Factors Affecting Peach Tree Flowering
Peach trees do well in USDA growing zones 4 through 8, and each variety has its optimum zone and temperature requirements. When planting a new peach tree, start by identifying your growing zone and selecting varieties to match the zone where you live.
Peach trees bloom and develop ripe fruit over the longest period of time of all fruits. Flowering starts in February or March and fruit ripens as early as May and as late as the end of September, depending on the variety and local weather conditions.
Peaches produce flowers and fruit on twigs which are one year old, and pruning out old wood is important for keeping a tree productive. Prune peach trees in late winter or early spring before buds have opened.
The Importance of Chill Hours for Blooming
In order to bloom, peach trees need to spend a certain amount of hours in temperatures between 33° and 45°F (.5° and 7.2°C) when the tree is dormant. This is known as the chill hour requirement, and it varies considerably between peach varieties.
Peach blossoms are easily damaged by cold temperatures, and loss of flowers means loss of fruit. Plant peach varieties needing slightly fewer chill hours than what your area receives in order to prevent loss of flowers to cold weather.
Peach varieties with low chill hour requirements are the varieties which will bloom and fruit the earliest. Plant low chill hour peaches in areas with the mildest winters. Low-chill varieties include:
- Eva’s Pride – 100 to 200 hours
- Mid Pride – 250 hours
- Red Baron – 200 to 300 hours
Mid-season peaches have longer chill-hour requirements, and they bloom and fruit a bit later. These varieties include:
- Elbert – 750 hours
- Oldewild – 550 hours
- Goldprince – 650 hours
The latest blooming peach varieties are the ones with the longest chill-hour requirements, these are the varieties to plant in areas with the coldest winters, and they include:
- Cresthaven – 850 hours
- Emery – 900 hours
- Reliance – 1000 hours
- Contender – 1050 hours
Staggering Varieties for Extended Bloom
You can extend your peach harvest by selecting several different varieties with chill hour requirements covering the range in your area. Doing this lets you harvest peaches over the longest time possible for your growing area.