Selecting Varieties

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting varieties of peaches to grow. Some of the considerations are:

  1. Fruit characteristics such as taste, size, and tendency to brown.
    • The Norman variety is an example of a low browning peach, which makes it a favorite for canning. Also, it looks fresh longer after it is cut up and placed n a fruit bowl. We have found that the Rubired variety can be extremely sweet but the fruit size can be small.
  2. Ripening date.
    • We have slected varieties which will ripen over much of the summer, from late June (Derby, Hamlet) to early September (Emery). Midseason peaches make up the majority of our acreage (Red Haven, Norman, Ellerbe) since these peaches are the most popular and public interest in buying peaches seems to be highest in July.
  3. Cling vs. Freestone
    • Varieties differ greatly in size, color, flavor, time of ripening, disease resistance and other characteristics.
  4. Chilling Hours Requirements
    • The chilling hours requirements controls the time of bloom This is an important consideration - especially in frost prone areas - since a few days delay in blooming can sometimes make the difference in having a full crop and having heavy losses due to frost.
    • For example, the Norman peach requires 850 chilling hours and Contender requires 1,050 chilling hours. These varieties bloom later than varieties that require 750 hours or less and are less likely to be damaged by late spring frosts.

What is the Difference Between Clingstone and Freestone Peaches?

An important characteristic is how easily the pit can be pulled away from the rest of the peach. If the flesh of the peach does not pull away easily it may be necessary to cut the peach flesh away from the pit, especially if the peach is not fully ripened. These peach varieties are called cling peaches. Varieties that loosen readily and can be easily pulled away from the peach flesh are called openstone. Some varieties are in between and are semi-openstone.

While openstone varieties are generally considered more desirable, many cling peach varieties offer the advantages of:

  • Earlier ripening date - Very important when you have waiting all winter for the taste of fresh peaches
  • Some cling varieties are especially flavorful and as they ripen the pit begins to pull away more easily
  • Cling peaches are generally considered most desirable for canning whole (spice peaches).

The Lawrence Family Orchard includes a number of varieties which ripen over a long season from late June to early September.