If you are planning to add some peach trees to your landscape, now is the time to order them. Texas A&M recommends that peach trees be planted before March 1st.
In this post, I have listed the varieties that Texas A&M and several other growers recommend as being well suited for growing in North Texas and which have good or acceptable taste.
Depending upon the variety, peaches can ripen anytime from April until August. Consequently, it is a good idea to plant a mixture of cultivars that will provide you with fruit over an extended period.
Peaches Preferred By Local Growers
Jim Kamas was kind enough to offer his opinions on some of the best and most flavorful peach varieties to grow in Texas. He is an Assistant Professor & Extension Horticulturist for Fruits at Texas A&M's Department of Horticultural Sciences. He is also the author of the upcoming Texas Peach Handbook which should be coming out later this year.
The first peach variety that Jim suggests is Harvester. He describes Harvester as a semi-freestone peach with outstanding flavor and good, but not excessive firmness that colors well. It has an "[e]xcellent sugar/acid balance and when fully ripe, the flesh pulls away from the pit quite easily." The fruit of this variety are of a good size, and it is a consistent producer that ripens in mid-June in North Texas.
Jim also recommends Loring, especially for home owners. Loring ripens about the fourth of July and can produce exceptionally large peaches, often reaching three and a half inches in diameter. According to Jim, this variety is "highly prized for its outstanding flavor and some commercial growers get premium prices because of consumer demand." It can be "a little finicky in setting a large crop, but for homeowners it is an excellent choice of a mid-season freestone variety."
For mid-July, Jim Kamas' favorite peach cultivar is Redskin. Redskin is a consistent producer of good sized, deeply colored fruit with the occasional bit of red color in the flesh. "Fully freestone, Redskin is among the most flavorful peaches grown in our area and has been a reliable standard variety for homeowners and commercial growers alike." It is also commonly the variety of choice for canning or freezing.
Bob Wells of Bob Wells Nursery independently agrees with Mr. Kamas. Bob's three favorite peach varieties are also Redskin, Loring, and Harvester.
Dale and Judy Ham, who operate Ham Orchard in Terrell, Texas, offer a few additional, recommended choices for planting in your orchard. In addition to Loring, the Hams prefer Red Globe, Bounty, and Dixiland for North and East Texas. All are freestone peaches that ripen the first of Juy to July 23rd or 24th.
Red Globe is a freestone variety producing a large, round, dark red skinned peach with yellow flesh. This variety is eye appealling, and some sources state that it requires approximately 850 chilling hours. It ripens in the first half of July.
Bounty is described as a very good, large, smooth skinned peach. It is a high quality late bloomer. It is an attractive, freestone fruit with a cherry-red blush and yellow flesh. Some sources state that it requires approximately 800 chilling hours. It ripens in the first half of July.
Dixiland is described as a popular freestone peach with good color. According to some sources, it requires approximately 750 chilling hours. It ripens in the second half of July.
Glynn and Sandra Russell operate Newburn Farms in Center, Texas and their favorite selections are Red Globe and Harvester. As to these two varieties, they think the "best East Texas peach is the Red Globe. It matures around the first of July and has a sweet and mild taste with melting flesh." Harvester is hardy and the first freestone to ripen. The Russells describe Harvester as having excellent taste with a stronger flavor of peach than Red Globe.
Of additional interest, in an article in Mother Earth News, the author polled several growers who rated the top flavored peaches to be: Reliance, Saturn, Redhaven, Tropic Snow and May Pride.
Reliance: Reliance produces a medium sized fruit that is dark red splashed over a yellow background. This freestone peach is sweet, flavorful, and good for canning, freezing and fresh use. The tree is vigorous, fast growing, and has showy, bright pink blossoms. It is a late blooming variety. It is cold hardy and some sources state that it requires approximately 1,000 chilling hours. Fruits ripen in June.
Saturn: Also known as the Peento peach, the fruit of this variety are shaped like a doughnut, without the hole. They have large, showy double pink self-fertile flowers. The very sweet and tangy, large yellow fruit has melting white flesh. Some sources state that it requires approximately 400 chilling hours. The tree is vigorous, spreading, and resistant to bacterial leaf spot. Ripens in early July with Redhaven.
Redhaven: This is a widely planted freestone peach. Its fruit are medium to large sized and have firm yellow flesh. High quality yellow freestone. Some sources state that it requires approximately 950 chilling hours. It ripens in early July.
Tropic Snow: Tropic Snow has creamy white, delicious flesh and is a freestone type peach. Balanced acid and sugar, with superb flavor. It ripens in May, and some sources state that it requires approximately 200 chilling hours. It is from Florida, and was introduced in 1988.
May Pride: This variety produces a very early-ripening peach for warm winter climates. Ripening in May, it has delicious, sweet and tangy fruit. Very large for such an early peach. It requires approximately 175-200 hours. It is a patented variety from Zaiger.
Ripening Times and Characteristics
Here is a list of ripening times and fruit characteristics from Texas A&M's AgriLife Extension:
Variety Fruit size Type Chill hours Ripening time
To date, I myself have planted Springold, Sentinel, Ranger, Red Haven, Jefferson, Saturn, and Reliance.
When selecting your trees, it is very important to look closely at the rootstock upon which the trees are grafted. The rootstock will dictate how large the tree will get. You do not want to plant a tree that will get too big for the space in which you are placing it. You will be very disappointed and, along with the additional work entailed, the additional pruning to keep its size in check may adversely impact fruit production.
Peaches are self-fruitful.
Considerations When Planting
Nevertheless, when you plant your trees, I encourage you to add compost, Mycorrhizal fungi, and Actinovate to the backfill when you are planting.
Finally, in caring for your peach trees, I have found that the occasional spraying of Garrett Juice or compost tea seems to ward off problems for me.
Ideas on Nurseries
If you are looking for an instant orchard, your choices are limited. Check now with your local nurseries to see what varieties they are or will be caring this Spring and in what sizes. I typically only see 5 gallon containers in my local nurseries.
Bob Wells Nursery will often carry 5, 10, and 15 gallon trees, so you can try that.
Willis Orchard Company sells large trees; however be forewarned that these are going to be bare-rooted plants which can sometimes demand more TLC. (I no longer recommend using Willis Orchard Company as I have now discovered that they sent me several fruit trees that were completely different varieties. For example, they sent me standard pears instead of the asian pears I ordered!!)
Edible Landscaping also sometimes carries larger sized specimen.
If you are a more patient person and are willing to plant a smaller tree, there are a lot of options out there. Some of them include:
Nurseries Outside of Texas
If you have planted peach trees in Texas that are bearing fruit, please post a comment and share your experiences along with your favorite varieties for Texas.