Although Missouri hosts many fruit and nut crops, peaches do not produce reliably in the “Show-Me” state. Unpredictable spring frosts, winter freezes, ice storms and shallow soils take their toll on peach trees. Rains and humidity encourage bacterial leaf spot and fungal diseases, further limiting peach production. In fact, in Central and Northern Missouri, commercial peach growers harvest a full crop only 4 years out of every 10.
Redhaven peaches are one of the most popular freestone peaches in Missouri, according to the University of Missouri Extension. This yellow-fleshed variety ripens in early to mid-July throughout Central Missouri, and the peaches continue ripening through a number of weeks, giving growers time to continually harvest the fruit. Redhaven peaches have an excellent flavor and texture with nearly fuzz-free skin, but produce a bright, colorful red blush early and may appear ripe when they are not. The tree has an average resistance to bacterial leaf spot. Because of their popularity and reliability, growers use Redhaven peaches a midpoint when comparing peaches.
Reliance peach trees are extremely hardy. Their flower buds are also frost-tolerant, a bonus in Northern Missouri's variable weather, and the tree is highly resistant to bacterial leaf spot. They produce yellow-fleshed freestone peaches with good flavor, although the fruit may be soft and relatively small. The fruit ripens in late July to early August and keeps its color after canning or preserving.
Developed from Redhaven peach trees, Cresthaven peaches ripen in late August, much later than Redhaven peaches. The tree also blooms later in springtime than most other peaches, avoiding the danger of late frosts. The tree is moderately frost tolerant, making this a choice variety for Central Missouri. The freestone peaches are firm and have an excellent flavor. The yellow flesh does not brown quickly when cut, making Cresthaven a desirable choice for canning or processing.
Encore is a late-ripening variety, allowing growers to enjoy fresh peaches late in the season. This freestone peach ripens from late August into September, and the peaches are firm and large with a rosy blush. Encore flower buds are frost resistant. The tree itself is moderately resistant to disease and bears heavily; thinning the young fruit produces bigger, more flavorful peaches.