It is the ideal time to plant fruit trees in Texas. The selection
of varieties is good, and the trees are cheaper than they will
be at any other time of the year. Furthermore, trees which are
planted now will have an opportunity to establish a root system
before warm spring temperatures force them to bloom and form
When most people think of fruit, they think of peaches. No
other fruit has added a word to our language that is synonymous
with sweetness, fairness and excellence. The term "peach"
has come to mean something (or, actually anything) that is unusually
fine and dandy, and particularly good in its class. Such commonplace
usage as "he's a peach to work with", "Irish
Setters are peachy dogs", "her complexion is like
peaches and cream" and "you're a peach of a person"
attest to this fact.
Nothing tastes like a peach except a peach. It is sweet and
it is tart at the same time. It is a delicious, juicy and versatile
fruit that grows on a low?spreading, freely branching tree.
The peach tree is as admired for its beauty and the fragrance
of its flowers, as it is for its fruit.
Nothing looks like a peach. Its oval shape is broken with
a well?defined crease that has inspired songwriters for generations.
As has its soft?to?the?touch skin. Its subtle color variations
have attracted the eyes of artists for thousands of years and,
in recent decades, the attention of cosmetic manufacturers.
Depending on the variety of the peach, the under-color can range
from creamy to gold (such nice tones) and the crimson tint that's
known as the "blush" varies from deep to almost pastel.
The flesh of the peach can be white or it can be yellow. Most
of the commercial varieties in the United States are yellow?fleshed.
However, some of the delicious, sweet, white-fleshed varieties
can be found at roadside markets. Europe still has several commercial
Whether white or yellow, the flesh is always streaked with
red at the pit or "stone." Peaches are customarily
classified in two general categories: freestone and clingstone.
A freestone peach is just what the name implies. The fruit parts
readily from the stone or pit. The clingstone is a more solid
fruit and is more difficult to separate from the pit. Clingstone
peaches are used primarily for commercial canning.
It was long thought that peaches originated in Persia, a belief
fed by their botanical name, Prunus persica. Authorities are
now in general agreement that China was the original home of
the peach. The fruit has been cultivated in China since at least
the tenth century B.C. Peaches were mentioned in Chinese literature
earlier than 2000 B.C. References to "tao" (a pretty
way of saying peach) are found in fifth century B.C. writings
of Confucius. Its oval shape and delicate coloring are depicted
on ancient works of Chinese ceramic art. Apparently, peaches
didn't arrive in Persia until some time after 1500 B.C. The
Spaniards brought peaches to the New World, including to what
is now known as Florida. The first English colonists in Virginia
found peaches growing wild, probably as a result of the Spaniard's
introduction. They began plantings, as did the French in Louisiana.
The Indians, as they moved further west ahead of the settlers,
spread peach culture across the country.
Before some of you go peach-seed-planting crazy, I must warn
you that planting seed is not the best way to propagate peaches.
If you plant a seed of a good peach fruit that you have eaten,
the resulting tree will not produce the same type of fruit that
you desire. The fruit could be much smaller and poorer in quality.
Remember that a seed results from the pollination of one peach
flower by the pollen of another peach flower, possibly from
another tree, so the resulting off-spring will differ from either
parent. The surest method of getting what you want is to plant
a budded tree. Varieties that are known to produce superior
peaches are budded onto roots of already growing trees.
In the United States today, peaches as an orchard fruit are
second in production only to apples. This country grows almost
half of the world's supply of peaches, with 34 states producing
almost three billion pounds of fruit annually. Growing peaches
commercially began in the States early in the 1800's. The man
who can be called the father of the industry discovered and
introduced the variety that once had the lead in production
in this country. He was S. H. Rumph of Marshallville, Georgia.
He produced the Elberta peach from a seed of Chinese Cling planted
in 1879. Since that time, government experiment stations and
private researchers have been systematically breeding peaches
to develop good quality varieties. Red Haven is now the most
widely planted and marketed variety in the United States. However,
with hundreds of varieties to choose from, the consumer is unlikely
to be able to distinguish one variety from the other.
California is the leading commercial producer of peaches,
followed by South Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Notice that Texas is not listed among the leading producers.
There are good reasons for the lack of production—reasons
that you should understand before trying to grow peaches in
your backyard. The main reasons for troublesome peach production
in this area fall into the category of disease rather than the
pesky worm which is usually associated with juicy peach fruit.
The soil-borne fungus called cotton root rot kills trees overnight
and there is no prevention or cure. Fungus fruit rots cause
the ripening peaches to melt on the trees during periods of
rainy weather. Bacterial diseases such as bacterial canker cause
limbs to bleed sap and trees die prematurely. If peach production
were easy, anyone could do it. The queen of fruits must be protected
with weekly sprays of insecticides and fungicides to insure
a healthy tree with worm-free fruit. Otherwise, the survival
interval of a peach depends on the luck of the environment.
If you do decide to plant a peach, plant it in a sunny location
(8 to 10 hours of sun daily) and choose recommended varieties
for your specific area listed at:
In this area of Texas, harvesting begins in May and continues
into August. The peak season is June and July. A Congressional
Resolution passed in 1982 proclaimed July to be National Peach
For more about growing peaches in Texas, see: