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Red Baron Peach Tree Care

Red Baron Peach 

(Prunus persica)

 

Red Baron Peach tree overview:

The Red Baron Peach tree produces super tasty peaches and amazing flowers.  It is one of a few peach trees that grows well in Southern California.

 

Fruit Appearance:

The fruit is about the same size as a typical grocery store peach.  Yellow with large splashes of red.

Red Baron Peach.2

Nearly ripe Red Baron Peach

Fruit Taste:

  • This is a really tasty peach.  This firm and juicy fruit has a sweet rich flavor with mildly tart overtones.
  • The Red Baron Peach always rates super high on taste tests.   However, you may not see it at the store because it does not keep well.
  • It is a freestone peach (flesh easily separates from the seed).
Cut Red Baron Peach

Red Baron Peach cut in half

Fruit Season:

This is a late season peach (August).   They are ready to harvest when they are fully colored and pull off easily from the branch with a gentle twist.

 

Pollination: 

Self-fruitful.

 

Landscaping use: 

  • The red-frilled flowers are big and bold (this is where the peach gets its name).  The tree looks awesome in the spring/April when full of flowers.
  • Like all peaches, it is deciduous so it will drop its leaves in the winter.
  • Adequate pruning/training is needed to  keep this fast growing tree in check and create a strong structure to prevent the branches from breaking under the weight of the fruit.
  • On that note, almost all peaches will produce too much fruit.  If the fruit is not thinned out you will get a lot of small less desirable fruit.  Therefore, in the spring when the fruit is still small, remove the smallest fruit so that each of the remaining fruit on the branches are about 10 inch apart.
  • For more information about thinning peach fruit, check out my short article titled “It’s time to thin developing peach fruit”  http://tastylandscape.com/2013/04/23/25/
  • Mature tree height and spacing is about 12 to 15 feet but can be easily pruned to a smaller size.
Red Baron peach flower

Awesome Red Baron Peach flowers

Soil:

Like all peach trees, it does best in rich well draining soil. Sandy deep loam is great.  Clay soil is not so good.

RedBaron Peach Flowers

Red Baron Peach flowers completely coating the branches

Water:

Regular watering typical for stone fruits.  Watering 3x a week has been working for me.  Don’t let it dry out.  Heavy mulching and rich organic soil will help to keep it from drying out (and save on your water bill).

 

Sun:

Needs full sun.

The peach in the pictures was initially planted in partial shade when I moved to this property.  When I discovered it, it was looking rather sickly with gummy sap oozing from the branches.  I transplanted it to a full sun location with rich soil and it has recovered amazingly without any other treatment.

 

Fertilization:

Balanced fertilizer in the spring (around the time of bud break).   About ½ a pound of fertilizer per year-age of the tree (up to five pounds per tree) spread evenly over the root zone.

 

Temp:

  • Like all deciduous trees it needs a chilling time so it will drop its leaves.  Without an adequate chilling time, the tree will produce a small crop and will eventually die. However, the Florida Prince Peach tree has a very low chilling requirement of about 250-300 hours so it’s a non-issue in Southern California.
  • (Chilling time = total hours per winter below 45 degrees).
  • Another great low chill choice for Southern California is the Florida Prince Peach.  Here is a link to an article I recently wrote about that peach. http://tastylandscape.com/2013/04/26/growing-the-florida-prince-peach/

 

 

Pests:

  • The major pest is peach leaf curl.  This is a fungus that makes the leaves look warty and disfigured.  This results in a less-healthy and less-productive tree.   To combat peach leaf curl, apply antifungal spray at bud break and at leaf drop.  I use copper antifungal spray, but there are other alternatives.    Peach leaf curl is a bigger problem in damp areas or in areas with a very rainy/wet spring.  Reapplying sprays may be necessary in areas with frequent rainfall during bud break.  Some people will add horticultural oil to the antifungal spray to help it to stay on the leaves in particularly rainy areas.  The oil in the spray mix will also help also combat other pests such as scale.  Got to this websites drop down menu to read more about pests.
  • Some gardeners have trained their trees in a thin fan-shape along a south facing wall/under an eve to promote dry leaves and reduce the incidence of peach leaf curl infection.
  • For some additional information about dealing with peach leaf curl, check out my post “Peach Leaf Curl: A complete treatment plan” http://tastylandscape.com/2013/04/24/how-to-treat-peach-leaf-curl/

 

  • Like many living in California, I am surrounded by gophers.  Therefore, I cage tree roots of all my fruit trees at the time of planting.
  • Some people have reported that fighting the birds and squirrels is a major issue.  However, I haven’t run into that problem (yet) with my peach trees.
  • For other fruiting plants, I use Holographic Bird Scare Tape that works rather well at keeping the birds away.  I am sure I will be using the tape if and when the birds notice the peaches.  If you are going to use glitter tape, it is best to only use it during the fruit season so that the birds don’t get use to it.  A very similar product is Flash Tape but I haven’t tried that.

