- Why Do Peach Trees Need Cold And Chilling Requirements Of Peaches
- Why Do Peach Trees Need Cold?
- Chilling Requirements of Peaches
- Low Chill Peach Trees: Trees with Minimal Peach Chill Hours
- My Peach and Nectarine Trees Have Lost Their Leaves – Should Pruning Be Done Now?
- Going Dormant
- Pruning and Fruit Production
- Low-chill peaches are feeling Florida’s heat
- Best Peaches to Grow in Southern California
- Low chill peaches:
- Prolonged harvest:
- Which peaches are the best tasting?
- Peach tree care:
- Peach Tree harvest/ripening table:
- Peach Chilling Hours Requirements by Variety!
- Peach Varieties for warm climates
- Be sure to see our easy, illustrated how-to pages to make and preserve your own:
- Growing Peaches – Peach Guides for Specific States and Regions
- Home Canning Kits
- Isons 2018
Why Do Peach Trees Need Cold And Chilling Requirements Of Peaches
We usually think of peaches as warm climate fruits, but did you know there is a cold requirement for peaches? Have you ever heard of low chill peach trees? How about high chill? Chilling requirements for peaches are an essential part of fruit production, so before you order that tree from the catalog that just came in the mail, you need to ask yourself a question: Why do peach trees need cold and how much cold do they need?
Why Do Peach Trees Need Cold?
Like all deciduous trees, peach trees lose their leaves in the autumn and become dormant, but it doesn’t stop there. As winter continues, the trees enter a period called rest. It’s a deep dormancy where a short spurt of warm weather won’t be enough to “wake” the tree up. The cold requirement for peach trees is dependent on this period of rest. Why do peaches need cold? Without this period of rest, the buds that were set the previous summer can’t blossom. And if there are no blossoms — you guessed it, no fruit!
Chilling Requirements of Peaches
Are the chilling requirements of peaches important to you, the home gardener? If you want a peach tree in your garden that gives you more than shade, you’re darn tootin’ it’s important. Among the many varieties, there’s a tremendous variation in the cold requirements for peaches. If you want peaches, you need to know what the average peach chill hours are in your area.
Whoa, you say. Back up there! What are peach chill hours? They’re the minimum number of hours below 45 F. (7 C.) that the tree must endure before it receives its proper rest and can break dormancy. These peach chill hours fall between November 1 and February 15, although the most important time occurs in December through January. As you’ve probably guessed, those hours will be different in different areas of the country.
Peach chill hours can range from only 50 to 1,000 depending on the cultivar and a loss of even 50-100 of those minimum hours can reduce a harvest by 50 percent. A loss of 200 or more can devastate a crop. If you buy a cultivar that requires peach chill hours above what your area can offer, you may never see a single blossom. That’s why it’s important to know the cold requirements for peach trees before you buy and plant.
Your local nursery will carry varieties and cultivars suitable to your area’s chilling requirements. For peach trees purchased from a catalog, however, you should do your own research. And for those of you who live in warmer climates where peaches are hard to grow, there are cultivars known as low chill peach trees.
Low Chill Peach Trees: Trees with Minimal Peach Chill Hours
Cold requirements for peaches that fall under 500 hours are considered low chill peaches and most are adaptable to areas where nighttime temperatures fall below 45 F. (7 C.) for several weeks and daytime temperatures stay below 60 F. (16 C.). Bonanza, May Pride, Red Baron and Tropic Snow are good examples of low chill peaches that fall in the 200-250 hour range, although there are many others of equal reliability.
So, there you go. Next time you’re at a party and someone asks, “Why do peach tress need cold,?” you’ll have the answer; or when you plant your next peach tree, you’ll be assured it’s suitable for your area. If you’re unable to determine the cold requirements for peaches in your area, your local Extension Office can help.
As we head into the fall and winter months, we need to give a little thought to our fruit trees. Fortunately, there’s not a lot of do.
