Elberta peach tree pollination

Elberta Peach: America’s Favorite Peach

Prunus persica ‘Elberta’

The Elberta Peach—one of the most popular varieties of peach trees—was first introduced in Georgia in 1875 by Samuel H. Rumph. Rumph, who introduced peach tree farming to the south around the turn of the century, first cultivated the Elberta Peach after he crossed an Early Crawford and Chinese Cling, which he later named “Elberta” in honor of his wife Clara Elberta Moore.

The Elberta Peach is considered to be one of the more active peach trees, and can produce up to 150 pounds of peaches in one season. In addition to its peaches, it blooms each spring with an abundance of vibrant pink and purple flowers, followed by its harvest season around early to mid-July. Its tender sweet freestone peaches can be enjoyed a variety of different ways, and are exceptionally delicious in cobblers and pies.

Here are a few things to note if you’re considering adding one to your yard.

Environmental Conditions

  • Does best in well drained, sandy soil, is not drought-tolerant (hardiness zones 5-9). Avoid planting in dry areas with little moisture.
  • Fast growing tree, growing up to three feet a year and reaching 8-25 feet at maturity.
  • Prefers full sun, with at least six hours of direct sunlight every day.

Physical Attributes

  • Blooms dark pink to purple flowers in the spring.
  • Produces large, juicy yellow peaches that ripen from late July to early August (may be 4-6 weeks later in colder climates). Will bear crops after 3-4 years.
  • The peaches are excellent for fresh eating, desserts, canning, freezing and jam.
  • Self-fertile, although it doesn’t require a second tree to produce fruit, planting two trees is recommended for a better crop.

Tag us in a photo @arbordayfoundation of your Elberta peach tree!

Varieties for Utah: Peach

Variety Fruit size Uses Harvest Time Stone Extra Information Zone
Canadian Harmony Medium to large Fresh consumption and canning Mid to late Aug Freestone Flesh is slow to brown and fruit has a longer shelf life than other peaches 5-8
Contender Medium to large Fresh consumption Mid to late Aug Freestone Tolerant of spring frosts 4-8
Cresthaven Medium to large Fresh consumption, canning and freezing Aug Freestone Fruit is resistant to browning 5-8
Early Elberta Large Fresh consumption and canning Mid- season Freestone Resistant to bruising. One of the few varieties that can ripen well even when picked slightly green 5-8
Elberta Large Canning and fresh consumption Sept Freestone 5-8
Glohaven Large Canning and freezing Mid Aug Freestone More susceptible to spring frost 5-8
Halehaven Medium to large Fresh consumption and canning Early Sept Freestone Tree is vigorous and productive. Buds are winter-hardy. Excellent home garden variety 5-8
J.H. Hale Extra large Canning Mid- late season Freestone Requires pollination from another variety of peach or nectarine 5-9
Loring Medium Fresh consumption and canning Mid- Aug Freestone 5-8
Red Globe Very Large Fresh consumption, canning, and freezing Early to mid Aug Freestone 5-8
Red Haven Medium Fresh consumption and canning Late July Semi-Freestone Non browning fruit. Disease-resistant to leaf spot. Heavy bearing tree that is easy to grow 5-8

Canadian Harmony – Medium to large, freestone peach with 80% bright red blush when fully ripe. Ripens in mid to late August. Yellow moderately firm, non-browning flesh. Superb sweet flavor. Excellent for fresh eating and canning. A very hardy, productive variety. Longer shelf life than other peaches. Self-pollinating. Zone 5-8
Contender –Medium to large, freestone fruit, Skin is red-orange color with sweet yellow flesh. Ripens in Mid to late August. Very cold hardy, tolerant of late spring frosts. Self-pollinating. Zone 4-8
Cresthaven – Medium to large, freestone fruit is bright red over a gold background. Ripens in August. Flesh is yellow and non-browning. Good for eating, canning and freezing. Zone 5-8
Early Elberta – Large, freestone, golden yellow peach with very little or no blush. Ripens midseason. Golden yellow flesh with rich, sweet flavor. Excellent for fresh eating and canning. Most popular variety in the area. Resistant to bruising. One of the few varieties that can ripen well even when picked slightly green.
Elberta – Large, freestone, golden yellow fruit blushed with red. Ripens in September. Firm, rich, sweet, yellow flesh. Excellent for fresh eating and canning. Hardy and productive. Self-pollinating. Zone 5-8