 

Food uses:

You name it, it’s an awesome peach.

 

Misc:

Peach and nectarine trees are native to China.

About Thomas Osborne, MD

Dr. Osborne is a Harvard trained Radiologist and Neuroradiologist who loves to share his insight about medicine and gardening.

22 comments

  1. Dear Dr. Osborne,
    Your website and information was most enjoyable and informative. I must admit I am a novest to the art of Dwarf tree growing. However the space in my garden only allows for them. Currently, I am reaping the rewards of a Meyer Lemon and the Red Baron.
    I look forward to continued writings on your topics, as I’m sure I will enjoy reading them.
    Sincerely,
    Charles Arnott

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Charles
      Thank you so much for the thoughtful comments.
      Let me know if there are any questions that I can help you with and ill do my best to answer them.
      I am also always open to ideas if you have any personal growing insights.
      Best,
      Tom

  2. Christopher hUnter

    Hey DR.

    I recently purchased (2) 15 gallon Red Barrons and 1 Saturn Peach tree…Both purchased for their showy double blossom and harvest fruit. I live in the temecula region in riverside county. After reading your post i have become extreemly worried considering the soil is practically hard rock clay. I spent almost 500 dollars on these trees with delivery and planting….Is my investment doomed to die?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Christopher
      Thanks for the great question.

      First off, great choice on the peaches, they are both great.

      And Fall is a great time to plant peach trees… The best time is the Winter when they are leafless and “asleep.”
      However, our current heat wave will be a challenge for the trees. Therefore, I would go out of my way to err on the side of watering more at this critical time.

      As far as your specific question; plants want to live. We can do things to promote health like the things mentioned in my post, but if you don’t do those things it does not mean the tree will die.
      The tree may not grow as fast or produce as much fruit and will likely need more fertilizer and watering given your current planting setup. Without starting over, you could try to pile compost around the root zone in hopes that it would eventually filter down…. this is a rather slow method.

      On a side note: $500 for 2 trees is rather expensive.
      There are lots of great places in So-cal that should sell you a tree for a ton cheaper.

      • Christopher hUnter

        It definately was a pretty penny. I believe the 2 Red barrons were around 120 a piece, and the Saturn Peach was not to far from that. Considering they were 15 gallons at about 9 ft tall, It seemed like a really good deal considering I scoured the Earth and all the Nurseries to find out Red Barrons sell out quick before the fall season and the price for that size was just little more than average. I got charged a bit extra becuase they were delevered from San Diego to Temecula plus planted… So DR. do you think if dig a hole with maybe a 180 radius about 3 ft deep around the original pot base of the plant and throw some soil enrichment/ composte in place this would help my desperate soil needs. I would do a full 360 radius but these trees are planted on a slope on my side yard which might be a bit difficult. I’m guessing that the root system hasnt expanded outside the original pot base so far so i wont cause any damage? and that the roots will hopefully travel to this 3 feet deph that i will be preparing? any thoughts.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Christopher
          That is a very interesting idea. I haven’t tried that, but it seems like it may help… In theory.
          However, it would also be very difficult to dig out an area like this and not disturb the roots of the newly planted tree.
          In fact, I would imagine that it would be much more difficult to do this method than digging a similar sized hole from scratch.

          I am not sure what the right answer is for you here.
          On one hand digging up the trees right now-to start over-is a major risk that I would avoid… Well I would tell anyone to avoid digging up a newly planted tree… but honestly I would think about doing it myself… And I have done it myself and killed a tree in the process.

          Another option is just let it be. Do a nice rich topdressing of compost over the root zone (and avoid having the compost touch the trunk). It should live.

          Another option is to wait till the coldest months of winter and dig it up to start over. Really, these deciduous trees are rather durable in the winter. But then again doing that would be a major hassle too.