Janet Caprille, Contra Costa County Farm Advisor, offered tips for what to do between now and spring.
What to grow
Now is a good time to plant fruit trees, but there are things you should consider.
Planting the tree
Our Garden offers free gardening classes 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. every Wednesday through October. The garden is located at Wiget Lane and Shadelands Drive in Walnut Creek. Master Gardeners are available to answer your questions and diagnose disease and pests, and there is a wide variety of plants for sale.
Next time in the Garden: Caring for citrus trees, with Master Gardeners Sierra Higgins and Molly Wendt.
My Peach and Nectarine Trees Have Lost Their Leaves – Should Pruning Be Done Now?
Few of life’s simple pleasures are as satisfying as the sweet taste of a ripe peach or nectarine plucked from your own Florida tree. When your stone fruit trees are properly pruned and cultivated, you can look forward to many years of bountiful harvests. Timely tree trimming is the key to achieving great results. Waiting for trees to lose their leaves before pruning doesn’t always ensure success, however. Here’s what you need to know before making the first cut.
Stone fruit trees continue to grow vigorously for months after their fruit is harvested. Leaf fall is usually a sign that the tree is entering its annual dormant stage when the energy used for wood growth is redirected towards the production of fruit-bearing buds. The University of Florida recommends pruning peach and nectarine trees between December and February, before the first bud breaks. Correct dormant pruning is particularly important during the first few years of growth to select branches that will help the tree grow into the desired shape.
Pruning and Fruit Production
Because peaches and nectarines grow on one-year-old wood, trimming too much young growth will reduce the yield next year. Conversely, strategic pruning in the off season can potentially produce two years of growth in a single year. A second pruning in the late spring or summer can result in more fruit, but there are other factors to consider as well. You may prefer a smaller yield of larger fruit or you may want to make sure that the fruit can be easily harvested without using a ladder. Enlisting help from a tree trimming professional is the best way to ensure the outcome best for you.
With our extensive knowledge of Florida’s most popular types of stone fruit trees, Warner Tree Service helps families all over the Tampa Bay region enjoy abundant peach and nectarine harvests each year. For more information about how proper tree trimming can improve your life at home, explore our broad range of tree care services or call us today at 727-478-2864.
What are Chill Hours?
The first answer to this question is that they are approximate! Chilling is achieved at temperatures that are approximately forty-five degrees or below, roughly between November 1 and February 15, with the most benefit being derived from chilling hours occurring in December and January. These hours are cumulative and need not be continuous. Daytime temperatures above sixty degrees during this period may negatively affect the cumulative total.
Most fruit trees require some winter chill in order to set fruit. We have included the chilling requirements for most of our stock, but they should be used only as guidelines. If you are unable to determine how many chill hours you get in your area, consult your local Agricultural extension office or a local independent nursery.
If you live in an area that gets little winter chill, see our list of Low Chill Varieties. Bear in mind that many people in low chill areas have had success with varieties that are supposed to need somewhat higher hours, so experimentation can be fruitful, within limits. We do NOT, however, encourage ordering varieties that are clearly incompatible with your climatic conditions.
If you have had success with varieties that are not, strictly speaking, suitable for your area, we would like to hear your comments!
Low-chill peaches are feeling Florida’s heat
The only way peaches can grow in central and southern Florida’s subtropical climate is by using special varieties bred to tolerate low amounts of chill time, but that’s not working as well recently because the low is getting even lower.
These low-chill varieties — such as UF Sun, UF Best and Tropic Beauty — require only 100-150 chill units, said Ali Sarkhosh, assistant professor of tree fruit and viticulture at University of Florida’s Horticulture Sciences Department.
He’s also a university Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher who conducts trials on local growers’ land, such as the peach groves in Fort Pierce co-run by Riverside Citrus Harvesting and Titan Farms.
One chill unit equals one hour of temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit between the last week of October and mid-January.
