Mouthwatering Peaches

    • Fall vegetables can be planted now for a fall harvest of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chard and lettuce. Onions can also be planted now.
    • Wisteria trees need to be trimmed throughout the summer. Keep long tendrils trimmed back to maintain the shape of the tree.
    • Plant beets now for fall harvest. They will have a deeper red color than beets planted for spring harvest, and tend to have higher sugar levels too.
    • Budworms eat the petals of geraniums and petunias, leaving you with no flowers. Spray plants weekly with BT for complete control.
    • Trim grapevines to allow more sun to reach the fruit and sweeten the grapes, if they are being shaded heavily by the foliage.

Mouthwatering Peaches for your Orchard

This is a great year for summer stone fruit in Willits, and the peaches are delicious! Mild spring weather allowed trees to pollenate successfully and bring in bumper crops. If you missed out on the harvest, you might consider planting a peach tree in your orchard.

There are hundreds of different peach varieties, but basically there are two types, the freestones and the clingstones. In freestone types, the flesh separates readily from the pit. In the clingstone type, the flesh clings tightly to the pit. Freestone types are usually preferred for eating fresh or for freezing, while clingstone types are used primarily for canning. Fruit may be either yellow or white-fleshed.

Nothing compares to the taste of tree-ripe peaches. The main challenges to growing good peaches in our area are late spring frosts and a disease known as “peach leaf curl.” Selecting varieties that are both late-blooming and resistant to peach leaf curl will result in the best crops.

Frost, Q-1-8 and Indian Free are excellent choices. Frost is a delicious yellow freestone while Q-1-8 and Indian Free are both white peaches with rich flavor. Other peach varieties which can be grown in our area are Redhaven, an old-time favorite, Donut, a unique white peach with a sunken center (shaped like a doughnut), Elberta, the most popular of all peaches, Reliance, a cold-hardy peach that is a favorite for canning, and Gold Dust, an early peach with golden juicy sweetness.

Most peach cultivars do not require cross pollination and a single peach tree can be expected to bear crops in the home orchard. However, two or three different trees will extend the season and provide fruit over a couple of months.

Standard trees grow 15 to 25 feet tall if unpruned, but can be kept to 10 to 12 feet with consistent pruning, especially summer pruning. The best standard rootstock for our area is Lovell, which has a vigorous root system that is tolerant of wet soil or heavy soil. St. Julian is a good dwarfing rootstock that dwarfs trees to 80% of standard, and has good anchorage and excellent vigor. Trees on St. Julian tolerate wet soil as well as drought conditions. Citation rootstock dwarfs peaches to 8-14 ft. Trees will be very tolerant of wet soil but not drought tolerant. Citation rootstock induces heavy bearing at a young age.

Peach trees require full sunlight. If possible, select a site with a raised elevation or on a slope, so that cold air can drain away from the tree on a cold night during bloom. Trees need well drained soil as roots will not tolerate soils where water remains on or near the surface for more than one hour after a heavy rain.

Peaches do not bear a crop every year in our climate, but when they do a single tree can produce 200 pounds of luscious, juicy fruit.

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