Peaches grow on trees

Peach Tree Care: How To Grow Peaches

If you are growing peach trees, you know that they require lots of sunshine. In fact, they thrive in an area where they can soak up the sunshine throughout the whole day. The care of peach trees is not too difficult. They don’t require much fuss and muss. Keep reading to learn more about peach tree care.

How to Grow Peaches

When thinking about how to plant a peach tree, take a good look at your soil. You should have deep sandy soil that ranges from a loam to a clay loam. Poor drainage in the soil will kill the root system of growing peach trees, so make sure the soil is well drained. Growing peach trees prefer a soil pH of around 6.5.

When it comes to learning how to grow peaches, you need to start out with a healthy one-year-old tree that has an established root system. A small tree that has a good root system is better than a larger tree without

one. When it comes to the care of peach trees, this will definitely help with growing peach trees that are hardy and healthy.

Having a good knowledge of the care of peaches is vital. In order for fruit to grow, you need pollination. Growing peach trees are self-fruitful, which means that pollen from the same flower or variety can pollinate the tree and produce fruit. Because of this, when it comes to how to plant a peach tree, you should know that you only need to plant one. If you are planning on putting peach trees in your backyard, know that one tree will suffice.

How to Plant a Peach Tree

Before you plant your peach tree, you should perform some soil care. Rake and hoe the soil until it is smooth on the surface and free from clumps and rocks. Prepare the soil as deep as you will be planting the tree. Make sure your soil pH is 6.5 and if not, adjust it accordingly.

Peach tree care requires that you soak the roots of the tree for six to twelve hours before you plan on planting it. Dig your hole in the ground large enough for the roots of the tree to spread comfortably within it. This is vital for the care of peach trees. Soak the area completely after planting, and make sure to keep the area around the tree weed free.

After planting, prune the tree back to 26 to 30 inches, cutting off any side branches. This will ensure you have a better crop. If you have more fruit than you imagined show up after blossoming, thin the crop to ensure those left on the tree will produce larger and better tasting fruit.

Now that you know more about peach tree care, you can grow these delicious and lovely fruit in your yard.

The Best Low-Maintenance Fruit Trees

Guest post by Rachael Baihn of LawnStarter.

There is something special about being picking a piece of fruit off a tree in your own garden. Some trees can grow to take up a lot of space while others can be kept quite small to adapt to your garden size. If you live in an urban jungle with little space on your patio or a home in suburbia with plenty of surrounding space in your backyard — there is always a way to create a thriving outdoor space full of fruitful plants, shrubs, and trees.

Depending on the variety you choose, some fruit trees are self-pollinating and some require a pollinator. Self-pollinating fruit trees include apricots, nectarines, peaches, and sour cherries; whereas fruit trees that require pollinators include apples, pears, plums, and sweet cherries. Trees requiring a pollinator may seem like additional work, however, it’s really just a strength in numbers game. Big or small orchard–here are tips on the best low-maintenance fruit trees to plant in your garden or fill your small outdoor space with.

  1. Plums

Requiring less care than other fruit trees, plum trees are an excellent choice for a low-maintenance orchard. They adapt to a wide variety of conditions and are more compact than other fruit trees that require little to no work. Plums are a stone fruit that are both delicious and beautiful. Most plum trees are not self-pollinating, so you will need to plant at least two plum trees to bear fruit. When planting a plum tree, it is important to make sure that the variety you choose will grow well in your climate. European, Japanese, and Damson plum varieties are available depending on your location.

Plum trees should be planted in well drained moderate soil that gets full sun exposure. Plant plum trees at the highest point of your garden to discourage frost from settling around the base as it can damage the tree. Plum trees do well in areas that are a bit sheltered from wind exposure as well. Standard sizes should be planted 20-25 feet apart while dwarfs should be planted 15-20 feet apart. Thinning branches is an important part of having plum trees in order to take off branches that are too small to hold the fruit weight. Water newly planted trees weekly and continue to water well into October to encourage stability during the winter. Prune young plum trees in early spring and established trees in the middle of summer to avoid infection.