“UF Sun requires only 100 chilling units, the lowest chill variety commercially around the world, but in the last four years, we didn’t have enough chilling units even for this low variety. Weather data showed they had only 50-60 chilling units.
This is a problem for our growers,” Sarkhosh said.
By teaching new peach growers about thinning the fruit and pruning, Sarkhosh is trying to improve peach size and quality.
“I’m trying to figure out how we can improve cultural practices, using fertilizers and a plant growth regulator to see if it works in those years when we don’t have enough chilling units,” he said.
Florida weather has always been unpredictable, but it’s getting more so, Sarkhosh said.
But with improved education on cultivation practices and better technology, the future of the industry is promising.
Sarkhosh estimated that the Florida peach acreage has grown from about 100 acres in 2008 to closer to 2,000 acres today — an estimate that fluctuates as different areas are affected by different weather conditions and other factors.
“If we can overcome challenges of lower chilling units and reducing labor costs like the thinning and pruning, and increasing production, this can be successful industry,” Sarkhosh said.
Best Peaches to Grow in Southern California
Tasty peaches in San Diego
Low chill peaches:
There is a group of peach tree varieties that will thrive in warmer climates (Southern California, Southern Arizona, gulf coast of Texas and Florida). These are the so called “low chill” varieties that only need a short exposure to cold winter temperatures to do well. This cold exposure time, also known as a ‘chilling requirement,’ is basically the number of required winter hours below 7 °C (45 °F). For places such as San Diego, this usually means a chilling time requirement limited to 150 to 350 hours. These are the plants I have focused on for this article (see table below).
For additional info about what your specific growing zone is, check out my article on the subject, Climate Zones: What can I grow in my yard?
If you love peaches, then you will likely want to have the longest harvest season possible. The best way to achieve this goal is to strategically pick varieties to grow that ripen at different times of the year. To help you with your selection process, I have grouped the most commonly available ‘low chill’ varieties of peaches in order of their ripening/harvest time (see below). I have also added a few short notes about each variety.
As always, I look forward to any additional insights or comments from you all to add to the list. Note, exact ripening times will vary based on your specific growing microclimate.
The Red Baron Peach. Yum!
Which peaches are the best tasting?
The good news is that home grown varieties of peaches are generally exceptional compared to grocery store bought varieties. There are two main reasons for this.
- Fruit in stores is often picked in commercial orchards before it is optimally ripe. This is done in efforts to help the fruit survive the shipping process/time.
- Commercial varieties of fruits and veggies are often selected/grown for their shipping resilience and not necessarily for their flavor.
Since taste is so subjective, the best option is to go out and try them for yourself. Many nurseries are happy to have you sample fruit before you buy (if the fruit happens to be in season). I have also starred* a few varieties on the list below that many people have reported to be extra tasty.
Home Peach harvest
Peach tree care:
For general Peach tree care check out my articles on:
- Peach Leaf Curl: A complete treatment plan
- It’s time to thin developing peach fruit
- Tree Pruning Techniques
I also have some specific articles on Tropic Snow Peach Tree Care, Red Baron Peach Tree Care, and Florida Prince Peach: tree care.
Prolific peaches ready for thinning
Peach Tree harvest/ripening table:
Very Early-Season Peaches:
- Earligrande (Ripens early-May) Yellow semi-freestone.
- Florida Prince* (Ripens mid-May) Semi-freestone. Medium to small sized peaches. Tolerant of desert heat. More specific growing and taste info via my article on Florida Prince Peach: tree care.
- Desert Gold* (Ripens May-June) Yellow clingstone. Heavy bearing.
Ripe Florida Prince peaches
- Babcock* (Ripens mid June, some sources say mid-July) white peach freestone and low in acid.
- Tropic Snow* (Ripens mid-June or some say Early-May) white freestone. More specific growing and taste info via my article on Tropic Snow Peach Tree Care.
- Early Amber (Ripens mid June) yellow semi-freestone.
