The cultivation of peaches began in China as early as 2000 B.C. It continued through the old world and was transported to the America’s where peach cultivation thrived on the east coast. By the mid-1700s, peaches were so plentiful in the United States that botanists thought of them as native fruits. Currently California, South Carolina, Georgia and New Jersey account for three quarters of U.S. peach production. New York grows over 2000 acres of peaches, more than a quarter of that located in the eastern portion of the state.

There are 2 types of peaches, clingstone and freestone. With clingstone peaches, the flesh “clings” to the "stone" (the pit), making it difficult to separate. As Clingstone varieties retain their flavor and texture during processing, they are more suitable to canning and value added products. 

The pit of freestone peaches separates easily from the flesh, making it ideal for fresh consumption. Freestone peaches are generally larger than clingstones with a firmer, less juicy texture. While most commonly eaten fresh, these peaches may also be frozen and dried.

Annual per person consumption of peaches in the United States peaked at 13 pounds in the early 1970s. By 2008 annual consumption had dropped to 8.8 pounds per person. Consumer research conducted in the mid-2000s revealed buyer frustration with mealy textures, fruit browning and lack of sweetness. This frustration has actually helped improve demand for local, NY produced peaches as there is simply nothing like a tree-ripened peach.

Over the last 20 years, Cornell research and extension projects have helped growers increase yields and fruit quality by increasing tree densities and improving labor efficiency. We estimate that profitability of new high density orchards is 100 to 300% greater than the traditional low-density orchards. For more information about tree fruit production, please visit the Cornell Tree Fruit website at


Jarmila Haseler
Agricultural Educator
(585) 753-2565

Last updated September 16, 2016