Top 10 Fruit Trees

  1. Peach

Homegrown sun-ripened peaches are a staple for many pies, jams, muffins, and cobblers throughout the summer season. Peach trees grow best for gardeners who are in Hardiness zones 5-8 and possibly to zone 9 if winter temperatures don’t drop below -20°F. Peach trees love full sun and they need to be planted in soil that is well drained. Peach trees come in a large standard size or a smaller dwarf size, making this tree great for a variety of gardeners with different spaces. Plant standards 15-20 feet apart and dwarf varieties 10-12 feet apart. Check the tag on your peach tree to see if it is self-pollinating or if you need to purchase two.

  1. Pears

Juicy pears are a staple in summer and fall dishes and pear trees have little to no issues with disease or insects. Pears are not self-pollinating, so you will need at least two in a garden to produce any fruit. Pear trees are slow starters and probably won’t produce any fruit until at least 3 years after planting. However, once they are established, they should have plenty of years to bear good fruit.

Pear trees like well-drained soil in full sun and prefer areas of a garden that have good air circulation. Fire blight is the most common pear disease that is seen mostly in the Eastern United States. Choosing fire blight resistant varieties will help to deter this disease from ruining fruit. Standard size pear trees should be planted 20 feet apart and dwarf varieties should be 15 feet apart. Only a small amount of ammonium nitrate is required for pear trees and check with your local extension office on what is common in your area. Annual pruning is important in creating a central leader system to produce the most fruit.

  1. Cherries

If you want beautiful flowering trees with the bonus of edible fruit, then a cherry tree is a great option for a low-maintenance fruit tree. Both sweet and sour cherry trees are easy to grow and both fruits have a wide variety of uses. Sweet cherries are used for raw eating and you’ll need at least 2-3 trees for pollination. There is a dwarf sweet cherry tree that is self-pollinating that is new to most markets as well. Sour cherries are uses for jams and cooking and those trees are much smaller than sweet cherry trees.

There are both standard and dwarf sizes and it can be about 4 years before a cherry tree will begin producing fruit. Standard trees can become quite large and ladders will be needed in order to harvest all of the 30-50 quarts of fruit that they produce. Dwarf varieties will produce 10-15 quarts in ideal conditions. Cherry trees should be planted in late fall or early spring in an area of full sun with good air circulation. Sweet standard cherries should be planted 35-40 feet apart and dwarfs 5-10 feet apart. Sour standards should be planted 20-25 feet apart and dwarfs 8-19 feet apart. Cherries enjoy moist soil so applying mulch around the base of the tree will help encourage a moist environment. Netting may be required when fruit appears to keep area birds from feasting on the fruit. Fertilize trees in the spring until fruit appears then only do so after each harvest. Prune trees in late winter right before spring arrives.

Incorporating fruit trees into your garden is a great way to produce beauty as well as a bountiful harvest of fresh and juicy fruit. Consider starting with these low-maintenance fruit trees that don’t require aggressive watering and enjoy minimal fertilizer applications. Plum trees are a good option for smaller gardens while cherry trees will quickly fill out a space in providing shade and bounty of fruit. Peaches and pears are other low-maintenance tree varieties that will produce many years of quality fruit. Starting with any of these low-maintenance fruit trees is a great way to produce the best fruit for your garden.

Rachel Baihn is a landscape and gardening writer. She can often be found exploring the ever-so scenic Austin Greenbelt or enjoying the company of neighborhood dogs.

Peach trees are exceptional fruit trees that call for some care to produce a nice peach harvest.

Peach tree facts, a summary

Name – Prunus Persica vulgaris
Family – Rosaceae
Type – fruit tree

Height – 6 ½ to 16 feet (2 to 5 meters)
Climate – temperate and warm
Exposure – full sun

Soil – ordinary, well drained
Foliage – deciduous
Harvest – summer

Planting, pruning and caring for it is important to avoid diseases.

  • Health: peach health benefits and therapeutic properties
  • Refreshing read: Peach and nectarine, for a cooler summer

Planting a peach tree

Our recommendation is to plant your peach tree in a sunlit and wind-sheltered spot so that dominant winds don’t sweep through.

Once the spot is chosen, plant your peach tree in fall or in spring.

  • Prepare a blend of soil mix and garden soil, which will make the soil lighter and add nutrients that the tree needs to grow well.
  • If your soil is clay and loamy, add about ⅓ sand to your blend of earth and soil mix.
  • Spread mulch to protect it from frost spells in winter, and it also adds organic matter and avoids weed growth.

Planting, pruning, and caring for a peach tree

Peach trees tend to not have apical dominance, which means that after pruning, they will sprout new shoots from the base rather than from the top.

