Flavorich® PeachPrunus persica ‘Rich May’
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Prunus persica ‘Rich May’
Outdoor Growing zone
The Flavorich Peach is one of the very earliest peaches to ripen. In warmer zones you will be picking in the middle of May, and enjoying the first peaches of the season when they are still scarce, and at premium prices. The large clingstone fruits have light yellow flesh and a dark red skin, and the perfect balance of rich sweetness with a gentle tang of acidity. The large pink flowers appear at the beginning of May, and this vigorous tree will soon be delivering you a big harvest of delicious fruit.
Only 700 chilling hours are needed to succeed with the Flavorich Peach, so it grows through the South almost to the Gulf. Plant your tree in full sun, in light, well-drained soil. Prune to develop an open, vase-shaped crown with about 5 major limbs, and thin the fruit while it is still small, to give yourself large fruits of top quality.
After a winter and spring of limited fruit choices (anyone want an apple?), most of us want to get our hands on something fresh, juicy and delicious, that tastes of summer, even if that season is barely getting started. If you want to grow your own fruit, then the wait can be excruciating, and enough to send you rushing to the store for something that is inevitably inferior. That’s why you should plant the Flavorich Peach tree. It’s a wonderful early season peach that will be ready to harvest before May is over – or in early June in cooler zones. It was originally called ‘Rich May’ for that very reason, but somewhere along the way the name was changed. This delicious yellow-fleshed peach has the perfect balance of sweet and acid, lovely yielding flesh, and a deep-red skin that just invites you to take a bite. Completely self-pollinating, so perfect if you only have room for one tree. It makes a lot of sense to make your fruit tree one that crops either very early or very late, because that is when store prices are high, and you get the most out of your home produce. So catch those first hot days, pick a peach in May that is rich in flavor, and enjoy.
The Flavorich Peach is a deciduous tree that within 10 years, with suitable pruning, will be 12 to 15 feet tall and wide. It is a vigorous grower, and will soon be bearing its first crop. The leaves are long and narrow, about 6 inches long and just over 1 inch wide, dark green and slightly glossy. Flower buds open on the bare branches at the very beginning of March, or a little later in cooler zones. The flowers are large and showy – at least 2 inches across, forming a beautiful pink cup of petals. The flowers are self-pollinating, and after the petals fall you will see a tiny green fruit developing. By the middle of May in warm zones, and by early June in colder ones, the first fruits will be ripe and ready to eat. Ripe fruit lasts up to 5 days on the tree, allowing you to spread the harvest a bit, and if you store them in the fridge they will last about 2 weeks – if you still have any left by then!
The fruit is clingstone (almost all early peaches are), with light yellow flesh that is firm when ripe, but juicy and delicious. It is large, about 3 inches in diameter if properly grown, round to slightly elongated and sometimes with a small point. The flesh is often stained with red from healthy antioxidants, adding to its value. The flavor is the perfect balance between sweet and acidic, and ideal for both eating fresh, baking and for preserves. All this glory is wrapped in a slightly fuzzy skin that is yellow, but covered when ripe with a continuous deep red blush. This is a fruit just begging to be bitten into and enjoyed.
Peach trees are beautiful in bloom, and the large pink flowers of this variety are very showy. Plant it on a lawn as a specimen, or in a larger garden you could have a dedicated area for fruit trees. In colder zones it could also be grown as an espalier on a wall – especially useful in areas with cooler summers, such as the northwest.
This tree is hardy from zone 5 to zone 8, and it also grows in zone 9 areas that have cool winters. It needs about 700 chilling hours (when temperatures are below 45oF), which means it can be grown as far south as Texas and Georgia, except for areas along the Gulf of Mexico.
Like all peaches, the Flavorich Peach should be grown in full sun, and planted in lighter soils that are well-drained. If you have heavier clay soil, plant on a mound and add plenty of organic material like compost or rotted manures to the planting soil. Although established trees can take some dryness, fruit will suffer if it is too dry.
Pests or diseases that might attack the Flavorich Peach tree are similar to those attacking all peach trees. Today it is possible to control these problems with organic methods like neem oil, and isolated garden trees are less likely to have problems that trees in orchards.
It is important to reduce the crop of small fruits, to give you good sized, quality peaches. This can feel hard to do, but it is usually necessary. When the young fruits are about the size of a quarter, remove all but one from each cluster. If you have a heavy crop, you might also need to space the remaining fruits out a little – leave several inches between each one. This way every fruit will be large, juicy and delicious.
Begin developing the form of your tree while it is still young. The goal is an open, vase-shaped tree that lets the sun in to ripen the peaches well. Keep a short central trunk and allow about 5 radiating branches, evenly spaced around the tree. Remove or shorten shoots in the center, and shorten long new shoots to encourage spurs. The best time for pruning is right after the harvest, but you can also prune in early spring, before flowering. Don’t prune in winter – it allows diseases to spread.
The peach tree, Prunus persica, is often shown in classic Chinese art, because it once was only found on the hills of northwestern China. In ancient times it traveled along the Silk Road to southern Europe, and eventually from there to America, with the first settlers. Thomas Jefferson planted peach trees in the gardens at Monticello.
Floyd Zaiger was a prominent fruit breeder in Modesto, California. With his sons he ran Zaiger’s Genetics, and produced many new varieties, using meticulous and often complex breeding systems. To create the variety he named ‘Rich May’, he began with the nectarines ‘May Grand’ and ‘Tasty Gold’, and the peaches ‘Sam Houston’ and ‘May Crest’, creating several generations of experimental seedlings. He picked the first fruits from ‘Rich May’ in 1988, and it received a patent in 1991 (PP# 7,432), which expired in 2011. At some point the name Flavorich became attached to this variety, but ‘Rich May’ is still it’s official name.
That first peach of the season is a truly precious thing, and the earlier the better, right? When you grow the Flavorich Peach, you get a truly early peach that is packed with flavor and delicious to both look at and to eat. Order now, as top-quality varieties like this one are always in high demand, and our supply is very limited.