- Donut* aka Stark Saturn* (Ripens June to early July) sunken center and therefore shaped like a doughnut. Mild flavor described by some as almond-like.
This Galaxy white peach, (like the Donut peach), is a also a flat peach variety. However, many report that the Galaxy needs 500 – 600 hours of chilling. Therefore, it is not officially on this list. However, I have one growing and fruiting in Northern Sand Diego.
- Bonanza Miniature Peach* (Ripens mid to late June) yellow freestone low in acid. The miniature part of the name refers to the size of the tree not the size of the fruit. Medium to large sized fruit. Bonanza Dwarf Peach is a true genetic dwarf peach that will only reach 5-6′ in height at maturity.
- 4 Star Daily News (Ripens late-June)
- Double Jewel Peach (Ripens late June) yellow freestone. Profuse, showy, double pink flowers.
- Eva’s Pride* (Ripens late June-early July. some sources say early May) yellow freestone. Medium to large-sized fruit.
- Ventura (Ripens early July). Yellow freestone. (some sources say up to 500 chill hours).
- Mid-Pride* (Ripens mid to late July) “Best yellow freestone for warm winter climates”
- Bonita (Ripens late July) yellow freestone with red blush. Medium to large sized. Sweet, subacid.
- Santa Barbara (Ripens early to late-July) red-blushed yellow freeston. Bud sport of Ventura peach red-blushed yellow freestone.
- Saturn (Ripens mid-July) Yellow freestone fruit is large, juicy, sweet, low in acid, with a fine flavor. Note, some sources report 400-500hr chilling requirement.
- Bonita (Ripens late-July) Freestone yellow flesh.
- Red Baron* (Ripens mid-July to mid August) yellow freestone fruit. Large, juicy, firm, richly flavored. Showy double red blossoms. More specific growing and taste info via my article on Red Baron Peach Tree Care.
- August Pride* (Ripens July-August) yellow freestone. Sweet, aromatic, rich flavor.
Red Baron peach flowers
Very Late-Season Peach
- Rubidoux (Ripens late-August) Yellow freestone.
- Personal Experience
- Sunset Western Garden book of Edibles (this is also a great general reference book for lots of other edible plants too)
Sunset Western Garden book of Edibles
- L.E. Cooke Company – Fruit Trees
- Dave Wilson Nursery
Peach Chilling Hours Requirements by Variety!
Looking for Peach Chilling Hours Requirements by Variety! in 2020? Scroll down this page and follow the links. And if you bring home some fruit or vegetables and want to can, freeze, make jam, salsa or pickles, see this page for simple, reliable, illustrated canning, freezing or preserving directions. There are plenty of other related resources, click on the resources dropdown above.
If you have questions or feedback, please let me know! There are affiliate links on this page. Read our disclosure policy to learn more.
Chilling hours are the minimum number of hours that a peach tree needs to get, specifically, nighttime temperatures between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit, in order to produce a good crop of peaches.. If the hours are not met (say in a warm winter), the blossoms mostly just fall off the trees and do not set fruit. Of course… temperatures can also be TOO cold!
For other information about many peach varieties (such as ripening date, size, flavor, etc.) see this page.
Peach trees (Values listed are the hours required at or below 45°F.). The map shows the typical chilling hours by area. The US map is the same chilling hours map you’ll see everywhere. The Florida map is a breakdown for that state. Why there appears th be a discrepancy within Florida (between the 2 maps) I have never been able to find out.
|Peach Variety||Chilling Requirement|
|Belle of Georgia||850|
|Shippers Late Red||850|
Peach Varieties for warm climates
For those living in Florida, southern Texas, southern California and other warm areas, the University of Florida tells us that there are several varieties that can produce a crop in those climates. That does not mean they will do well in south Florida; they still need some cold!
- FloridaCrest – 350 chill hours, melting-flesh, semi-clingstone peach for North Florida; .