Glohaven – Large, freestone, nearly round fruit with a highly colored skin, which is almost fuzzless. Ripens in mid August. Firm, yellow flesh with a pleasant flavor. Superior for canning and freezing. More susceptible to spring frost then other peaches. Self- pollinating. Zone 5-8
Halehaven – Medium to large, freestone fruit with red over yellow skin. Very sweet skin. Ripens in early September. Yellow, freestone flesh is juicy and flavorful. Good for eating and canning. Tree is vigorous and productive. Buds are winter-hardy. Excellent home garden variety. Zone 5-8

J.H. Hale – Extra large, freestone, round fruit with golden skin, mostly covered with red blush. Sweet, firm, yellow flesh. Great for canning. Requires pollination from another variety of peach or nectarine. Ripens mid to late season, very popular late peach. Zone 5-9

Loring – Medium, freestone fruit has a red blush over yellow background. Yellow flesh is firm, medium textured. Good for eating and canning. Ripens in mid August. Zone 5-8

Red Globe – Very large, freestone, round peach. Skin is highly blushed red over golden color. Ripens in early to mid August. Firm, yellow flesh with excellent sweet flavor. One of the most attractive peaches of the season. Excellent for fresh eating, canning, or freezing. Self-fertile. Zone 5-8

Red Haven –Medium, semi- freestone, round fruit. Golden-yellow skin with attractive red blush. Ripens in late July. Non-browning, sweet yellow flesh is firm and smooth textured. Good for canning, freezing, and fresh eating. Redhaven is the standard by which all early peaches are judged. The tree is vigorous and early bearing. Self-pollinating. Disease- resistant to leaf spot. Zone 5-8

Cooperative Extension Publications

For More Information

  • Lord, W., and A. Ouellette. 2013. Growing Peaches and Nectarines in the Home Garden (PDF). University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.
  • Parker, M. Growing Peaches in North Carolina. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.
  • Roper, T., D. L. Mahr, Growing Apricots, Cherries, Peaches, & Plums in Wisconsin (PDF). 1998. University of Wisconsin-Extension.
  • What will happen if I plant a peach pit? Michigan Peach Sponsors.

Information on Variety Selection

  • Marini, R. 2009. Peach and Nectarine Varieties for Virginia. Virginia Cooperative Extension.
  • Peach varieties. 2014. Utah State University Extension.
  • Slingerland, K., and N. Miles. 2007. Peach and Nectarine Cultivars. Ontario Ministry for Agriculture and Food.
  • Warmund, M. 2012. Home Fruit Production: Peach and Nectarine Culture. University of Missouri Extension.

Photos by Renae Moran.

Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 2014

Call 800.287.0274 (in Maine), or 207.581.3188, for information on publications and program offerings from University of Maine Cooperative Extension, or visit extension.umaine.edu.

The University of Maine is an EEO/AA employer, and does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, genetic information or veteran’s status in employment, education, and all other programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Sarah E. Harebo, Director of Equal Opportunity, 101 North Stevens Hall, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5754, 207.581.1226, TTY 711 (Maine Relay System).

Elberta Peach Trees – How To Grow An Elberta Peach Tree

Elberta peaches are called America’s favorite peach trees and are among the most prolific around, a winning combination for those with home orchards. If you want to grow an Elberta peach tree in your backyard, you’ll want a little more information on these trees. Read on for tips on how to get started Elberta peach growing.

About Elberta Peach Trees

Elberta peach trees have so much going for them that it’s hard to know where to start. This wildly popular peach variety was developed in Georgia in 1875 by Samuel H. Rumph, who named it after his wife, Clara Elberta Moore.

Those engaged in Elberta peach growing consider the tree to be among the best fruit producers. With just one tree, you can get up to 150 pounds of peaches in a season. And Elberta peaches are also extremely ornamental in the garden. When their spring blooms open, their branches are filled with gorgeous pink and purple flowers. The peach fruit soon follows and are ready to harvest in summer.

Grow an Elberta Peach Tree

Elberta peach trees give you large, sweet peaches that are perfect for canning, snacking and baking. The fruit are beautiful as well as delicious, ripening to a deep, golden yellow with a red blush.

When you are ready to grow an Elberta peach tree yourself, there are several matters to consider. First is climate. These trees thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. That means that if you live in a hot or cold area, it may not be very wise.

Another consideration is size. A standard Elberta peach tree can grow to 24 feet (7.3 m). tall with a similar spread. The dwarf version grows no taller than 10 feet (3 m.).

