Color: Look at the “ground” color, rather than the red color. The ground color is the color under the red, most easily seen at the stem end of the peach. It should be white or light yellow. If it’s green, it’s not ripe and if you pick it, it may never ripen.
Swelling: The peach should be uniformly swollen on the sides of the “suture”, that’s the line from stem end to tip. It should be plump on both sides.
Softness: Though difficult to determine without bruising the fruit, a hard peach may never soften.
Selecting a Peach Variety:
Peaches are grafted fruit trees where scion wood from a desirably fruiting variety is grafted onto a rootstock that is well adapted to our soils. Generally speaking, there are three good rootstocks for North Carolina soils; ’Lovell’ and ‘Halford’ for the Piedmont, and ‘Guardian’ for the Sandhills. You may have to ask the nursery for this information.
Choose cultivars that have a long chilling period, over 750 hours at minimum, though 1,000 hours is most desirable. The chilling period is the length of time required below 45°F for blooming. Varieties with short chilling periods may bloom during an period of unseasonably warm winter days. These blossoms will be killed or injured by the return of freezing weather, eliminating the year’s peach crop.
Growing more than one type is not necessary for pollination as is the case for some fruit trees; however, planting multiple cultivars that ripen at different times will extend the harvest. The earliest varieties may bear in late May, while the latest varieties will be ready for harvest in September.