Every year, it is important to prune your tree at the end of winter just above a well-formed wood bud.

  • Check that the pruning is well balanced and that there is dominant central stem, but rather a number of evenly-sized branches.

It is important to perform a fruit-inducing pruning to trigger appearance of many beautiful peaches.

A peach tree is very vulnerable to peach leaf curl, and, clearly, proper pruning will give your peach tree vigor and a make it more resilient.

Diseases and parasites that frequently attack peach trees

Start treating your peach tree at the end of winter or at the very beginning of spring, spraying Bordeaux mixture.

After that, spray every two weeks to keep peach leaf curl and other fungus from appearing.

  • Peach leaf curl – leaves curl and swell
  • Aphids – techniques and organic treatments to avoid them.
  • Scale insects – how to fight them
  • European brown rot – peaches rot on the peach tree

The best peach varieties

From the many peach tree varieties, we’ve selected the following interesting cultivars. Although taste is always subjective, there are still among the most delicious varieties to grow in our temperate climates.

  • ‘Springtime’ – harvest end of June, white, fruits require thinning, prune short.
  • ‘Royal Gold’ – harvest from June 30th to July 15th, yellow, fruits require thinning.
  • ‘Robin’ – harvest from July 1st to July 15th, white and soft flesh.
  • ‘Redhaven’ – July 15th to 20th, yellow, light productivity.
  • ‘Anita’ – July 10th to 20th, white flesh, vigorous, large fruits.
  • ‘Dixired’ – July 20th to August 5th, yellow flesh.
  • ‘Charles Roux’ – July 15th to August 15th, white, vigorous, very productive.
  • ‘Redwing’ – August 1st to 15th, white, tasty, vigorous.
  • ‘Orchard Queen’ – August 25th to September 10th, white, for colder areas.
  • ‘Michelini’ – August 25th to September 10th, white, late blooming, prune long.
  • ‘Sanguine’ – September 1st to 15th, regular and late production.

The best smooth peach varieties, called nectarines

  • ‘Fantasia’ – harvest end of August, a tasty nectarine.
  • ‘Flavor Gold’ – harvest mid-July, prime quality fruits.
  • ‘Fuzadole’ – harvest August 15th, white nectarine, grows anywhere.
  • ‘Large Violet’ – end of August, vigorous and its fertile stone can be sown.
  • ‘Independance’ – harvest around August 10th, large yellow fruit.
  • ‘Morton’ – harvest end of July, beginning of August, fertile stone, prune short.
  • ‘Nectared 4’ – harvest August 1st to 15th, early, juicy, sweet.
  • ‘Nectared 6’ – harvest end of August, one of the best nectarines.
  • ‘Nectarose’ – harvest around August 20th, very sweet, resists European brown rot.
  • ‘Olympia’ – harvest August 15th, nectarine with white flesh, very fragrant.
  • ‘Silver Lode’ – harvest August 10th, white and very sweet nectarine.

Learn more about peach trees

Who has never dreamed of standing up after a nice family feast to go fetch a few peaches from the tree in the garden?

This dream is within reach, if you simply care for your tree and considered location, pruning and fertilizing.

You can also treat your peach tree before the first leaves appear, with organic acaricide (mite killer) or a spray containing Bordeaux mixture.

  • Refreshing read: Peach and nectarine, for a cooler summer

Smart tip about peach trees

Learn to use organic products, because nowadays they have become very effective and won’t contaminate the fruits you’re eating…

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Reddening peach by Alicja Juskowiak under license
Flowering peach tree by Anita Fontana under license
Green peach by Emilian Robert Vicol under license

Pruning Peach Trees

Pruning is a very important part of proper peach tree care and maintenance; however, many people think the task overwhelming or too complicated. It doesn’t have to be! Keep these things in mind:

  • Have confidence in knowing that not everyone will prune the exact same way — including the experts.
  • There are three main reasons you should prune your peach tree: its survival, stimulation, and shaping. In the best interest of your tree, it is preferable to do some pruning versus no pruning.
  • If a peach tree is left unpruned, it may not become fruitful, it will not grow as well, and — in some cases — it may not be encouraged to grow at all.

NOTE: This is part 8 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow peach trees, we recommend starting from the beginning.

