With growing fruit we take the long view on finding answers, though, unless someone else is ahead of us on the journey :slight_smile:

according to Dave Wilson Nursery August 10 to August 21

1 Like

I can recommend “Polly”. Ripens within a week or two of Redhaven so not really season extending. In Michigan I doubt that you have too much room to maneuver in that way.

I’m beginning to think that if you are OK with cling or semi-cling peaches you have a lot more flexibility in a marginal climate.

For whatever it’s worth, the large Kit Donnell and the small Baby Crawford are the best and most intensely-flavored peaches there are. Discovered them at Andy’s Orchard in Morgan Hill, CA.

1 Like

Thanks for this! I found Dave Wilson’s maturity chart and on it Redhaven ripens at the beginning of July, whereas Grandpa’s Orchard’s chart (based in Michigan rather than the West coast) shows Redhaven ripening at the beginning of August. So, perhaps in Michigan Indian Blood peaches would be about a month and a half after Redhaven or Sept. 10-21 – not certain though because even the order of ripening of some familiar peaches is different between Dave Wilson and Grandpa Orchard’s charts. In different areas of the country peaches ripen differently.

1 Like

Thanks for your recommendation. How do you find the flavor of Polly? Does it crop well? I’m actually a 6A in this part of Michigan and there are peach orchards not too far from my home, but since I’m struggled with peaches I’m trying to choose peaches that are most likely to consistently crop. Are you saying that in 5A you have better luck with early peaches that are sling or semi-cling and, if so, what varieties have you found success with? Thank you!!!

I hope to be able to try them sometime! Thanks for sharing your experience. Those are not varieties I’m familiar with in the Midwest. I wonder if they grow better in California’s climate.

Kit Donnell is a variety that Andy Mariani himself of Andy’s Orchard created and named in honor of his friend. It is absolutely exquisite.

Okay, looking just now, I found this: Kit Donnell Peaches | Fruits | Baldor Specialty Foods So it’s a seedling of Baby Crawford. My understanding is that Baby Crawford was developed by UC Davis but they were going to toss it because the fruit was too small for commercial success. But the flavor! The juiciness! Andy rescued and named it.

Andy is head of the Santa Clara County Rare Fruit Growers Association and is well known in the Bay Area for only growing what tastes best and only picking and selling his fruit when it’s ripe.

1 Like

(Also, re climates, I believe they’re a descendant of the Loring, which my family and I used to get at a pick-your-own farm in West Virginia when I was a kid.)

1 Like

Actually I got reclassified to 6a (Rocky Mountain foothills so still very different.).

Can’t complain about the taste of “Polly” Very sweet. Occasionally I get one with a kind of golden white which is sublime. Not huge fruit, medium sized. If you are OK with white peaches I doubt you would be disappointed.

Sometimes they have a slightly persistent, slightly greenish tinge. That would only make a difference if you were trying to sell at a roadside stand. Developed in Iowa. So you have a chance up North. Productive but definitely not immune to our late freezes.

I don’t actually have personal experience with semi-cling and cling peaches. I’m just repeating scuttlebutt I read here. Which seems to describe the clings as a bit more rugged.

I also had pretty good luck with good old “Redhaven”. Developed in Michigan so you won’t go far wrong.

Based on my happy experience with the “Harvest Queen “ pear, I’m planning on trying out the “ Harrow Diamond”from Harrow Ontario station. Alan an upstate NY grower here said he liked “Earliblaze” (I think) better, as easier to manage.
It’s been years, but ‘J.H. Hale’ was pretty reliable, large, with excellent flavored large fruit. An heirloom to the point of obsolescence.

Not self-fruitful and not a vigorous grower for me. That means subject to stunting out. If I tried again I would plan on giving it an extra year or two to grow before letting it bear a single fruit.

Can’t offer any advice on disease resistance. Our dry climate and common late spring freeze-outs spare us most diseases and pests. Nothing like the occasional total and complete crop failure to keep pest populations down.

1 Like

An expert opinion of peach productivity in KS could lead you astray in Michigan. Olpea’s problems with inconsistent bearing do not often match my experience here in NYS. The fact is that most peach varieties commonly grown in my climate usually set way too much fruit and of all the many peaches I’ve tried, only certain CA peaches have been shy bearers, specifically Gold Dust and Flavor May, but I have room so am very happy to have Flavor May even on years it sets lightly- it is uniquely early and flavorful with high brix. Gold Dust is also very good in its season but there are others almost as good and not nearly as finicky, but it bears well enough for me to keep it. I grow fruit for me and my friend’s enjoyment, not profit, and while I don’t like irregular cropping, lighter crops are fine if a variety has special qualities.

I’ve never grown Earliblaze and am not aware of it. I do grow Blazingstar and it sets fine here as I’m sure it does where it was developed. Who would release a variety that wasn’t a reliable bearer in the region it was developed? Olpea also had a cropping problem with Coralstar and Messina, which always overcrop for me except on those occasional years when frost destroys all of the peach crop. I was recently told by a commercial Maine peach grower that Messina is considered a very cold hardy peach and useful in his Z4 (as I recall) which probably means it would perform where you are.

1 Like

I extended my season by planting Monark apples

1 Like