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What Are the Different Peach Varieties?

Britt Archer
Britt Archer

There are thousands of different peach varieties, but not all types of peach trees are best suited to every region. Regional suitability depends on how much of a cold period each region undergoes each year. This is because different peach varieties require different amounts of time in the cold, “chilling," before they will produce fruit each year. In warmer climates with shorter cold periods, it may be possible to have fresh peaches from spring to fall.

Some peach varieties need merely a few hundred hours or fewer of this chilling time, while others need five or six times that amount. The less time peach trees need to spend in the cold, the earlier growers will see peaches forming on their trees. This can be a particular concern in areas where temperatures fluctuate. An unseasonable warm spell after a period of cold could cause peach trees to bloom, with a subsequent cold snap ruining the growth. The peach variety known as Belle of Georgia needs 850 hours of chilling, and it is grown in other locations besides the state of Georgia. Many other peach varieties, such as Sweethaven, Mountain Gold and Norman, require the same amount of chilling time. Others need 1,000 hours or more, including Nectar, Raritan Rose, Reliance and Contender.

Peaches can be freestone or clingstone fruit.
Peaches can be freestone or clingstone fruit.

Peach varieties are not only classified by the amount of cold they need to produce their sweet, juicy fruit, but they are also classified by the fruit itself. There are freestone and clingstone peaches, as well as yellow flesh and white flesh peaches. Sweet Scarlet, a yellow flesh peach, will produce a more tangy taste than white flesh varieties such as Spring Snow. Clingstone peaches are exactly what they sound like: the flesh of the fruit adheres more tightly to the pit or stone inside the fruit. The flesh of a freestone peach is much looser around the pit than it is in a clingstone.

Doughnut peaches.
Doughnut peaches.

There are so many peach varieties that no one can correctly identify all of them except an expert grower. What shoppers and cooks may find most helpful is learning how to identify freestone from clingstone peaches. Many peach lovers enjoy freestone varieties because they are delicious when eaten fresh, and they also handle well when freezing. Clingstone varieties are sometimes marketed for eating fresh, but some experts say they are best for canning.

Discussion Comments


I saw a TV chef making a peach sauce for french toast and he didn't peel the peaches first! I can't imagine eating them peel and all! It's one thing if it's a nectarine, but a peach? No, thank you.

We are lucky to have three big peach orchards in our area, and I visit the orchards directly to get my peaches. I'm always terrified a late freeze will kill the crop.

I would love to have a couple of dwarf peach trees in my yard so I could have the fruit fresh off the tree when it's ripe. I do know a few people who have had good luck with growing peach trees, and I wouldn't mind a couple. I know you need two, for pollination. Even if they were self-pollinating, I'd still probably get two. They're beautiful when they bloom in the spring, too. Pear trees are nice, but they *stink* when they bloom! I'd rather have peaches, any day.


Peaches are my absolute favorite fruit. I haunt the farmer's market every summer waiting for them to come in. I rarely, if ever, buy peaches in the supermarket. They were probably picked green and trucked from a thousand miles away. I'd much rather hit the farmer's market and get the ones picked that morning 20 miles away.

I prefer yellow peaches to white peaches. I like the Loring and Hale Haven varieties, myself, but I'll eat anything they have at the market. I'm not terribly picky when it comes to peach varieties.

Nothing says summer to me like a juicy, fresh, sweet peach.

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    • Peaches can be freestone or clingstone fruit.
      By: Anna Kucherova
      Peaches can be freestone or clingstone fruit.
    • Doughnut peaches.
      By: robert lerich
      Doughnut peaches.