Survival

When your peach tree is dug up from our fields to be shipped to you (and any time a tree is transplanted) the root ball loses many of its fine feeder roots. These hairlike, delicate roots are important to the process of absorbing moisture and nutrients in the soil. Pruning, in this instance, helps balance the top growth of your tree with the root system, giving the roots time to re-establish in your yard to support existing top growth and new growth.

When your bare-root peach tree arrives from Stark Bro’s, our professionals have already pre-pruned your tree for you. Because of this, you do not need to prune them again at planting time. The only pruning necessary at planting time would be to remove any broken or damaged branches and roots.

Plan to prune your peach trees every year during their dormant season. In Zone 6 and north, you should wait until late winter. A good reference book (we recommend Pruning Made Easy), is invaluable for providing additional visuals and in-depth answers to questions you may have about pruning.

Stimulation

In addition to the survival benefits, pruning a peach tree stimulates stronger, more vigorous growth from the remaining buds. After a single growing season, a peach tree you prune will be bigger, and have stronger branching than a similar unpruned tree.

Shape and Structure

Equally as important to the benefits above, your peach tree needs to be pruned to provide a strongly structured shape. The natural shape a peach tree takes on is not always the best for its maximum fruit production. Stark Bro’s peach trees are pruned in the nursery row for proper shaping to get you started, but corrective pruning must continue at home. Annual pruning is more critical for peaches (and nectarines) than for any other fruit tree type.

Always prune peach trees to an “Open Center” shape. An open-center structure keeps the tree’s canopy open to light, which is necessary for the development of good fruit and helps prevent brown rot, a notorious enemy of peach trees.

Pruning Tips

  • First dormant season (a year after you plant the tree): Remove the central leader and direct the tree growth toward three or four strong scaffolds. Choose branches that are evenly distributed around the trunk. Maintain about 6 inches of height between the scaffold branches, keeping the lowest branch at least 18 inches from the ground. Leave some small branches on the lower trunk to encourage trunk strength. Prune back scaffold branches to one-third of their length.
  • Second dormant season: Prune away fast-growing new shoots but leave twig growth, which will be the fruit-bearing wood (on most peach trees). Choose and encourage additional scaffolds, if needed.
  • Third dormant season: Prune off any broken limbs or crossing branches, but don’t do any more major pruning until the tree has produced a good-sized crop.
  • Mature-tree pruning: Once the basic shape of your peach tree has been established, make your pruning decisions in line with which branches are bearing fruit. Most trees produce fruit on the previous year’s long stems and on short branches (spurs), each of which will bear fruit for several years. Each year, cut out a portion of the older fruiting wood to keep rejuvenating the tree. Prune back each of last year’s stems to half its length.

Pruning angles

Narrow, V-shape crotch angles in the limbs are an open invitation to disastrous splitting later on, particularly when your peach tree is supporting a large fruit crop. For your tree’s branches, choose wide 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock angles.

Pruning to a bud

Make sharp, clean cuts close enough (about ¼-inch away from the next outward-pointing bud) so you won’t leave a clumsy stub that’s hard to heal over. Stay far enough above the bud so it won’t die back. Slant the cuts and the new growth will develop beautifully.

Every branch has buds pointed in various directions. Because you want vigorous new growth to spread out and away from the center of the tree, make your cut above a bud that’s aimed outward. These are usually located on the underside of the branch. This helps your peach tree take on a more spreading shape, keeping it open to light and air circulation.

Pruning Whips (Unbranched Trees)

Unbranched peach trees are ideal if you want more control over which branches are allowed to develop — as you might in certain artful pruning styles like espalier. Prune whips back to 28- to 36-inches above the ground at planting time. After the new branches have grown 3- to 5-inches in length, select a shoot to become the leader and the rest become the tree’s scaffold limbs.

Off-season Pruning

Sometimes pruning needs to be done even when the season isn’t ideal. If a branch is broken by the wind or by a heavy load of fruit, emergency treatment is necessary. When taking action due to injury, prune to clean up any ragged edges; making a flush cut that leaves no stub.

It does not benefit the peach tree to wait until dormancy to prune damaged, dead, or diseased limbs or to remove unwanted growth like suckers and watersprouts. These should all be completely removed as soon as you see them.

