I’ve been talking a lot on the GardenLine lately about planting the right varieties of fruit trees based on chilling hour requirements in Texas. Here is a list of what are considered the best fruit trees for the southern half of Texas, from San Antonio east towards the Red River and all the way down toward the Rio Grande Valley.
If you look at most of the maps generated by the horticultural researchers at Texas A&M University that would include those peaches that fall in the 5, 6, or 7 zone ... knowing that there are 7 total regions in the state. Use the charts, specifically for peaches and plums, when you are out buying fruit trees, make sure the name on the tag falls into zone 5, 6 or 7.
VarietyFruit sizeStoneRipe dateGulfrubysmallred skin and fleshMayGulfgoldsmallyellow skin and fleshMayBrucelargered skin and fleshmid-MayAllredsmallred skin and fleshearly JuneMethleymediumdark skin,amber fleshearly JuneMorrislargepurple skin and fleshmid-June
Peaches are well adapted to most parts of Texas. Because all peaches are self-fruitful, it is not necessary to plant more than one variety. One tree normally supplies more peaches than one family can consume.The later ripening varieties are of better quality.
VarietyFruit sizeStoneRipe dateEarliGrandesmallclingmid-AprilTropicSweetmediumfreelate AprilFlordaPrincesmallclinglate AprilTropicBeautymediumsemi-freelate AprilFlordaGrandemedium to largesemi-clingearly MayFlordaCrestsmallclingearly MayFlordaKingmediumsemi-clingmid-MayJuneprincemediumsemi-freemid-MayJuneGoldlargesemi-clinglate MayTexstarmedium to largesemi-clinglate MayTexRoyallargefreeearly JuneSentinellargesemi-clingearly JuneHarvestermedium to largesemi-freemid-JuneLa Felicianalargefreelate JuneRedglobelargefreelate JuneSummergoldmediumfreelate JuneFireprincelargefreelate JuneDixielandlargefreemid-JulyRedskinlargefreemid-July
Most of the pears grown in Texas are of the fire blight-tolerant Oriental hybrid type. Fruit of all these varieties are harvested firm and then ripened. Old gritty varieties such as Kieffer have been recommended in the past because of high fire blight resistance, but varieties with much better dessert quality and equal fire blight resistance are available.
The best available pear for combined dessert quality and fire blight resistance is Warren, a seedling selection discovered in Mississippi. Ayres and Magness also rank high on this list. The other pears listed are good, but are lesser than the above in quality and/or fire blight resistance.
All of the varieties listed below will work well for canning, baking and other processing. Pears for the most part need chilling hours to bloom, but not near as specifically as the peaches and plums do.
- Warren -
Excellent dessert quality in both the flesh and peel with a smooth, buttery texture and small- to medium size, red-blushed fruit. Ripens in August. Highly resistant to fire blight. A seedling tree discovered in Hattisburg, Mississippi by T. O. Warren.
- Ayres -
Excellent dessert quality, although not as good as Warren. Medium-size fruit with a brown russet and red blush. Ripens in August. Highly resistant to fire blight.
- Magness -
Excellent dessert quality with medium size fruit similar to Warren - Ripens in August. Highly resistant to fire blight.
- Maxine -
Very good dessert quality with medium to large attractive fruit. Good to fair fire blight resistance. Ripens in August-early September. Reported to be the same pear as Starking Delicious.
- Moonglow -
Good dessert quality with medium to large fruit that ripens in August-early September. Good fire blight resistance.
- Garber -
Good dessert quality with medium to large, crisp-textured, attractive fruit of a shape similar to Delicious apples. Ripens in August - Good to fair fire blight resistance. Often called apple-pear or pear-apple.
- LeConte -
Good dessert quality, medium-size, attractive fruit that ripens in August-early September. Fair fire blight resistance. Fan-Still, a variety propagated and sold in the San Antonio area, appears to be a LeConte seedling with similar quality and reported better fire blight resistance.
- Monterrey -
Good dessert quality with large fruit that ripens in August-early September. Good fire blight resistance. Propagated and sold chiefly in the San Antonio area.
- Orient -
Fair dessert quality, coarse textured, russetted, medium to large fruit. A consistent, heavy bearer that ripens late August-September. Highly resistant to fire blight. Used primarily for canning/baking.
- Kieffer -
Old standard, coarse-textured fruit that are poor to fair for dessert use but good for canning and baking. A consistent, heavy bearer that ripens late September-October, highly resistant to fire blight.
Asian pears are relatively new to Texas and are suggested for trial only. Fire blight tolerance ranges from moderate to fair and Asian pears do not have proven adaptation in any part of Texas. They combine apple-like texture with pear flavor. All are very juicy, but some varieties are proving to be a disappointment because of a rather bland flavor. Asian pears begin to mature 2 to 4 weeks earlier (July in central Texas) than the common Oriental hybrid varieties.
Asian pears are not to be confused with Garber, one of the Oriental hybrids listed. Garber and the Asian pears are both sometimes called apple-pears or pear-apples because of their apple-like shape and texture.
- Hosui -
Excellent dessert quality with medium-size, golden brown fruit and a distinct rum-like flavor. Ripens July August. Moderate fire blight resistance.
- Twentieth Century (Nijisseiki)-
Good dessert quality with medium-size, yellow fruit. Ripens July-August. Moderate fire blight resistance.
- Shinseik -
Good dessert quality, but less flavor than Hosui or 20th Century. Yellow with medium to large brown lenticels freckling the peel. Ripens July-August. Moderate fire blight resistance.