For Elberta peach growing, you’ll need to plant the tree in a sunny location getting at least six house of direct sun a day. The soil should be sandy and well-drained.

Care for Elberta Peaches

Care for Elberta peaches is not difficult. The trees are self-fertile, which means that they do not require a second tree for pollination. However, they may produce better if you plant a second tree.

The most important thing you need to do to care for Elberta peaches is irrigation. These trees are not drought tolerant and will require regular watering.

Issue: June 14, 1999

Semi-dwarf peach not growing

Question:

I planted a semi-dwarf Elberta peach about 6 or 7 years ago. Every year we get about the same number of peaches (25-30). They are good quality. However, the tree has not grown more than a couple of inches since we planted it. It leafs out normally, the branches grow an inch or two and stop growing. I water once a month in the winter, once a week in the spring and fall, and twice a week in the summer. I use a liquid, spray-on fertilizer just before and during its expected growth, yet it doesn’t grow. Please help me and my tree.

Answer:

Because your tree is a semi-dwarf peach, it will grow more slowly that standard-size peaches. The production of fruit also limits its growth. If you would like to see more growth, you might try removing at least half the fruit in May next year. Fertilizer with a high nitrogen analysis will also stimulate vegetative growth (at the expense of fruit production), but don’t apply such fertilizer after mid-July. Applying nitrogen too late may stimulate growth that won’t hardened for winter before your first frost.

Your watering schedule seems adequate, or perhaps too often, but your watering frequency should be determined by your soil type. How much water do you apply with each irrigation? It is important to apply water equivalent to about 80% of evaporation-transpiration (ET – water evaporated from a wet surface and transpired through plants). The “potential ET” rate is determined by measuring water evaporated from a “standard evaporation pan.” This data is available on the Weather Page of the NMSU/College of Agriculture World Wide Web Page. (This page, http://weather.nmsu.edu, is maintained by Dr. Sammis at NMSU.)

The quantity of water to apply should be 80% of that reported as evaporated (in inches) times the area of the absorptive root system times the number of days since the last irrigation. The area of the root system is (for your tree) probably a circle with a 5 to 10 foot radius around the tree. The water should be applied over this entire area (except for about a 1 to 2 foot radius next to the trunk). Since only the surface dries quickly, deeper water remains longer, so watering once a week or less should be all that is required. The soil type determines the frequency of irrigation because sandy soils hold less water than clay and should be watered more often. You can determine when to irrigate by probing the soil with a screw driver (long blade) about 3 to 5 feet from the trunk. After withdrawing the screw driver from the soil, feel the blade. If it is dry (not cool), it is time to irrigate. If the blade is cool or you can feel moisture, you can wait to irrigate. Test a few days later. It may take a few weeks for the tree’s root system to adapt to a new irrigation schedule, so change gradually.

Q. What happed to Elberta peaches? Until a year ago, I could find canned Elberta peaches in grocery stores, and now I can’t find them. My family came from Southern Illinois, and my grandmother would can bushels of them every summer. Did all the trees die?

–Loutta Brinegar, Oak Lawn

A. Except for an occasional farmers market find, Elberta peaches have disappeared commercially. But the trees didn’t die a natural death. This variety of fresh peach fell out of favor, and governmental policies taking away tariffs on imports made domestic canning cost-prohibitive.

Once the standard for peaches in this country, the old-fashioned Elberta (named for the wife of the Georgia peach grower who identified the hybrid in the 19th Century) began to be phased out after World War II as newer peach varieties were developed and introduced by university experimental agricultural stations.

Peaches are classified as either freestone or clingstone, based on how firmly the flesh grips the inner pit. Most commercially canned peaches belong to the clingstone group. Elberta peaches are classified as freestone, based on their less secure attachment to the stone.

“I was raised with Elberta peaches. At one time we harvested 60,000 bushels of Elberta from 200 acres of trees,” said Ren Sirles, a fourth-generation peach grower and owner of Rendleman Orchards in Alto Pass, Ill. Today, there’s not a single Elberta peach tree in the 130-year-old orchard.

Two factors led to the Elberta peach’s fall from favor, Sirle said: “Americans buy with their eyes; it was hard to ship them long distance ; we shipped them green.” Flavor also played a role: The peach has a slightly tart flavor, and Sirle has noticed modern American tastes shifting toward sweeter varieties.

“It got to the point we couldn’t sell them,” he said. “We haven’t grown Elberta peaches in years.”

Still, there remained a small group who appreciated the tart flavor of canned Elberta peaches.

