The peach is an iconic fruit in the southeastern United States, and many backyard gardeners consider a peach tree to be a good addition to their gardens. Planting season is upon us. Peach trees should be planted during winter while fully dormant. One of the most common questions from backyard growers is always, “What is a good variety to plant?” Here are a few other questions to think about when purchasing a peach tree for your backyard.
Do I really want a peach tree? Many gardeners get frustrated when they have not harvested a single fruit several years after planting (the first harvest should typically happen 2.5 years after planting). In addition, peaches in the Southeast attract many insect pests and diseases that will require either a spray program throughout the growing season or the use of paper bags to protect the fruit. For more information see, HGIC 2209, Peach Diseases and HGIC 2210, Peach Insects.
Peach or nectarine? While they are the same species (nectarines are fuzzless peaches), nectarines are more susceptible to pest damage because of the lack of fuzz.
Where to purchase a tree? Even before thinking of which variety to choose, it is important to identify a reliable source that offers varieties that can grow well in your area. Local nurseries typically have varieties that are adjusted to our climates (home improvement stores do not always do that) and, thus, are a good source. Most fruit trees sold at local nurseries are grown from tree nurseries in Tennessee and, while many of them only sell to commercial growers, some also sell (and ship) trees to backyard growers.
Which variety? Here are some yellow-fleshed peaches with excellent fruit quality:
Coastal Plain: Carored, Spring Flame 20 (aka Burpeachfourteen), Empress, Juneprince
Midlands and Upstate: Scarletprince, Redlobe, Julyprince, Redskin, Winblo, Early Augustprince, Flameprince
Other recommended varieties can be found at HGIC 1354, Peaches & Nectarines.