- FloridaDawn – 350 chill hours melting-flesh, semi-clingstone fruit.for North Florida.
- UFGold – 200 chill hours, ripens about 80 days after blooming. Large, non-melting clingstone fruit.
- UF2000 – 300 chill hours, moderately large size non-melting clingstone peach
Climate change impacts
Be sure to see our easy, illustrated how-to pages to make and preserve your own:
- Peach picking tips
- Now, get ready to preserve your peaches – It is VERY easy – especially with our free
– peach jam instructions – they’re illustrated and easy and our page on
– how to make home canned peaches from fresh!
– Or see here to freeze peaches instead!
– make your own home canned peach pie filling to use in the winter
– or how about peach salsa?
– Peach chutney
– Spiced peaches
– peach butter
– pickled peaches?
- Here are some great and easy peach desert recipes, like
Peach pie shown at right, below,
or peach-blueberry pie
and easy peach cobbler.
Growing Peaches – Peach Guides for Specific States and Regions
- AL – Suggested Peach Varieties for Alabama
- NJ – Peach Varieties for New Jersey
- NY – Peach and nectarine varieties for New York State
- OR – Peach and Nectarine Nectarine Varieties for the Willamette Valley (Oregon)
- VA – Peach and Nectarine Varieties for Virginia
- UT – Peaches for Utah
Home Canning Kits
This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from peachesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer, and the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book. It’s much cheaper than buying the items separately. You’ll never need anything else except jars and lids (and the jars are reusable). To see !
Lids, Rings, Jars, mixes, pectin, etc.
Need lids, rings and replacement jars? Or pectin to make jam, spaghetti sauce or salsa mix or pickle mixes? Get them all here, and usually at lower prices than your local store!
Get them all here at the best prices on the internet!
PEACH TREES There is nothing better than picking and eating a fresh peach. The sign that summer has arrived is when the peach trees are loaded down with this mouth-watering fruit. The peach is categorized by either freestone or cling style, the freestone seed comes out easily where the cling style clings to the inside of the peach. The peach is widely grown across the United States and is one of the best fruits to ripen from May-September. Note: Cross-pollination is not required with Peaches and Nectarines. Bell of Georgia – Large freestone. Old time favorite. Firm white flesh. Highly flavored. Excellent for fresh eating and canning. Delicious flavor. Heavy producer. Good for cold areas. Ripens 3 days before Elberta. 800 chill hours. Zones 5-8. Available in Instant Orchard. Dixieland – Very large, yellow flesh, freestone peach. A favorite that grows great throughout the southeastern U.S. and the cooler areas of the Gulf Coast. Sweet and very juicy. Ripens 3 days prior to Elberta. 750 chill hours. Zones 5-8. Elberta – One of the most popular peach varieties. Yellow melting freestone under a yellow with red blush skin. Excellent quality. Very productive. Ripens approx. July 25th. 950 chill hours. Zones 5-8. Available in Instant Orchard. Early Grande – Large. Yellow skin with a red blush. Firm, excellent flavor, fine texture, yellow flesh. Semi- freestone. Heavy producer. Excellent early, mild winter peach. Ripens 55 days before Elberta. 275 chill hours. Zones 5-9. Florida Crest – A very flavorful medium size peach. It is an ideal peach for the deep south with low chill hour requirements. An early variety that ripens approximately 47 days before Elberta. 400 chill hours. Zones 6-10. Florida King – Large yellow fleshed peach with bright red skin. A heavy bearer with a low chill requirement making it an excellent choice for growers in the deep South. Fruit is firm and very sweet. Clingstone. Ripens 57 days before Elberta. 