But according to California cannery owner George Noroian–among the last canners to sell Elberta peaches–government rulings eliminating tariffs on peach imports made it impossible for U.S. companies to compete with cheaper imported fruit. Noroian said he sold canned Elberta peaches to stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Markets until three seasons ago.

“I spent a lifetime providing the finest canned fruit in the world. Now, the government has put me out of the canned fruit business,” Noroian, 88, said from Dinuba, Calif., where George Noroian Fruits still provides organic fruit puree for baby food companies under the Fruitful Valley label.

All is not lost, however. We found canned Elberta peach preserves online at www.dickinsonsfamily.com. For a crop closer to home, you can plant an Elberta peach tree; varieties are available by mail-order from Stark Brothers Nursery (starkbros.com). And George Noroian still has a limited stock of canned Elberta peaches to sell in boxes of two dozen 28-ounce cans for $60 plus shipping. Call him at 559-591-7044.

Q. My grandson loves albondigas soup and I am unable to find an authentic recipe.

–Janice Kacena, Chicago

A. Here is one version of the Mexican meatball soup from chef Rick Bayless. Though most recipes use ground meat, this one is based on a coarse puree of shrimp. When we served it in the test kitchen, one taster described it as “a delicious combination of fresh flavors.” Begin with chilled shrimp when preparing this recipe to achieve the best texture after chopping.

If you can’t find fish broth, Bayless offers a substitute: Combine 2 bottles (8 ounces each) clam juice, 1 can (14 ounces) vegetable broth and 2 1/2 cups water.

Shrimp-ball soup with roasted pepper and tomato (Sopa de albondigas de camaron)

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Adapted from “Authentic Mexican.”

8 ounces uncooked chilled shrimp, peeled, deveined, finely chopped

1 small onion, thinly sliced, plus 1/4 small onion, finely chopped

1 plum tomato, cored, seeded, finely chopped

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 can (15 1/2 ounces) chopped tomatoes, drained

1 medium fresh poblano chili, roasted, seeded, thinly sliced, see note

4 1/2 cups fish broth

1/2 cup loosely packed, chopped cilantro

2 limes, quartered

1. Combine shrimp, chopped onion, plum tomato, egg yolk, flour, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and oregano in bowl. Cover; refrigerate.

2. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat; cook onion slices until they begin to brown, about 7 minutes. Add canned tomatoes and chili; cook 3 minutes to reduce liquid. Add broth; heat to boil. Cover; reduce to simmer. Cook 15 minutes; add 3/4 teaspoon salt.

3. Drop shrimp mixture by spoonfuls to broth; continue simmering about 8 minutes. Remove from heat; ladle into bowls and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Test kitchen note: To roast chili, hold with fork over gas flame to blacken skin on all sides. Place in bowl; cover with plastic wrap until cool. Remove skin and seeds.

Nutrition information per serving:

Elberta peaches are now available | The Fresno Bee

Enzo’s Table, a fruit stand at Willow and Shepherd in Clovis, is among the local vendors who sell Elberta peaches. MARK CROSSE Fresno Bee File Photo

Big, fuzzy and flavorful, the famed Elberta peach has arrived.

It’s a peach that people crave every year, some even drive long distances to get their hands on them, others buy as much as they can haul away.

So what’s the big deal?

Elberta followers will tell you its the sweet aroma, the strong peach flavor and its fine, delicate texture. There is also, of course, its juicy flesh.

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“I have a friend that calls it the elbow peach,” says farmer Donna Knowles of Fowler. “You eat it and juice will run down all the way to your elbow. It has such a sweet, true peach flavor.”

Devotees use it to bake, make into jam or just eat fresh off the tree. Knowles uses the ripest fruit to make peach ice cream.

To buy Knowles peaches, you must call and place an order for how much you want. And don’t worry if you only want a few. Knowles has picked as few as two pounds up to 100 pounds for customers.

Most farmers in the area will have Elbertas for at least two weeks, possibly longer.

But don’t hesitate, because the fruit is in demand.