          Oh, as a side note.
          If you are still looking for additional trees you should look into Clausen Nursery.
          Its a hidden 3rd generation nursery with very good prices.
          These people are just good hard working folk.
          I dont have any financial stake in their business, I just like them, their trees and the prices. (15 gal trees are in the $50-60 range).
          I wrote a blog post about them a while back that has all the info you should need. I would call them first to see if they have what you want in stock.
          http://tastylandscape.com/2013/04/30/clausen-nursery-one-of-the-best-values-around/

          • Christopher Hunter

            Well i haven’t really developed that green Thumb yet, so i will not be attempting to dig the trees up this winter and recondition the soil. I can only hope that providing a layer of composte around the Pot base will suffice with the correct amount of semi annual fetilizer added during the feeding season. I am kind of optimistic on how the tree will do considering their our several fruit trees on my property that were already there when i purchased the home. The citrus fruit the tres produce is actually really good. I’m not sure if they conditioned the soil or what not but hopefully their is a chance. Honestly I bought the Red Barron and Saturn mainly for the double blossoms…If i at least get that, I’ll be happy.

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Yea, I agree. Should be fine.
            My posts are just about optimizing things.. But like I said, plants want to live.
            However, for you now.. you just need to water it a lot these days… it’s so hot right now.
            Thanks,
            T

  3. My orchard backyard is plagued with Gophers attacking underground and squirrels and birds above ground. These play havoc with my cherries and peaches especially so I bought a BB gun but so far I have only managed to shoot one squirrel in the past 5 years because they are pesky and smart and my aim is not very good ;-(
    Anyway, when I read your article about Holographic tape, I immediately ordered it on Amazon and it was just delivered. I will put it up in the trees over the next 2 months because my Florida Prince and Desert Gold Peaches are just budding and will not produce peaches till May. The Babcock, JH Hale, Strawberry, El Grande Peaches are at least a month behind. Of course the Stella, Bing, Black Tartarian, Rainier and Van Cherries will be another 2 months later still. Are there any special tricks to deploying the tape apart from twisting it in a spiral to maximize reflectivity? Thanks for your advice.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thise squirrels seem a little too smart for their own good.
      They have outsmarted all kinds of traps.

      As far as the holographic tape:
      I have found this to be very effective tool but it works best if you follow a few tips.
      1. dont put it on the tree till your fruit is about 2 weeks away from ripe. If you leave the tape on for too long, then the birds and squirrles get use to it and then it is less effective.
      2. I use a strip of reflective tape that is about 1 to 1.5 foot long (it effectively becomes a bit shorter when you tie it to the tree). I square not seems to work well.
      3. I try to put the strips in the most wind exposed parts of the tree and where the most fruit are.
      4. I have not tried to make a spiral in the tape… but that is an interesting idea. I just put the tape on as it comes off the role.
      5. I also take down the tape after harvest so the freeloaders don’t get use to it.

  4. Wow! I did not realize that Red Baron Peaches were so expensive. I bought a 4 foot tall healthy specimen from Summer Winds Nursery in San Jose during their winter sale 2 years ago and paid only $40. It has turned out well in spite of our soil being almost rock and clay. I put a generous amount of top soil and mulch and fertilizer which seems to have done the trick. You are right about watering it well. It needs almost as much water as my Babcock Peach which is also known as the Water Peach!

  5. Hello Dr, thanks for all the information. We just got a house and a red baron peach tree came with it, right now it is in full bloom but the only problem is that the old owner planted it in front of the house right next to a window and foundation of the house.
    We want to move it but don’t know what is the best tine to do it? Will really apreciated your answer back. Thank you so much!!!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Jacelyne
      It sounds like its a good idea to move your tree.
      The best time to transplant any type of stone fruit (such as a peach) is in the winter when the tree is still dormant (sleeping).
      At this stage, the trees are very durable.
      This would also be a good time to prune the branches.
      As the tree wakes up (puts out leaves) they tend to be a bit more sensitive but can still be transplanted with more care.
      Best,
      Tom

  6. Dr. Osborne,
    Thank you for all this great info! I am very concerned, researching how much root space trees need. I realized we may have a problem with our tiny back yard. Could we be causing expensive damage for the future, having roots grow into the foundation of our home? How much root space to I need for a Red Baron peach? One other piece of info: I live in the desert with rocky, sandy soil. I’m not sure how that will come into play.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks Juana
      Great question.