Fruit-Thinning

There are several good reasons to thin fruit:

  • To reduce limb breakage
  • Increase the size of the remaining fruit
  • Improve fruit color and quality
  • Stimulate floral initiation for next year’s crop

Home gardeners can effectively thin peach trees by hand. During May and June (in most areas, many peach trees will start to drop or abort underripe fruit. This is a natural process that allows the tree to mature the remaining crop load. If not corrected through thinning, peach trees may bear biennially (fruits only every other year) or bear heavily one year, then bear a comparatively light crop the next year. Thinning may seem counterproductive in theory, but it really is a benefit to your peach harvest in the long run.

The best time to thin peach trees is within 20 to 40 days of full bloom. Thin so that each remaining peach is spaced 6 to 8 inches apart on the branch. In clusters, leave the king bloom (the center bloom in the cluster of five flowers) as it will develop into the largest fruit. On spur-type peach varieties, many fruit spurs grow along a branch and will need to be thinned out to encourage bigger and better fruit on what remains. All of these tasks promote the improved bearing and fruit quality of your peach tree — you’ll be pleased with the results!

How to grow peaches and nectarines

Delicious as they are, the flavour of imported peaches and nectarines can’t compare with the ripe fruits you pick straight from the tree in your own garden. They need lots of sun, though, ideally in a pot on a sheltered patio or trained against a sunny wall.

Advertisement Peaches and nectarines flower and fruit on one-year-old shoots, so remove as much of the old growth as possible.

Growing peaches and nectarines

Soaking bare-roots before planting

Planting peach and nectarines

Bare-rooted trees should be planted on a mild day any time from November to March. Container-grown trees can go in at any time.

Although they’re hardy in the UK (apart from the far north), the blossom and young fruits are vulnerable to frost. Grow your trees against a south- or west-facing wall, or in a pot, which you can move under cover for winter.

Peaches and nectarines will tolerate most soils, but before planting dig in plenty of well-rotted garden compost or manure. If you have clay soil, improve drainage by filling the bottom of the planting hole with rubble. Plant your tree so the top of the rootball sits level with the soil’s surface and the stem is at least 20cm away from the wall. Prepare a framework of wires ready to tie in the stems as they grow.

To plant a tree in a pot, fill the bottom with pea gravel (to improve drainage and stability), then fill with a soil-based compost. Leave a gap between the compost and top of the pot for easy watering. Never let compost dry out.

Pollinating peach tree blossom with a soft brush

How to care for your peach and nectarine crop

Water regularly, especially when fruits are forming. At blossom time, sprinkle a general fertiliser, such as pelleted poultry manure, around the tree. Follow with a mulch of garden compost or well-rotted manure.

Even though peaches are self-fertile you can encourage fruiting by hand-pollinating flowers using a soft brush and misting with water. When fruits are cherry-sized, thin out to one per cluster.

When the fruits are swelling, apply a high-potash liquid fertiliser, such as tomato feed, once a week.

After harvesting comes pruning. Peaches and nectarines flower and fruit on one-year-old shoots, so remove as much of the old growth as possible. Cut back a fruit stem to where a new shoot has grown, then tie in the new growth as a replacement.

How to harvest peaches and nectarines

Peach and nectarine fruits are ripe when they have coloured up and feel slightly soft. They should come off the branch with a gentle twist.

Ripe peaches

How to store peaches and nectarines

Peaches and nectarines bruise easily and don’t store well. You can freeze peaches and nectarines, but when defrosted they should be used for cooking.

Preparation and uses

Delicious eaten raw, added to fruit salads or poached in wine with a little sugar.

A discoloured, shrivelled and misshapen peach tree leaf, due to peach leaf curl

Peaches and nectarines: problem solving

Control aphids and red spider mite with an insecticidal soap. Peach leaf curl is a fungus that affects the emerging leaves in spring. It causes red blistering and distortion. Covering trees with polythene in late winter and early spring will stop rain splashes spreading infection.

Peaches versus nectarines

Both of these fruit have identical growing needs, but fuzzy-skinned peaches are slightly hardier than their smoother-skinned relations. Nectarines grow best when they’re trained against a warm wall or fence, in a sunny, sheltered position.

