Contender Peach

contender peach prunus persica ftimg

Contender Peach

Prunus persica ‘Contender’

Description & Overview

Contender peach produces large fruits that have a small pit and excellent red skin color. Great for canning and fresh use. This variety has also been found to be very cold hardy and has survived in northern growing areas where other peach varieties fail.

Core Characteristics

Mature Height: 15 feet
Mature Spread: 15 feet
Growth Rate: Fast
Growth Form: Tree
Light Requirements: Full Sun
Site Requirements: Well-drained site
Flower: Pink and very ornamental
Bloom Period: Early May
Foliage: Green
Fall Color: N/A
Fruit Notes: Contender produces fruit that is much larger and firmer than Reliance peaches. Fruit ripens late August/early September in S.E. WI.

Suggested Uses:

Our peach trees are on a standard rootstock as no decent dwarf rootstock exists for peaches. With proper pruning they can easily be maintained at 8′-15′ in height depending on grower’s choice.

Wildlife Value:

Relished by squirrels, raccoons, rabbits (windfalls only)

Maintenance Tips:

Peaches are normally vase (open center) pruned to allow the maximum amount of sunlight into the canopy for best fruit color. Peaches bear fruit on 1 year old wood.

contender peach prunus persica paul harvest and fruit profile

A small portion of our in-house Orchardist's 2020 harvest next to Contender fruit profile.


All peaches can get peach leaf curl. Prevent by spraying the entire tree with liquid copper or with a fungicide that contains chlorothalonil in late winter/early spring before the buds swell and the bud scales crack open. The major insect pest in Wisconsin is plum curculio which is primarily a pest from late May to mid June (spray insecticide if necessary).

Wisconsin is not a major peach growing state due to our cold winters. The best success will be obtained with planting only very cold hardy varieties. Contender peach is being successfully grown in Wisconsin. While it is rated for zone 5, it has been successfully grown in some areas of zone 4 when in a protected site.

Leaf Lore:

Developed and introduced by the University of North Carolina in 1989. Originally released for its late bloom time that made it more resistant to spring frosts as well as for its excellent fruit size and flavor. Contender was also soon found to be very cold hardy and has performed well in in many colder areas of the U.S. where most peach varieties do not survive. This variety was awarded the 2014 American Society for Horticulture Science Outstanding Fruit Cultivar Award.

Companion Plants:

Contender peach is self-fertile.

contender peach prunus persica benchcard