      Root zone:
      In general, trees roots extend (their root zone) out to a distance that is little wider than the trees branches.
      If the tree is up against a structure, the roots will go where ever they can to meet that proportional size.

      Foundation:
      Unfortunately, if a tree is against the foundation of a house, the roots can damage the foundation.

      Tree:
      In addition, growing up against a house may not be good for a tree. Intense reflected heat and light bouncing off the walls can burn leaves… and poor airflow and/or shade can promote fungus growth such as peach leaf curl.

      Transplant:
      I would strongly consider transplanting your tree.
      The best time to do this is in the winter or very early spring before the leaves come out.
      Regardless of the time of year that you transplant, it is always helpful to water the tree really good the day before transplantion.
      Also, avoid transplanting in the middle of a hot day where water stress on the plant will be greatest.
      Also, dig the transplantion hole first so the tree is not waiting around to go to its new home after it is dug up.

      Space:
      One idea that I have heard a lot of people talking about is to plant multiple (3) trees in one hole.
      If they are all different types of peaches (for example) they may eventually grow together into one hybrid tree.

      Soil:
      Desert rocky soil is a challenge for anyone.
      Peach trees love rich sandy soil. So you have half of it. You just need to add in organic material such as grow mulch, compost, etc.
      Peaches also need a decent amount of water so lots of mulch on top of the root zone will help to retain soil moisture and keep your water bill down.
      In the desert, depending on the intensity of the sunlight, you may need to plant in an area that gets some partial shade protection in the hottest parts of the day.
      Try to see how others in your area plant similar trees or ask a locally owned nursery for general regional guidence.

      Hope this helps.

      Best,
      Tom

  7. Dr. Osborne,

    I recently purchased a Red Baron tree for planting in our new homes backyard. It was planted in very late March, with just a few leaves on the beautifully shaped branches. Now, there are no leaves on the tree, and no obvious signs of new leaf formation. I have tried the thumbnail test, scratching away a spot on the tree, and there is green, telling me the tree is still alive.

    What might be wrong? I was so looking forward to fresh peaches from our own garden. We grow only chemical free fruits and vegetables, so I really don’t want to use any in this instance.

    Any ideas or suggestions are certainly welcomed!

    Thank you,
    Charlie S.

    • Christopher hUnter

      Something tells me this tree ether went into an extremely late dormancy, or this tree is in a severe state of shock…If it was dying, the leaves would probably have become wilted,limbs become droopy or some other signs of a serious condition…

      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        Hey Chris.
        Whats going on… Do you have leaves that have come out or is it still looking like just branches?
        Fill me in on what your seeing and ill do my best to help.
        T

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Charlie
      Great question.

      Background:
      I have 5 different varieties of peaches at my place.
      I have strategically picked those varieties because they fruit at different times of the year-giving me fruit from spring to fall.
      The Red Baron is the latest to fruit of all of them. It is also the latest one to leaf out.

      Late Bloomer:
      So not to worry, the Red Baron Peach tree is a late bloomer (in every way).
      My Red Baron Peach tree just started to leaf out about 2 weeks ago.

      In addition, I have found that new plantings seem to leaf out later than a mature tree of the same variety.
      I suspect that this is because the newly planted tees are putting their energies to a new root system and then to the leaves.

      Chemicals:
      No need for systemic chemicals, just make sure it gets regular deep watering.
      However, you might want to consider using a antifungal spray on the buds before they open up. This is necessary to avoid leaf curl.

      Best,
      Tom

      • Thank you Dr. Osborne. I will keep watering as usual, or perhaps a bit more, as we’re already reaching 90 here in SC. I’ll keep you in the loop.

  8. I have a red baron dwarf tree – how do i know if it’s asleep / alive – I live in orange county. There are no leaves currently on the tree.. I give it full sun and water it regulary

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Jeremy
      Good question.
      Red Baron peach trees ‘leaf out’ later in the season than most trees.
      This can definitely be concerning…
      However, I would give it a bit more time, as this particular type of tree tends to be a late bloomer.

      However, there are some ways to check the vitality of a dormant tree:
      For example, if the branches easily flex when you bend them a bit that is a good sign. Dead branches tend to snap – not bend.

      If you dig your thumbnail into the bark of a small branch it should be soft and may show some moisture.

      If you cut or pull away a small area of bark, the layer just under the surface should have some green to it.

      Since any of these tests can damage a branch, I would hold off on trying them till you just cant wait anymore and are ready to start over.

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