Peaches ripening on a branch

Great peach and nectarine varieties to grow

Peaches

  • ‘Avalon Pride’ – pink flowers and juicy fruits from early August. It is said to be resistant to leaf curl disease
  • ‘Duke of York’ – the red-skinned, yellow-fleshed fruits ripen from early summer
  • ‘Peregrine’ – heavy crops of delicious fruits with red skin and white flesh, in mid-August. Mildew resistant

Nectarines

  • ‘Lord Napier’ – large crimson-flushed fruits with sweet and juicy white flesh, ripening in early August
  • ‘Pineapple’ – large orange-flushed fruits with yellow flesh, pick early September

Small is beautiful

Advertisement

  • Dwarf ‘Terrace’ fruits – such as peach ‘Terrace Amber’ and ‘Terrace Ruby’ are ideal for growing in pots. They’re compact and slow growing, so are ideal for those with limited space

Peach & Plum Planting Guide

Planning

When picking a location for your tree, try to find a well-drained area with sandy loam soil. This soil type is the best for your plants, but as long as there is good drainage your tree should thrive. Place your tree in full sun for the best growth and production rate. Avoid frost pockets- trees may be damaged by unseasonable frosts.

Planting

Peaches and plums prefer slightly acid soil (pH 6.0-6.8). Dig a hole about three times the size of your pot and the same depth as the root ball. Set the soil you have dug out aside and mix it 50/50 with aged mushroom compost, aged manure, or rotten pine bark. Remove the plant from its pot and gently loosen the root ball. Cut any roots that swirl around the edges of the root ball. Place the plant in the planting hole and replace the soil with the mix 50/50 and gently pack down the dirt. To avoid planting too deep make sure the plant is at a position with the top most roots at the soil line. Next we need to thoroughly water the tree to settle the roots and eliminate air pockets. DO NOT PUT FERTILIZER IN THE PLANTING HOLE! Only apply fertilizer at the correct time of year.

If desired, construct a water basin at the base of the tree about 36 inches in diameter. Mulch in the spring & summer time should be about 4-6 inches deep. Keep mulch a few inches away from the trunk of the tree. Good mulch in the spring, is a mix of compost and weed-free hay. In the summer use weed-free hay or grass clippings alone.

Spacing for peach and plum trees should generally be 20 feet apart. Put plums no more than approximately 20 feet apart for cross-pollination.

Fertilization

Chemical or organic, whatever you may choose, make sure that it contains iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, copper and boron. These elements are crucial to the plants growth. Application rates may vary. See chart below:

10-10-10 or 10-0-10 with minerals

1 cup per each year of tree’s life

**Max out at 9 cups for mature tree

Espoma Citrus Tone (Organic)

6 cups for 1 year old

10 cups for 2 year old (4-6ft)

18 cups for 7-9ft tree

24 cups for tree over 9ft

The fertilizer should be spread under the entire canopy, avoiding the 5 inches closest to the trunk. Zones 8a, 9, and 10– fertilize 3 times each year in late February, late May, and late July. NEVER FERTILIZE AFTER AUGUST! This can promote growth too late in the year and damage the tree if it freezes.

Water

The first year is a critical time for your new tree. It has not had time to establish itself yet and therefore it is not as strong as an older tree. To prevent the tree from dying, it must be watered twice a week in light soil and once a week in clay soil. Be sure to soak the entire root system deeply; this will take about 40-50 minutes. For best growth and production, your tree should receive at least one inch of water a week. During dry spells, water is mandatory. If not properly watered during droughts, fruit may drop prematurely. Keep at least 4 feet around the tree clear of grass and weeds to reduce the competition for water.

Pruning & Thinning

Peaches and plums in the South are usually pruned to an open center habit. When planting, you need to select 3 or 4 scaffold branches spaced equally around the trunk and remove other branches flush with the trunk.

During the second dormant season, top off the scaffold limbs about 36 inches from the trunk to let secondary branching begin. Any strong branches growing towards the center should be removed. This will let the tree have good air circulation in the center of the tree.

Training of your plant should continue for the first 5 years. Pruning is designed to train the tree to grow outward. This is done by removing the strong branches and water sprouts growing in the center. With the help of mold and hold cuts, your tree can be topped out at 7-8 foot. To do this top back the main scaffold limb to a weaker outward growing shoot. This will keep your tree at an easy picking height as well as stimulate new growth lower on the tree.

For a mature tree, pruning should take place during its dormant season. Thin out weak branches and head back long shoots as needed to maintain tree shape. Remove water sprouts. Remove any dead, damaged or diseased branches when pruning. Use mold and hold cuts to maintain easy picking heights.