Here is a list of farmers and fruit stands that sell the Elberta peach, or the closely related Fay Elbertas:

Enzo’s Table, Clovis

  • Hours: 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
  • Location: 1959 N. Willow Ave.
  • More information: 559-298-8290

D. E. Boldt Family Farm, Parlier

  • Hours: Call for availability
  • Location: 6299 S. Lac Jac Ave.
  • More information: 559-638-7860

Knowles’ Farm, Fowler

  • Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Location: 7175 S. Peach Ave. The Knowles do not have a fruit stand, so farmers Bill and Donna Knowles recommend customers call and order peaches in advance, then pick them up at the ranch.
  • More info: 559-834-3666 or 284-1660

Mesplé Farms, Fresno

  • Hours: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily
  • Location: 7443 N. Millbrook Ave., two houses south of Alluvial Avenue
  • More info: 559-439-0104

PK Fruit Farms, Parlier

  • Location: 16070 E. Lincoln. Please call in advance for peach availability
  • More info: www.pkfruitfarms.com or 559-287-1441

Peach on Earth Farm, Fresno

  • Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 10 a.m.-4 p.m Sunday
  • Location: 4941 N. Dower Ave., just south of Shaw Avenue
  • More info: 559-843-2333

Mizuno Farms, Reedley

  • Location: 6319 S. Alta Ave. Contact farmer Rob Mizuno to order in advance and pick up at the farm. Call for availability.
  • More info: 559-289-0108

Steve Lubisich’s farm stand, Clovis

  • Hours: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, Sundays by appointment only. His stand is behind a home on Nees Avenue, just west of Willow Avenue. Look for the sign that says “Peaches” then turn into the driveway.
  • Location: Nees Avenue, just west of Willow Avenue
  • More info: 559-217-2001

Wawona Orchards, The Peach Tree fruit stand, Clovis

Robert Rodriguez: 559-441-6327, @FresnoBeeBob


Picking Peaches

When I was a kid, my parents took us peach picking every year. The picking was easy which made the stopping difficult. I can remember filling more boxes than the back of our van could hold. Each of us rode home itchy and sticky, with heavy boxes full of peaches on our laps. Ah, the memories. Well, the peach doesn’t fall far from the tree. Now it’s my turn to drag my kids out to the peach orchards. And just like my parents before me, we pick too many. Sometimes too much of a good thing is still a good thing.

This past weekend, my husband and I joined forces with my sister’s family to pick Suncrest peaches at a local orchard. Last year my sister & I picked 112 pounds. This year we wised up and brought our dad and husbands along. They lugged our overflowing boxes of peaches from the trees to our cars. Grand total? 235 pounds. See? I told you the easier they are to pick, the harder it is to stop.

My sister and I have been busy canning them as fast as they ripen. (BTW, I loved reading all the canning comments you left on this previous post.)

Although hundreds of varieties of peaches have been tested in the Willamette Valley, only a few are grown here commercially. Here are three of the most common varieties you will probably find growing in an orchard near you:

:: Elberta – These peaches are firm and freestone, meaning the pit and fruit do not cling to one another. They are good for eating fresh, freezing, or canning.

:: Sunhaven – These are usually available in early August. With our crazy weather this year, you can still find this variety at a handful of farms. They have great flavor and texture, making them good candidates for canning or eating fresh.

:: Veteran – Because they are reliable producers, Veterans are the top dogs in western Oregon. These peaches are freestone and are easily peeled without scalding, making them great canning peaches. They’re not as popular for eating fresh.

I called around to several local peach farms (go here for a more complete list). This is nowhere near an exhaustive list of the peach picking options in our area, but it should give you an idea of some of the varieties and prices available.

Early varieties are done, but later varieties will be ripening through September. As always, make sure you call ahead to confirm availability.

Sauvie Island Farms just outside Portland, OR (503) 621-3988
Veterans $1.50/lb (discount if you pick over 15 lbs.)

Albeke Farms Oregon City, OR (503) 632-3989
Suncrest (ready 8/27) & Veterans (ready next week) – .85/lb.

Kelso Blueberries Boring, OR (503) 663-6830
Veterans (ready next week) & Elberta (mid-September) – .50/lb.

Greens Bridge Gardens Jefferson, OR (541) 327-2995
3 varieties ready $1/lb.

Grandpa’s Fresh Market Albany, OR (541) 928-8778
Elbertas .95/lb.

Olson Stuart Farms Salem, OR (503) 362-5942
4 varieties of canning peaches $1/lb.

Daum’s Produce Farm Salem, OR (503) 362-7246
Elberta (not ready yet) .90/lb.

Draper Girls Parkdale, OR (541) 352-6625
Reliant $1/lb for 20+ lbs.

Firestone Farms Vancouver, WA (360)693-2492
Elbertas (next Thurs.) $1/lb. or .90/lb. for 60+ lbs.

Where is your favorite spot to pick peaches? What do you like to do with your peaches once you haul them home?

How to Can Peaches

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