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.
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.
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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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)
- L.E. Cooke Company – Fruit Trees
- Dave Wilson Nursery