2016 Peach Crop Failure

Local news had a brief clip on the lack of Peaches this year here in New England.

Peach Crop Failure

Thanks.

I expected that much around here. Where are you in RI? I am in Central MA. No single peaches or nectarine this year.

I know how you feel. Last year I lost my entire crop a week before they were ready due to flooding. We had so much water I eventually lost about a dozen different trees due to flooding. My trees were loaded and they all dropped off due to drowning.

I’m don’t want to criticize the farmer specifically. I can sympathize on the amount of work involved.

But in an effort to share my experiences, those have to be some of the most unhealthy peach trees I’ve seen. Notice there is almost no new growth on the trees, and the sod comes right up to the base of the trees.

I’m not claiming to be an expert, nor someone who is, or will be, a long timer, but I wouldn’t manage my orchard that way. They are using ladders. I can’t imagine owning fruit trees requiring ladders.

That said, I’m sure younger and more progressive orchardists could have equally severe criticisms about my management practices. (i.e. too wide of spacing here, poor weed control, etc.)

It is sad the crop was lost in NE. I’ve lost and nearly lost entire crops before. Ruins more than just a day by far. Makes one wonder why you are doing this.

Lost my peaches this year also! 120 trees going into year 4. The larger growers in my state with wind machines did OK and folks with overhead irrigation for frost control seemed to do OK but peaches in NC will be short and prices will be higher.

I have seen many pictures of orchards in this forum that look great, but I was not impressed with the orchard in the news show - even for a 100 tree hobby orchard. 100 well maintained trees have the ability to produce a large amount of fruit and enough money to make the venture/hobby worth while.

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That was my thought. A very poorly managed orchard.

After I wrote my previous post, I realized I should have more qualified my comments from a commercial perspective.

I see full sized apple trees here, which are majestic in their own right. I wasn’t concerned at all with ascetics in my post.

I’m sure Blueberry’s comments (like mine) intended to mirror the perspective of commercial growers, where chores are hard to keep up with and labor is in short supply.

Fruitnut has this greenhouse growing figured out like no one I’ve ever seen, plus has tons of broad experience, so when he says the orchard looks poor to his eye, that’s something to take to the bank.

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@Olpea, @blueberrythrill, @fruitnut @alan

We of the sorry “Brotherhood of the Barren Peach Trees” need to adjust our pruning methodology in preparation for next year.

Normally we would prune off between 1/3 to 1/2 of last year’s growth/shoots (the shoots with the fruit buds) and allow the remaining 2/3 to bear fruit. New shoots would grow out of the structural scaffolds to produce next year’s fruiting wood.

But, this year with no fruiting wood, should we prune last year’s growth (this years’ failed fruiting shoots) back to theirs base?

There does not seem to be a reason to keep all failed wood on the tree. Leaving those alone would just add a whole new segment of vegetative non-productive wood to the structure of the tree.

Is my extrapolation of my limited knowlwdge on this subject correct?

Mike

I feel awful for you guys in the east and north east that lost your crop this year. So much effort goes into these tree crops and to yield nothing?? Heartbreaking!

Ive said it before and ill say it again…if I had half the issues with bugs/disease/late freezes that most the country has I wouldnt grow fruit for profit. We certainly have our limitations with lack of chilling but ill take that anyday over loosing whole crops to freezes.

Mike,

I’ve had some trees completely barren here at the house where the freeze damage was the worst. Others have a minimal crop and others have full crops.

It’s really made it tough to continually switch gears for thinning and pruning (something we are doing at the same time this year).

For barren trees, I’m taking the opportunity to really cut them back because they are getting so large their becoming unmanageable. I’ve not tried this before, but I am dehorning into some pretty big wood. Back as far as a dare go.

For trees w/ a light crop we just prune everything which doesn’t have fruit on it and keep everything that does. So that’s pretty easy.

For trees w/ a heavy crop we mostly prune the upright shoots because they are the ones which seem to produce the most shade. The upright shoots sort of want to grow a tree inside the tree. We also prune the shoots growing down on the underside.

For the last two cases I really don’t have a choice about the way they are pruned, but regarding the dehorning, I’m not sure how it will work. I’ve read it recommended before that in non-producing years use the opportunity to cut peach trees back, but I’ve never done it this aggressively for non-producing trees.

I don’t know about pruning all of last years wood because that is where all leaf buds are as well! I am cutting back a lot of shoots to the lowest healthiest leaf shoot- this means eliminating almost all upright shoots from the previous year that are blocking the development of this years shoots. More horizontal shoots will be a source for the uprights of next years fruiting wood as well. They are what I will tend to leave on the tree.

Are you talking about free standing trees?

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Mike

I was advised to summer prune my barren peach trees by removing about 40-60 of the new shoots growing toward the center of the tree when the peach doctor walked through the orchard last week. My trees which are 4 years old are producing a huge amount of new shoot growth after fertilizing to support 2 bushels/tree.

Just grab the shoots and yank them out which takes less than a minute a tree. Also yank the root suckers and low growing shoots at the same time.

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@alan

I have still not gotten the hang of espaliering peaches and nects.

Try as I might I have not been able to fully bend them to my will. Nothing like apples or pears or even plums.

The kindest thing I can say about my peach trees is that they are “trending” to espalier but now they are modified open center.

Mike

Here in southern IL, I have had a really good peach set. We have been thinning endlessly. I’m going 8 inches apart this year rather than 6 and am covering the ground with baby peaches. So far, the curculio isn’t too bad either in spite of being able to only get one spray on due to endless rains. I would LOVE to have low-growing peach trees, but I’m in deer country and have to let them attain a greater height in order to get any crop. Then I fight 'coons and 'possums and woodpeckers. Those of you with low scaffolds: how do you prevent the deer from getting everything? electric fences?? repellents?

Its not just deer. Low branches are a magnet for winter rabbits. They’ll eat just about anything that has green in the winter. This time of year they still are nibbling new shoots on the plums, but they leave the bark/thicker branches alone. The only cure is fencing.

Hey, this is about crop failure- you aren’t making those of us without a single peach feel any better. How bout starting another topic? :cry::wink:

I do have to admit that my crop failure is not complete.

I am growing a robust crop of lovely LEAVES

I am growing a crop of precursors - for mulch and compost :sob:

Mike

Sorry. What I meant to say was I lost every dadburned peach too:wink: Don’t worry something always gets them before I do. I took one day off last summer to spend some time w/friends. When I returned the next day, I lost half of the peaches of two trees to 'coons. Given the pile of pits, it must have been one heck of a party!!! To add insult to injury, all the peaches(and everything else) I froze were lost when my freezers mysteriously came unplugged. Insurance came through for me, but you just can’t replace all the work that went into my fish, deer, veggies, and fruit. I absolutely despise being dependent on the grocery store.

Rabbits are all but gone in my area. They used to be plentiful, but I built a pond where they lived, and the number of predators in my region is astounding—including my neighbor’s endless supply of cats.

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I know people have written here about deer eating peaches, but deer here have completely left my peaches alone. I have a friend who told me deer also leave his peaches alone. Maybe we just have better food for them around here. They absolutely attack my apples if I don’t keep them sprayed with deer repellent.

They do prefer apple leaves and their consumption of fruit is somewhat variable, but a hungry deer will destroy a young peach tree here- all common fruit tree species, I’d say. Figs are about their least favorite.