400 chill hours. Zones 6-9. Harvester – Excellent peach with beautiful pink and white blooms and fragrant flowers. One of the highest yielding peach trees available. Produces throughout the summer. Fruit is very juicy and excellent for eating right off the tree. Also great for freezing or canning. 750 chill hours. Ripens 21 days before Elberta. Zones 5-9. Loring – Taste test winner. Superb large yellow freestone. Excellent flavor and texture, low acid. Harvests over 2-3 week period, mid-late July. Requires little or no thinning. Excellent for home orchard. 750-800 chill hours. Zones 5-8. Majestic – One of the largest peaches you can grow. Very juicy and full of flavor. One peach is enough to be an entire snack! Naturally resistant to disease. Produces more fruit than your average fruit tree. An excellent variety to add to your orchard. 800 chill hours. Zones 5-10. Red Globe – A beautiful peach, very large, freestone, firm and is mostly red blushed. Its flavor is wonderfully sweet. Excellent for fresh eating, ice cream, canning, freezing and cooking. Crops are consistent. Ripens 13 days before Elberta. 800 chill hours. Zones 5-8. Red Haven – Great all purpose peach with medium sized red fruit. Low maintenance and easy to grow! Blooms late. Ripens late July. Self- pollinating. 800 chill hours. Zones 5-8. Redskin – Large. Skin deep red over yellow. Freestone. Flesh yellow, melting, non-browning, firm, fine flavor. Vigorous, fast growing tree. Excellent qualities for eating. Ripens 2 days before Elberta. 750 chill hours. Zones 5-8. Available in Instant Orchard. 14 www.isons.com ISON’S NURSERY & VINEYARDS – (800) 733-0324 PEACHES • NECTARINES Peaches 2 year Size: 4-5’ Branched 1/2” Caliper $23.95 Instant Orchard 6-7’ 1” Caliper $58.95 Sure Prince – Wonderful large peach with bright red skin over a creamy yellow flesh. This peach is great for fresh eating and baking. Ripens 35 days prior to Elberta. 900 chill hours. Zones 4-8. BELL OF GEORGIA DIXIELAND EARLY GRANDE FLORIDA CREST FLORIDA KING HARVESTER MAJESTIC LORING NECTARINE TREES Karla Rose – White flesh, freestone with deep red skin. Fruit is large, sweet and juicy. Cold hardy and tolerates late frosts. Ripens late June. 600 chill hours. Zones 5-8. Sunglo – Large smooth skinned, high quality fruit has bright red skin with a yellow blush. Flesh is sweet, firm and very juicy. Has long shelf life which makes it excellent for packing, shipping and roadside markets. Ripens early August. 800 chill hours. Zones 5-8. Sure Crop – Large, bright red fruit with thin, smooth skin over white flesh that is sweet, juicy and mellow. A consistent producer of high quality fruit. Ripens late July. 400 Chill hours. Zones 5-9. Nectarines 2 year Size: 4-5’ Branched 1/2” Caliper $23.95 Instant Orchard 6-7’ 1” Caliper $58.95 Nectarines, like peaches, are a fast growing tree that produces early. A mature nectarine tree will rarely get over 10-12’ tall. Nectarines are sweet just like peaches but without the fuzz on the skin. It is truly a delicious fruit with meat more similar to a plum. KARLA ROSE SUNGLO DWARF PATIO PEACHES Bonanza – Medium to large fruit. Yellow skin with red blush. Yellow fleshed freestone. Ripens mid-late June. Mature height: 5-6’. 450 chill hours. Zones 5-9. Southern Flame – Large, yellow skin overspread with red. Firm, crisp, melting, yellow flesh. Freestone. Great aroma. Ripens early-mid July. Mature height: 5’. 400 chill hours. Zones 5-9. These rare and unique plants will add a “Wow” to your patio. Only 4-6’ tall. Perfect for containers. These beautiful trees will astound you with full double pink blooms in the spring, followed by deep red leaves that stay the summer. Produces delicious edible peaches. BONANZA SOUTHERN FLAME RED HAVEN SURE PRINCE REDSKIN RED GLOBE Patio Peaches 1/2” Caliper $23.95 SURE CROP