To grow and keep growing the biggest fruit, thin back the small fruit to no more than 1 fruit per 6 inches of branch. This may not sound like a good idea, but in the end you will have the biggest fruit your tree can produce.

Orchard Care

Peaches, plums and nectarines need little help to be productive. Check with your extension agent for specific recommendations for your area. White peach scale can be controlled by dormant oil sprays at leaf fall and bud break. This is highly recommended as an annual maintenance spray. Brown rot can be prevented by using a wettable sulphur spray every two weeks while fruit is ripening. Pack wood ashes around the base of your tree to fend off peach tree borders.

Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
Client’s Request: Thank you for calling the UC Master Gardener Program Help Desk this morning with a question about your young peach tree.
You have a young tree, planted bare root into a pot in January 2018, and then transplanted directly into the garden in the late spring / early summer when you were able to do so. You planted several fruit trees at the same time, and all were planted initially into pots and then into the garden, in roughly similar locations, with good drainage in the garden. All of the trees have been similarly irrigated. All of the trees are doing well with the exception of the peach. The peach had curling leaves last year (every single leaf appeared wilted) and you would like to prevent this, this year. You are wondering whether this is “peach leaf curl” or something else, and whether or not to presume it was peach leaf curl and to spray now.

Peach Leaf Curl Infected Tree MGCC Help Desk Response: As you already know, peach leaf curl is a disease caused by a fungus, and is very common for backyard growers of peach trees. The symptoms affect the blossoms, fruit, leaves and shoots, and are very visible on the leaves. The fungus causes distorted, reddened, leaves. You can see photos of damaged leaves at this link:

If, after looking at these images, you decide that your leaves looked like this, then I would proceed as recommended in the UC Pest Note linked above.
If you do not think that your leaves looked like this, then we need to consider other possibilities. Wilted leaves can be evidence of a water transport problem in the plant. In this case, something in the vascular system isn’t working as it should.
Beginning with the transplant from pot to garden last year, is it possible that the root ball was damaged? Or that there were air pockets in the garden created during transplant, causing some of the roots to dry out? Or that moles, squirrels or other garden visitors have created air pockets near the roots? If you think this is possible then I would dig down and fill those pockets with a wet-soil-sludge mixture to fill them in.
Is it possible that you have overwatered or that the drainage isn’t quite as good as you had thought? Good drainage is one of the most important factors in siting fruit trees. Excess water in the root zone will produce a similar-looking result in the plant to a lack of water, since the roots will rot and cannot perform their intended function. In this case be cautious this spring with watering. Once the rains stop and you begin watering again, use a moisture meter or dig down 4 to 6 inches, and learn about your soil. Or perhaps you didn’t water enough? Young trees are particularly susceptible to roots drying out. This link discusses irrigation of fruit trees:

Young trees have undeveloped root systems that are not very extensive. Because of this, your young trees need consistent moisture levels in their root zone in order to thrive. The “goldilocks” amount: not too much, not too little.
Some peaches are susceptible to root-feeding nematodes. Nematodes are tiny, eel-like roundworms. The species that attack plants are usually too small to be seen without a microscope, a soil test will be required. Here is a link to our local ist of soil testing labs for home gardeners.(http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/files/51308.pdf) Different labs perform different tests at different costs. I suggest that you call all or some of the labs to find out if they test for root feeding nematodes, whether or not the tests can provide definitive results, and the costs.
Inadequate nutrition from the soil can also result in discolored and crinkly leaves, look at the pictures at this link:

The soil test can also provide information about the nutrition available in your garden soil, if you request this.
You mentioned that you purchased the tree from a local nursery. Although a few local nurseries (usually bigger stand-alone ones) also are a grower for some species, they do not grow their own fruit trees, they rather purchase them (this year, last year, and many years prior) from a grower specializing in fruit trees, often in the Central Valley or lately for citrus in the Monterey Bay area. You might take a look at one of the various grower nursery websites and look up the particular variety of peach that you purchased to find out what you can learn. Most of the nursery grown fruit trees are grafted on root stocks. Some rootstocks are resistant to root-feeding nematodes. It might be helpful to know whether you have a more susceptible tree by identifying the rootstock which can often be found in the grower’s catalogue or web site..
Overall, this link will give you valuable information on planting, care, and irrigation of young trees.
Good luck with sorting this out and please contact us if we can help further.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (MCW)

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